Your Prep Sports
Half of the state tournament field is set.
Classes 1A and 2A held substate finals around the state on Tuesday with the final 16 state tournament up for grabs on Wednesday.
The big schools get into the action on Wednesday with substate finals in Class 3A and 4A taking place around Iowa.
Winners on Wednesday secure spots at the state tournament next week at Banks Field in Iowa City.
Before the action gets rolling on Wednesday we take a quick look at the three substate finals featuring teams from the Your Prep Sports area.
Class 3A, Substate 3
Clear Creek Amana (23-10) at No. 6 Western Dubuque (28-11)
When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Farley Community Park
Top players: Clear Creek Amana – Ben Swails, Sr., .491, 9 HR, 56 RBI; Sam Young, Sr., .374 BA, 33 Runs, 24 RBI. Western Dubuque – Garrett Kadolph, Sr., .430 BA, 7 HR, 47 RBI; Isaac Then, .390 BA, 14 2B, 33 RBI.
About the Clippers: Clear Creek Amana made its first ever state tournament appearance in 2020 and has been chasing a return trip ever since.
The Clippers have been impressive in the postseason defeating Charles City 12-2 in the quarterfinals and downing second-seeded Waverly-Shell Rock 9-3 in the semifinals.
Clear Creek Amana went 4-5 to close the regular season but has cleaned things up considerable in substate play.
The Clippers are averaging 8.7 runs over their last 13 games and have scored double digit runs six times during that stretch.
Clear Creek Amana has six players in its potent lineup hitting over .300 on the season led by Iowa commit Ben Swails who is batting a team-high .491 with 22 extra-base hits, nine home runs and 56 RBI.
Sam Young (.374), Parker Smith (.330) and Reece Hoffman (.324) have all offered protection for Swails in the order along with junior Jack Downes (3 HR, 33 RBI).
About the Bobcats: Western Dubuque is seeking a return to the state tournament for the first time since making back-to-back appearances in Class 4A in 2018 and 2019.
The 28-11 record for the Bobcats has come against a rigorous schedule that saw Western Dubuque split doubleheaders with ranked teams City High, Dubuque Wahlert, Cedar Rapids Xavier, Pleasant Valley and Western Dubuque.
Western Dubuque has outscored postseason opponents Crestwood and Benton Community by a combined score of 17-2.
The Bobcats have a solid four-man pitching rotation with seniors Nathan Roling (3-2, 2.90 ERA) and Tucker Nauman (7-2, 3.87 ERA) and juniors Ryan Klosterman (4-4, 3.98) and Isaac Then (6-0, 1.80). Nauman went six innings in the semifinal win over Benton Community on Monday leaving the Bobcats well stocked behind him.
What to watch: Who gets out early?
Neither of these teams have trailed in the postseason and while both are certainly capable of coming from behind whoever scores first could have a significant advantage on Wednesday.
Clear Creek Amana broke open its quarterfinal win over Charles City with seven runs in the second inning and scored four in the third in a win over Waverly-Shell Rock.
Western Dubuque scored in the first against Benton Community and led 3-0 after three innings and put up two runs in the second inning of an 8-0 quarterfinal win over Crestwood.
An early lead can take some pressure off of pitchers in a high-leverage, winner-take-all playoff game.
Class 4A, Substate 5
Liberty High (20-19) at No. 9 Pleasant Valley (24-11)
When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Pleasant Valley High School
Top players: Liberty High – Luke Meyers, Sr., .363, 30 runs, 18 SB; Ian Gates, Sr., .345, 19 RBI. Pleasant Valley – Caden McDermott, Jr., .423 BA, 34 Runs, 21 RBI; Drew Micek, 12 EBH, 30 RBI.
About the Lightning: It was a roller coaster of a regular season for Liberty High which went 3-1 against top-three ranked teams Cedar Rapids Prairie and City High but struggled at other times losing eight of 11 after its sweep of City High.
The postseason is where the Lightning have found their footing.
