Monday, December 09, 2019
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

Father's Day message: Beware of curveballs

Like many of you, reflections of Father’s Day center on sports, the days you spent on the diamond or court or field when Dad was either coaching or watching.

Dads teach you lessons, whether they mean to or not. That’s what happened when I was a young baseball player.

I was probably 10 or 12 at the time, playing in the popular Cedar Hills Booster Club league at Cherry Hill Park. One summer day, our team was practicing on Diamond #1, the big field on what was then a three-diamond complex.

I was taking batting practice. A big, strong right-hander named Larry Paxton was pitching to us. Dad was standing behind Larry, analyzing our at-bats.

On one pitch, as I learned later, Dad leaned into Larry and said something along the lines of, “Throw him a curveball and see what he can do.’’ Larry was a year older than us and capable of throwing a breaking ball. I hadn’t seen many at that time.

The pitch came to me and it appeared the ball was headed right for my head. Instead of turning or backing away, I ducked down. The ball, of course, curved and smacked me right in the nose. Blood spurted and my nose was smashed. Dad loaded me in the car and we went to the hospital for repairs.



J-Hawks suffer 1st MVC softball loss

No. 6 ranked Cedar Rapids Jefferson dropped its first game of Mississippi Valley Conference play in the nightcap of a softball doubleheader Monday against No. 7 Iowa City West.

Jefferson won the opener, 2-1, then dropped the nightcap, 3-1.

Mackenzie Laux, a transfer from Piken, Ill., baffled the J-Hawk bats for most of the nightcap with a fastball near 65 mph and a good screwball.

Jefferson (17-4, 10-1) didn’t manage to get a hit off Laux until the fifth inning when sophomore Kaitlyn Davidson singled. The perfect game was broken up when Laux hit junior Hannah McInerney in the second.

“Their second pitcher (Laux) just threw it by kids,” Jefferson Coach Larry Niemeyer said. “We just couldn’t pull the trigger.”

Jefferson managed just one run on an RBI single by Hannah Petersen in the sixth inning after junior Rachel Sedlacek tripled leading off the inning.

The Women of Troy (15-5, 10-4) got on the board early against senior Katie Naber after Alise Miller singled in Tatum Klein, who had walked to lead off the inning.  Miller added another RBI with a sacrifice bunt in the third after a leadoff single by Amber Tomas.

West added another run in the sixth.

“If we are going to be a really good team we can’t just get one run,” Niemeyer said. “We have to tack some more on.”

The J-Hawks won the opener of the doubleheader behind a strong performance from Petersen, their junior ace. Petersen allowed only three hits.



Kellen Sweeney promoted to Bluefield Blue Jays

Kellen Sweeney woke up Saturday morning in the cool mountain air in Bluefield, W.Va., refreshed and ready for his next stop in professional baseball.

The Toronto Blue Jays have assigned Sweeney to the Bluefield Blue Jays in the Appalachian League, a 10-team rookie league with teams in Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia and Tennessee.

Sweeney had been in extended spring training in Dunedin, Fla., since late February, living in the same hotel for four months and playing baseball in hot, sweaty conditions.

The Blue Jays told him last Thursday to pack his bags, because he was moving up in the world after playing in the Florida Gulf Coast League in 2010. He flew to Charlotte, N.C., on Friday and had a three-hour bus ride to Bluefield.

He already likes the climate, especially compared to Florida.

"The weather is very cool. Everybody is loving it," Sweeney said Sunday. "We're not sweating before we even stretch.

"It would be really hot in Dundedin. You'd be drenched by the time you were done stretching. You had to wear two shirts every day."

Sweeney (Cedar Rapids Jefferson, 2010) is one of four Metro athletes who will be playing in the minor leagues this season, joining Scott Schebler (Cedar Rapids Prairie, 2009), Matt Holland (Marion, 2006) and Nate Woods (Xavier, 2007).

Schebler has been assigned by the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Ogden Raptors in Ogden, Utah, in the Pioneer League. Holland will be playing for the Clearwater Phillies in Clearwater, Fla., in the Florida Gulf Coast League. Woods will be playing for the Florida Marlins in Jupiter, Fla., in the Gulf Coast League.


Ryan Sweeney update

Former Xavier prep Ryan Sweeney started in left field and was 0-for-3 Sunday in the Oakland Athletics' 2-1 win over the San Francisco Giants at Oakland.

The Athletics' next game is Tuesday (June 21) at New York against the Mets. Game time is 6:10 p.m. (Iowa time).

Ryan Sweeney File

Last game: Started in left field and was 0-for-3 against the San Francisco Giants on June 19.

Year-to-date: Batting avg. -- .268 (30-112), HR -- 0, RBI -- 7, 2B -- 5, 3B -- 1, R -- 15, SB -- 1.



J-Hawks only Metro team with tourney bye

DES MOINES -- Cedar Rapids Jefferson was the only Metro softball team to receive a first-round bye Monday when pairings for the regional tournaments were released by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union.

Jefferson, ranked sixth in the latest Class 4A poll, received a bye in Region 2. The J-Hawks will host either Cedar Rapids Washington or Waterloo East in a regional semifinal on July 11 at 7 p.m.  Washington plays at East in the first round on July 9. The other half of Region 2 has Des Moines North, Marshalltown and #13 West Des Moines Dowling. The regional final is July 13 at Marshalltown.

Prairie plays at Xavier in the Region 4 first round on July 9. The winner plays at No. 7 Iowa City West in the regional semifinals on July 11. The other half of Region 4 includes Newton, Urbandale and No. 14 Des Moines Lincoln. The regional final is July 13 at Iowa City West.

Kennedy plays at Linn-Mar in the Region 5 first round on July 9. The winner plays at No. 3 Muscatine in the regional semifinals on July 11. The other half of Region 5 includes Davenport Central, Pleasant Valley and No. 9 Davenport West.

Marion is in Region 4 in Class 3A. The Indians host Center Point-Urbana on July 9. If they win they play at Solon against either Anamosa or No. 6 Solon. The other half of Region 4 includes Maquoketa, Davenport Assumption, DeWitt Central and No. 9 Mount Vernon. The regional final is July 13 at Solon.

The state softball tournament runs July 18-22 at Fort Dodge.


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