Your Prep Sports
Norwalk (17-5) vs. Clear Creek Amana (16-5)
Clear Creek Amana raised eyebrows around the state with an impressive postseason run punctuated with a 12-3 win over top-ranked Davenport Assumption in the substate title game that secured the first state tournament trip in program history.
The Clippers enter the state tournament winners of seven of their last eight and playing as well as any team in 3A.
Clear Creek Amana has scored double digit runs five times in its last eight games and averaged 10 runs per game in its three postseason victories.
Five regulars in the CCA lineup are hitting better than .330 led by senior Grant Jensen who is hitting a team-high .473 with nine extra-base hits and 20 RBI.
Parker Smith (.435), TJ Bollers (.386), Ben Swails (.368) and Brock Reade (.338) are all hitting over the .330 mark while sophomore Stirlen Roberson is a .326 hitter.
Reade is the likely quarterfinal starter for Clear Creek Amana and owns a perfect 4-0 record and a 2.10 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 30 innings.
The junior left-hander picked up wins over Solon and Fairfield in the first two postseason games for Clear Creek Amana.
In order to earn the first state tournament win in program history in its first ever trip to state the Clippers will need to stop a Norwalk team that returns to the state tournament for the first time since winning the 3A title in 2009 riding a 10-game winning streak.
Norwalk hasn’t loss since a 5-3 setback to fourth-ranked Dallas Center-Grimes in the first game of a doubleheader on July 1 and secured its trip to the state tournament since 2009 with a 4-1 win over Centerville in the substate final.
The Warriors have been one of the toughest teams to score on in 3A this season boasting a team ERA of 2.38 and holding opponents to one or no runs nine times.
Norwalk has one of the top 1-2 pitching combos in 3A with senior Tucker Christensen and junior Evan Borst.
The likely quarterfinal starter, Christensen is 7-1 with a 1.21 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 40 1/3 innings while Borst is 5-2 with a 2.29 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 36 2/3 innings.
No. 2 Sergeant Bluff-Luton (20-3) vs. Marion (10-10)
Sergeant Bluff-Luton will seek to end successful sports season that included a semifinal appearance in football and trip to the state title game in basketball with a title in baseball.
The top-seeded Warriors have an impressive season resume that features four wins over ranked opponents with two of their three losses coming to Class 4A competition.
Sergeant Bluff-Luton brings a four-game winning streak into its first tournament appearance since 2015 after knocking off No. 10 MOC-Floyd Valley 6-1 in the substate title game.
Senior Daniel Wright, a 6-foot-8 right-hander headed to Wisconsin to play quarterback, is the likely quarterfinal starter after posting a 6-1 record and .75 ERA with 46 strikeouts in 37 1/3 innings.
Wright allowed 10 hits and one run while striking out 12 over 14 innings in back-to-back postseason complete game wins.
Juniors Gage Franck (.471) and Owen Puk (.375) lead the Marion offense combining for 15 extra-base hits and 39 RBI.
Marion used a late-season resurgence to return to the state tournament for the second year in a row and third time in the past four seasons.
The Indians lost four straight to open the season and were 1-7 after being swept by Solon in a doubleheader on July 29.
Marion has gone 9-3 since including three consecutive postseason wins, securing its return to state with a 5-4 upset of a third-ranked Central DeWitt team that outscored the Indians 14-4 in a season-opening doubleheader.
No. 4 Dallas Center-Grimes (17-3) vs. Benton Community (13-11)
A couple of programs with long state tournament histories meet in their return to Principal Park.
Second-seeded Dallas Center-Grimes locked up its eighth trip to state but first since 2015 with a 12-2 win over Harlan in the substate title game.
The substate final win avenged a 5-4 regular season loss to Harlan and capped an impressive postseason run that saw the Mustangs outscore opponents by a combined margin of 34-4.
Dallas Center-Grimes boasts one of the top pitchers in Class 3A in senior Logan Smith who owns an 8-0 record and .30 ERA this season and has struck out 72 while allowing just 19 hits in 47 innings.
Benton Community is making its 10th trip to state but first since 2012 following a postseason run that included a 3-2 semifinal upset of defending state champion Cedar Rapids Xavier and a 6-5 nine-inning win over South Tama in the substate final.
Another state qualifier that hit its stride late, Benton Community was 5-9 on July 2 but has won eight of its last 10 entering the state tournament.
The Bobcats are led offensively by Drew Lange (.370), Cade Timmerman (.361) and Ian Rupp (.356) with senior Brady Sadler the expected quarterfinal starter.
Sadler is 3-2 with a 2.62 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings.
No. 6 Gilbert (21-3) vs. ADM (12-7)
One of the most intriguing matchups in the Class 3A quarterfinals figures to be a pitchers duel between two of the better hurlers in the 3A field.
Sixth seed ADM returns to Principal Park for the second consecutive season after falling to eventual champion Cedar Rapids Xavier 7-2 in the opening round last season.
The Tigers lost four straight to end the regular season but rebounded in a big way in postseason play, outscoring opponents 25-3 in three postseason wins.
ADM is expected to start senior Zach Fuller who went 4-1 with a 1.45 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 38 2/3 innings this season.