After going 18-19 in the regular season Liberty High has rattled off back-to-back postseason wins, 5-3 over Clinton in the quarterfinals and a 14-1 victory over eighth-ranked Cedar Falls in the semifinals on Monday.
A Liberty High lineup that has run hot and cold this season has heated up in a big way of late led by seniors Luke Meyers (.363 BA), Hayden Vickroy (.375 BA) and Ian Gates (.345).
About the Spartans: The defending 4A state champion Pleasant Valley is seeking a fourth consecutive state tournament appearance.
After quarterfinal exits in 2019 and 2020 the Spartans stopped Johnston shy of a 4A repeat with a 14-5 win over the Dragons in last year’s 4A title game.
Now it is the Spartans that are seeking a second consecutive state title run that continues with a substate final win on Wednesday.
Pleasant Valley survived a scare from seven-win Dubuque Senior in the quarterfinal winning 1-0 in nine innings.
The top-seeded Spartans have relied heavily on quarterfinal starter Sam George who is 5-1 with a 2.38 ERA in a team-leading 50 innings.
Aden O’Donnell (2-1, 3.99) and Carson Knebel (2-2, 5.83 ERA) are the only other Spartans with more than 20 innings this season.
What to watch: These two teams meet for the second time in the substate title game in three seasons.
Pleasant Valley defeated Liberty High 12-3 in the 2020 substate championship and to secure its second of three straight state tournament appearances.
While the Spartans are postseason veterans Liberty High is seeking its first ever state tournament appearance in its second substate final in three seasons.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a Liberty High team that entered the postseason a game below .500.
The Lightning have been loose of late and that can be key when substate games get tight.
Class 4A, Region 6
Bettendorf (15-20) at No. 2 City High (30-8)
When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Mercer Park in Iowa City
Top players: City High – Gable Mitchell, Sr., .472 BA, 27 RBI; Joe Bouska, Sr., .366 BA, 38 Runs. Bettendorf – Connor Chase, Jr., .376 BA, 3 HR, 20 RBI; Wrigley Matthys, Fr., .355 BA, 18 RBI.
About the Little Hawks: City High ended a 16-year state tournament drought in 2020 and just missed a return trip a year ago with a loss at Ottumwa in the substate title game.
This season the Little Hawks did the work throughout the season to set themselves up for a second trip to state in three seasons.
City High spent virtually the entire season ranked in the top five and won 29 regular season games to secure the top seed in Substate 8.
Now City High coming off the semifinal bye after downing Muscatine 5-0 in the quarterfinals on Friday.
Senior Cade Obermueller (5-1, 1.35 ERA, 85 K) struck out 14 in six shutout innings against the Muskies and leads a deep, talented and rested City High rotation that also includes junior Alex Knudtson (3-1, 2.92 ERA) and freshman Talon Young (3-2, 2.51 ERA).
About the Bulldogs: Bettendorf has been one of the bigger Cinderlla stories of the 4A postseason advancing to the Substate 5 title game as the number four seed.
The Bulldogs would be one of the biggest stories state-wide if they can pull the upset on Wednesday and return to the state tournament for the first time since 2002.
Bettendorf defeated third-seeded Burlington 3-1 in the quarterfinals and knocked off second seed North Scott 3-2 in the semifinals.
Pitching has been the key to the postseason success for Bettendorf with the Bulldogs allowing a combined three runs on 11 hits in its two wins.
Junior Luke Bohonek (5-0, 2.37 ERA) has been the Bulldog ace this season and fanned nine in the quarterfinal win over Burlington.
What to watch: These two teams played earlier this season with City High winning 10-0 back on June 1.
Sophomore Max Waldschmidt spun a three-hit shutout over five innings and City High hammered 11 hits in that meeting at Mercer Park.
Don’t put too much stock in that early season meeting with tonight’s game, different on every level including the likely starting pitchers.
The key for City High tonight is to remain loose.
These games can be tough for heavy favorites, which City High is, especially at home while Bettendorf has the luxury of the aggressiveness that comes with being a heavy underdog.
If City High can get a couple of runs early things should get significantly more comfortable for the Little Hawks.