CIML Baseball Preview - Central Division

CIML Central Divison

1. Ankeny Centennial (28-12 Last Season, Lost in 4A Substate Championship to Southeast Polk 6-3)

Over the past few seasons, it has felt as if the Jaguars were building towards 2020. 7 of the top 11 hitters from last season are back for Head Coach Mark Hey’s squad. A senior group consisting of Ryan Vermeer (.430 AVG, 25 RBI), Keaton Gray (.390 AVG, 24 RBI), Avery Gates (.298 AVG, 15 RBI, 13 SB) and Trey Morris (.264 AVG, 4 HR, 33 RBI) will look to make their senior season special. Morris is also a big part of the pitching rotation (2.20 ERA, 63 K’s) and will be joined by Logan Neils (2.51 ERA, 41 K’s) at the top of the group.

2.Johnston (36-6 Last Season, Lost in 4A Championship to Urbandale 8-2)

The Dragons will be looking to replace current Hawkeye baseball players Peyton Williams, Andrew Nord and Jackson Vines along with stalwarts Cade Moss and Ben Shaver. Junior shortstop Ben Wilmes (.378 AVG, 18 RBI, 11 SB) will lead the offense for an always deep Johnston squad along with Parker Shupe (.394 AVG 26 RBI), Jake Thilges (309 AVG, 27 RBI) & Gabe Swanson (.336 AVG 4 HR, 29 RBI). Nick Crandall is back on the mound after not giving up an earned run last season in 33 2/3 innings pitched along with Cooper Smith & Jacob Draeger. You’ll see some new names, but Head Coach Michael Barta always puts a good team on the field.

3. Urbandale (31-14 Last Season, Won 4A State Championship over Johnston 8-2)

The two time reigning 4A Champions will have a new look in 2020, but never count the J-Hawks out. Head Coach Jeremy Heinen has a couple of good building blocks including junior Gehrig Christensen (.412 AVG, 23 RBI) & Cal Watson (.323 AVG, 19 RBI). The pitching staff will be strong with junior Tucker (5-1, 1.63 ERA, 37 K’s) & his brother and future Hawkeye Ty (1.99 ERA, 100 K’s) Langerberg.

4. Ankeny (21-18 Last Season, Lost in 4A State Quarterfinals to Johnston 6-0)

In an inconsistent 2019, the Hawks had plenty of ups and downs. But they arrived a year early after they ran through ranked Des Moines Roosevelt 16-0 in the Substate finals and punched their ticket to the state tournament. A big group of sophomores are now upperclassman as juniors and certainly will be getting everybody’s attention. Lead by future Hawkeye football wide receiver and two way player Brody Brecht (.371 AVG, 3 HR, 30 RBI, 2.46 ERA, 70 K’s) is joined by classmates Cael Boyd (.342 AVG, 16 RBI), Weston Fulk (.261 AVG, 1 HR, 30 RBI), Jase Bauer, Carter Smith, Kade Somers and Cooper Cox. The talent is immense for the Hawks and have a chance to take another step forward and a return trip to the state tournament.

5. Dowling Catholic (31-12 Last Season, Lost in 4A State Semifinals to Johnston 7-0)

The decision of Carter Baumler certainly weighs on where to put the Maroons. A long time commit to TCU, the MLB Draft awaits. Adam Brauch is one of the best defenders in the CIML at shortstop and carries a big stick (.381 AVG, 34 RBI). Even without Baumler, the pitching staff has depth and experience. Charlie Corell (2.95 ERA, 17 K’s), Nic Wilkinson (1.65 ERA) & Nyanti Gehrke (3.00 ERA, 32 K’s) are back on the bump for Dowling Catholic this season and will keep them in games if they can find some new players to provide offense.

6. Ames (8-31 Last Season, Lost in 1st Round of Substate to Dowling Catholic 7-2)

New Head Coach Nick Steenhagen takes over the Little Cyclone program after a tough 2019. The Little Cyclones will be lead by juniors Eliot Jurgensen (.400 AVG, 24 RBI) & Brady Burkheimer (.303 AVG, 15 RBI) and senior Cameron Gallt (.398 AVG, 11 RBI). Playing in the toughest division in the state of Iowa makes it a tough hill to climb for any program.

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