Sunday, August 28, 2016
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

Wood hopes to pitch for Hawkeyes

FAIRFAX - Elijah Wood was nervous before he pitched for Walford in the Iowa Valley League on Sunday because he knew Iowa Coach Rick Heller was sending one of his assistants to watch him throw, but he channeled that nervous energy into a strong outing that might land him a spot with the Hawkeyes.

Wood struck out seven batters in four innings and was the winning pitcher as Walford dumped Fairfax, 11-1, in the second game of their doubleheader at the Fairfax field.

Walford won the first game, 3-1, and jumped ahead of Fairfax into second place in the Iowa Valley League standings.

Wood, a 6-foot-4 left-hander, lives in Ainsworth, which is just a short 20-minute drive from Iowa City, and he grew up cheering for the Hawkeyes. He attended Washington High School and pitched the last two years at Marshalltown Community College, so now he's looking for an NCAA Division I school to continue his career.

Heller has not offered a scholarship yet, but the Iowa coach will probably get a favorable report from Sunday's game.

"I would very seriously consider it," said Wood. "It's close to home, I could come home and go deer hunting every weekend. It would be really cool if I could get in there. I hope they liked what they saw today."

Wood had a modest 3-5 record and 4.66 ERA at Marshalltown this past season, but those numbers should come with an asterisk. He had surgery this past December to remove a seven-inch blood clot in his left shoulder, a problem caused by a rib that affected the blood flow.


Saints sweep Wahlert on Senior Night

Senior Night always feels better when your mother gets a red rose during the on-field ceremony and your ballclub wins a pair of games to boost its confidence near the end of the season.

That was the story for the Xavier Saints Friday night.

The Saints swept Dubuque Wahlert, 7-6 in eight innings and 11-0 in five innings, in a Mississippi Valley Conference twinbill at Ken Charipar Field.

All nine seniors on the Xavier roster got into the doubleheader and all nine contributed to the victories for the Saints, who are suddenly surging now with five wins in their last six games.

Senior Bryce Charipar, bothered by an injury earlier this year but healthy now, took a one-hitter into the fifth inning of the nightcap and was looking good, but Coach Bob Cataldo removed Charipar and gave seniors Ethan Holverson and Ben Kamin a chance to pitch in the lopsided victory before family and friends on Senior Night.

"They deserved it," said Cataldo, in his first year as Xavier's head coach. "These seniors have been doing everything we've asked since February. They're there at every workout, doing everything possible.

"They might not have Division I skills," he said, "but they've got Division I heart."


Saints swept by Kennedy juggernaut

The Xavier Saints enjoyed some good moments on Senior Night Thursday, but they were no match for the softball juggernaut that resides at the other end of 42nd Street NE in Cedar Rapids.

The third-ranked Kennedy Cougars began swinging the moment they arrived at Bob Erusha Field and never stopped until they swept the Mississippi Valley Conference twinbill, 11-3 and 18-7, with 40 hits in the doubleheader.

Kennedy raised its records to 31-3 overall and 22-2 in the conference as it battles Iowa City West for an MVC title. Xavier fell to 13-24 overall and 9-15 in the league with the season dwindling to just a few more games.

The Cougars feature lusty hitting and aggressive baserunning that puts pressure on all opponent all night. Sydney Kinney led the onslaught with seven hits in the doubleheader, including a 5-for-5 performance in the nightcap, but it was hard to find a Cougar who did not have a good night at the plate.

Tianna Drahn, Ashley Hamilton, Peyton Baskerville and Camryn Jeffords all had five hits for Kennedy, while Megan Weber and Jenna Schwartzhoff had four hits apiece. Hamilton socked a home run and drove in five runs in the nightcap and Jeffords had four RBIs in that second game.

The Saints swung the bats themselves, but not to the same degree as the Cougars. They collected 10 hits against Schwartzhoff (12-3) in the first game and they had nine hits against Ashley Winterowd (12-0) in the second contest.


Nearad picks Cyclones, Carter joins Indiana St.

New Iowa State softball coach Jamie Trachsel has landed one of the top prospects in the nation after just three weeks on the job.

Taylor Nearad, who was named the National Junior College Player of the Year this season at Kirkwood, committed to Trachsel and the Cyclones Wednesday morning after a quick recruiting process.

Gabi Carter, an All-American shortstop for Kirkwood this season as a freshman, has signed with Indiana State and plans to join the Sycamores for the coming school year.

Nearad plans to return to Kirkwood for her sophomore campaign in 2017 before enrolling at Iowa State for the 2017-18 school year.

"I'm very excited," Nearad said. "They contacted me probably two weeks ago. Jamie actually came and saw me at Kirkwood and we visited for about an hour.

"I went on a visit there and I just felt like I was supposed to be there."

Nearad, from Solon, hit .602 with 30 home runs and 129 RBIs this season. She was a consensus first team All-American and was named the National Player of the Year for all divisions of junior college softball.


Saints batter Wash with 34 hits

The Xavier Saints have had a tough season so far with a 13-22 overall record, but they could be catching fire in time for the Class 4A playoffs that start next week.

Xavier collected 34 hits Tuesday night and hammered Washington, 11-1 and 12-4, in a Mississippi Valley Conference doubleheader at the Bob Erusha softball diamond at Xavier.

The Saints lost nine straight games earlier this month, but now they've won six of their last eight and are looking better.

Xavier combined lusty hitting, good pitching and tight defense to roll past the Warriors.

"They're putting it together," said Coach Nikki Gahring. "They're really coming together and things are starting to mesh. There's a whole lot of talk, a whole lot of energy."

The softball must have looked as big as a beachball to the Saints hitters Tuesday night. Olivia Richards was 6-for-6 in the doubleheader, Kailee Becker was 6-for-7 and Katie Langholz went 6-for-8 to lead the onslaught.

Richards and Stephanie Wehr drove in four runs in the doubleheader and Wehr had a game-winning double to end the opener by the mercy rule in the bottom of the sixth inning. Wehr was 4-for-7 overall, Cassie Himmelsbach was 3-for-5 and Jamie Feltes went 3-for-8.


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