Your Prep Sports
The fields for the Class 1A and 2A state baseball tournaments are set.
Substate finals in the smallest two classes were held on Tuesday with the two larger classes getting into the act on Wednesday.
By Wednesday evening all 32 teams that will compete for state titles next week in Carroll and Iowa City will be determined.
Before first pitches are tossed on Wednesday we take a look at the two Class 4A substate finals featuring teams from the Your Prep Sports area.
Class 4A, Substate 2
Liberty High (22-17) at No. 2 Cedar Rapids Prairie (33-6)
When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Cedar Rapids Prairie High School
Top players: Liberty High – Luke Ramsey, Sr., .297 BA, 30 Runs, 22 RBI; Ryan Schmierer, .375 BA, 22 Runs, 13 RBI, 13 BB. Cedar Rapids Prairie – Maddux Frese, Sr., .383 BA, 4 HR, 33 RBI, 8-0, 1.81 ERA, 59 K, 54 IP; Cal Sullivan, Sr., .400 BA, 17 2B, 47 RBI.
About the Lightning: Liberty High finally broke through last season making its first ever state tournament appearance following a 5-4 win over defending champion Pleasant Valley in the substate title game.
A second consecutive state tournament trip will require the up-start Lightning to take down another perennial Eastern Iowa power in Cedar Rapids Prairie.
The Lightning downed Davenport North 5-3 in the Substate 2 quarterfinal and held on for a 3-2 win over Davenport Central in the semifinals on Wednesday.
With the two postseason wins Liberty High has now won six of its last seven games dating back to a June 30 sweep of cross-town rival West High.
Liberty High enters hitting .275 as a team led by junior Ryan Schmierer who is hitting a team-leading .375 and senior Luke Ramsey who is batting .297 and leads the Lightning with 30 runs scored and 22 RBI.
Sophomore third baseman Cooper Hughes is hitting .289 and has driven in 21 runs while senior Mason Gardner has 20 RBI.
About the Hawks: Among the most successful programs in the state over the last several seasons Cedar Rapids Prairie has already secured a third straight 30-win season and will be seeking a third consecutive state tournament appearance on Wednesday.
Cedar Rapids Prairie has been as impressive as any team in 4A this season going 10-4 against ranked Class 4A and 3A competition while winning the Mississippi Valley Conference Mississippi Division title.
The Hawks hit, ranking sixth in 4A with a .317 team batting average, but where Prairie really excels is with pitching and defense.
Prairie leads 4A with a .959 field percentage and ranks sixth in 4A with a 2.62 ERA.
Senior ace Maddux Frese is the likely starter after needing just 86 pitches to earn a complete game victory in a 9-1 quarterfinal win over Cedar Rapids Washington.
The Hawks are full stacked behind Frese with juniors Kam Volz (6-2, 2.68 ERA), Logan Wagemester (6-2, 2.89) and Reid Burkle (6-0, 1.67 ERA) all with at least six wins and ERAs below 3.00.
The Prairie lineup is led by Frese (.383 BA, 45 Runs) and fellow seniors Kade Knock and Cal Sullivan.
Knock is hitting a team-high .427 and leads the team with 55 runs scored and 25 stolen bases while Sullivan has driven in 47 runs and walked 33 times while posting a .561 on-base percentage.
What to watch: Cedar Rapids Prairie swept Liberty High in a doubleheader last month winning games 5-0 and 6-3 on June 5 in North Liberty.
The Lightning had seven hits in each game but pushed across just three runs in the nightcap.
Scoring opportunities could be hard to come by on Wednesday so the key for Liberty High is making the most of those chances.
Liberty High will look to senior Luke Ramsey to spark things from the top of the order.
The senior centerfield was 5-for-8 in the doubleheader against Cedar Rapids Prairie earlier this season and has been playing the best baseball of his career over the past several weeks.
Ramsey is 4-of-5 with a double and an RBI in two postseason wins and has scored five of the eight Liberty High runs in substate play.
If Ramsey and Schmierer can continue their hot hitting at the top of the order it will be a big boost for the Lightning in creating scoring opportunities.
Class 4A, Substate 6
No. 9 Pleasant Valley (27-15) at No. 4 City High (29-12)
When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Mercer Park in Iowa City
Top players: City High – Dominic Salibi, Soph., .423 BA, 19 EBH, 3 HR, 32 RBI; Drew Carlson, Sr., .358 BA, 5 HR, 31 RBI, 37 Runs. Pleasant Valley – Tate Lyon, Jr., .373 BA, 35 Runs, 17 RBI; Ike Swanson, Sr., .300 BA, 3 HR, 46 RBI.
About the Little Hawks: A state semifinalist last season City High is seeking a second consecutive state tournament appearance which would be the third trip for the Little Hawks in the past four seasons.
City High enters the substate title game as hot as any team in the state, riding a 12-game winning streak in which the Little Hawks have outscored opponents 110 to 18 and tossed five shutouts.
The Little Hawks downed Muscatine 2-1 in the Substate 6 quarterfinals on Friday, the ninth game during its current 12-game winning streak that City High has allowed one or fewer runs.
Seven Little Hawks are hitting over .300 on the season led by sophomore Dominic Salibi who is batting a team-high .423 with three home runs and 32 RBI and senior DJ Hodges who is hitting .372 with four home runs and 31 RBI.
Senior outfield Drew Carlson is hitting .358 and leads City High with five home runs and 42 RBI.
About the Spartans: Pleasant Valley is seeking fourth state tournament trip in the past five seasons after having its string of three consecutive appearances snapped last season with a loss to Liberty High in the substate final.
The Spartans avenged a pair of regular season losses to Dubuque Senior with a 5-3 win over the Rams in the substate quarterfinals and defeated North Scott 4-3 in nine innings on Monday in the Substate 6 semifinal.
With its back-to-back postseason wins Pleasant Valley has now won seven of its last nine games dating back to last month after a four-game losing skid that started with a 2-1 loss to City High on June 21.
Six regulars in the Spartan lineup are batting over .300 on the season led by junior Tate Lyon (.373) and senior Caden McDermott (.367).
Seniors Cal Parr and Ike Swanson have combined for 24 extra-base hits, six home runs and 81 RBI.
Freshman Lincoln Dalton is the likely starter for the Spartans and is 8-1 with a 1.99 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 45 2/3 innings.
What to watch: The substate title game is a rematch of a regular season game won by City High 2-1 in Bettendorf last month.
That win was the fourth straight victory for City High over Pleasant Valley, a streak that stretches back to 2020.
The last three meetings between the two teams have all been low scoring with finals of 1-0, 4-2 and 2-1.
Combine that history with the normal low scoring nature of substate final and runs could be at a premium on Wednesday.
City High is making its fourth consecutive substate final appearance and has scored more than four runs in just one of its previous three finals appearances, an 8-0 win over Bettendorf last season.
Pleasant Valley is in its fifth consecutive substate final and has scored more than four runs just once in that span, when it had 12 in a win over Liberty High in 2020.
Look for another low scoring game on Wednesday at pitcher friendly Mercer Park.