Saturday, July 11, 2020
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

Balta hopes to bowl them over in Vegas

Drew Balta is only 18 years old, but he's been a bowler for a long time. "Ever since I could walk," he said.

He's also very good at it.

Balta was named the Iowa high school Player of the Year when he was a senior at Cedar Rapids Prairie in 2010, and he's got a bowling scholarship at William Penn University.

Bowling runs in the Balta family.

"My dad (Dan Balta) is one of the better bowlers in the Cedar Rapids area," Balta said. "He hasn't really been pushing me ever since I was little, but he was always there with a helping hand. He got me started real early."

Balta set Iowa high school records as a senior at Prairie for a two-game series (588) and per-game average (240.6). His 588 series was comprised of a 288 game and a perfect 300.

Balta is in Las Vegas with four teammates this week to compete in the 16th Annual Junior World Team Challenge at the Suncoast Hotel & Bowling Center. It's a major event with 54 teams in the Unlimited Division.


More local kids doing well

A few weeks back I talked about how truly blessed we were to have as many local metro kids doing well in their respective sports.

That trend is continuing.

In racing, last weekend was a good one for a pair of locals. First of all, Landon Cassill finished a season-best 12th at the Michigan International Speedway on Sunday in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. It has not been a secret that Cassill's car owner wants results, and soon, and this result is a great step to staying in the recently renumbered No. 51 car.

Also, recent Xavier graduate Joey Gase got a call late last week to participate in the K & N Racing Series East race at Langley Speedway in Virginia. Gase had a spin and finished a few laps behind in the race, but being asked to pilot a car shows how highly he is thought of in the national ranks.


Sedlacek powers J-Hawks' sweep

CEDAR FALLS -- Rachel Sedlacek swatted three home runs to power No. 6 Jefferson to a softball doubleheader sweep of Cedar Falls on Wednesday night.

The J-Hawks (21-4, 14-1) won the six-inning opener, 11-0, and took the nightcap, 12-4.

Sedlacek, the J-Hawks' junior leadoff batter, belted two home runs in the opener and another in the nightcap and drove in six runs. She has eight home runs and 22 RBIs.

Junior Hannah Petersen (11-3) fired a three-hitter in the opener. She was backed by an 11-hit attack. The J-Hawks scored four runs in the second inning and five in the sixth.

Senior Katie Naber (7-1) scattered six hits in the nightcap. The J-Hawks again had 11 hits and were helped by five Cedar Falls errors. The Tigers (7-17, 4-10) scored three runs in the seventh inning. There was a 20-minute rain delay in the sixth inning.

Jefferson boosted its lead in the MVC Valley Division to 1.5 games over second-place Dubuque Hempstead. The J-Hawks play their fourth doubleheader in as many nights Thursday with a twinbill at Kennedy starting at 5:30 p.m.


Larson having a blast with J-Hawks

VAN HORNE -- Alex Larson is having a blast in his senior season of playing baseball for the Jefferson J-Hawks.


Larson belted two home runs, including a grand slam, and drove in six runs in helping the J-Hawks to an 8-2 lead after 3 1/2 innings Tuesday against Benton Community. The Bobcats battled back to post a 10-9 win that sent the J-Hawks to their eighth loss in their last nine games.

Larson came into the game with a team-high .449 batting average, one home run and a team-leading 11 RBIs.  His two-run home run in the first inning staked the J-Hawks (6-15) to a 2-0 lead and his grand slam in the fourth capped a six-run frame that put Jefferson ahead, 8-2. Benton (6-13) came back with six runs in the bottom of the fourth, tacked on single runs in the fifth and sixth, and pulled out the win.

"We're playing solid, but the mental game is not there right now," said Larson, who played his second straight game at shortstop after playing most of the season at third base. He also pitches.


Xavier sweeps Kennedy in MVC softball

With what looked like heavy rain closing in, someone had to break a tie and make the game official. Xavier’s Abby Bedard made it happen.

Bedard’s two-run double in the top of the sixth inning propelled Xavier past Kennedy, 9-5, in the second game of a Mississippi Valley Conference doubleheader Tuesday night at Kennedy.

Xavier won the opener, 7-2.

Through four innings of the nightcap, Xavier was riding pitcher Erin Drahozal, an eighth grader who was retiring Kennedy batters with ease. In the bottom of the fifth, however, Kennedy caught fire and collected five singles, including a two-run hit by Amanda Gaffey to even the score at 5-5.

“We just relaxed a little after we got the 5-0 lead,” said Xavier Coach Brian Erbe. “Drahozal was coasting, then she started getting too much of the plate and that will happen to an eighth grader sometime. Kennedy did a great job of hitting.”

Bedard’s heroics came into play in the top of the sixth when she ripped a double into the right-center gap, plating two runs and pushing Xavier ahead 7-5. “Bedard’s hit was clutch, big time,” Erbe said.


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