Third-seeded Gilbert is back at state for the first time since 2011 after rolling through the postseason outscoring opponents 29-0.
The Tigers locked up their third ever trip to state with a 10-0 win over Boone in the substate final behind a two-hit shutout y Easton Johnson.
The junior will likely get the call in Tuesday’s quarterfinal after a stellar season in which he went 5-0 with a .91 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 38 2/3 innings.
Sergeant Bluff-Luton – Deric Fitzgerald, Sr., SS. Fitzgerald leads the Warriors with a .459 batting average, 26 RBI and 13 stolen bases and ranks third in 3A with 35 runs scored.
Marion – Owen Puk, Jr., SS/P: A .375 hitter, Puk leads the Indians with nine extra-base hits and 25 RBI and is also 1-0 with a 2.10 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 16 2/3 innings.
Norwalk – Evan Borst, Jr., SS: Borst ranks fifth in Class 3A with a .520 batting average to go with a home run and 18 RBI and is 5-2 with a 2.29 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 36 2/3 innings.
Clear Creek Amana – Grant Jensen, Sr., C/OF: A first-team all-WAMAC West Division selection, Jensen is hitting a team-high .473 with 27 runs scored and 20 RBI.
Dallas Center-Grimes – Logan Smith, Sr., P/INF: South Dakota State recruit has been among the best pitchers in the state this season going 8-0 with a .30 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 47 innings and is also hitting .305 with 14 RBI.
Benton Community – Cade Timmerman, Jr., SS/P: Timmerman is hitting .361 with a team-high 10 extra-base hits and leads the Bobcats with 25 RBI while also going 4-2 with a 3.34 ERA in 29 1/3 innings.
Gilbert – Nick Chasey, Jr., SS/P: The lead of the Gilbert offense Chasey leads the Tigers in batting average (.453), runs (31), doubles (15), triples (3), RBI (25) and walks (19).
ADM – Zach Fuller, Sr., 3B/P: Fuller is hitting .413 with a home run and 12 RBI but has been even better on the mound where he is 4-1 with a 1.45 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 38 2/3 innings.
Class 3A is far and away the most wide open of any of the four brackets at the state tournament this week.
The only class in which the top-ranked team in the final rankings failed to qualify the 3A field features just three ranked teams and only two teams that reached the state tournament a year ago, both the fewest among the four brackets.
Seeding gives the favorite role to Sergeant Bluff-Luton and the Warriors are certainly worthy with a 20-3 record against a challenging schedule.
Dallas Center-Grimes has the talent and pitching to make a run, Clear Creek Amana proved it could compete with anyone with its 12-3 substate win over top-ranked Assumption and Gilbert is dangerous.
However, it’s Sergeant Bluff-Luton that earned the top seed and early favorite status.
Good luck to anyone attempting to pick this bracket all the way through.
Sergeant Bluff-Luton and Clear Creek Amana met in the semifinals of the Class 3A basketball tournament and the Clippers would love a shot at redemption after falling just short in that one.
On the bottom of the bracket a Dallas Center-Grimes and Gilbert semifinal would be a great one and both have the front of the rotation pitching to make it happen.
Who comes out of Class 3A?
Obviously that’s the question before any state tournament but its even more of a question with this bracket that appears to be as open as any in recent memory.
Three of the favorites for most of the season, perennial contender Davenport Assumption, defending champion Cedar Rapids Xavier and last year’s runner-up Central DeWitt, all failed to reach the state tournament despite being ranked in the top five.
Five of this year’s qualifiers enter unranked and only two, 10-10 Marion and 12-7 ADM have played in a state tournament game in the last five years.
With three games in five days it always takes a break or a good bounce or two to win a title but this season could be even more interesting than most.
Five Fast Facts
* – Norwalk pitchers Tucker Christensen and Evan Borst have combined to allow one run in 20 postseason innings.
* – Gilbert didn’t allow a run in three postseason games and has held opponents to one or zero runs 12 times in 24 games this season.
* – Clear Creek Amana sophomore Parker Smith has been hit by pitch 18 times this season, most in Class 3A, and ranks third in 3A with a .611 on-base percentage.
* – Norwalk senior Nate Lane leads the state with 19 sacrifice bunts. No other player in the state has more than nine successful sacrifices.
* – Dallas Center Grimes senior Logan Smith ranks second in the state in tops in Class 3A with 47 innings pitched this season, is tied for the state lead in wins with eight and is third in strikeouts with 72.
Quarterfinals, Tuesday July 28
Sergeant Bluff-Luton (20-3) vs. Marion (10-10), 1:30 p.m.
Norwalk (17-5) vs. Clear Creek Amana (16-5), 10:30 a.m.
Dallas Center-Grimes (17-3) vs. Benton Community (13-11), 4:30 p.m.
Gilbert (21-3) vs. ADM (12-7), 7:30 p.m.,
Semifinals, Friday July 31
Sergeant Bluff-Luton/Marion winner vs. Norwalk/Clear Creek Amana winner, 10:30/1:30 p.m.
Dallas Center-Grimes/Benton Community winner vs. Gilbert/ADM winner, 10:30/1:30 p.m.
Championship, Saturday August 1
Semifinal winners, 4:30 p.m.