Friday, January 24, 2020
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

Nate Woods enjoys banner year at Belmont

A total of 1,525 baseball players were selected in the Major League draft last year. High school kids, college kids, pimply faced kids, all sorts of kids.

But not Nate Woods.

"It was definitely devastating," he said this week.

Woods belted 20 home runs and drove in 78 runs last season at Belmont University to rank among the NCAA Division I leaders in both categories, but none of the 30 Major League teams gave him a sniff.

He was drafted in the 28th round by the Dodgers in 2007 when he was a senior at Xavier High School, but nobody thought he was worthy of being selected last year as a junior in college.

There were 50 rounds in the 2010 draft, and nobody thought the 6-foot-6, 235-pound slugger was worth a chance.

"I have no idea what happened last year," he said.


J-Hawks make Bulldogs say 'Unkel'

One hit was enough to make Bettendorf say "Unkel" Thursday night at the Jefferson baseball field.

Tanner Unkel's two-run single in the bottom of the fifth inning broke a scoreless tie and propelled Jefferson to a 3-0 win over Bettendorf.

Unkel's hit was the lone safety for the J-Hawks (1-1). It came after a hit batsman, base on balls and wild pitch had put J-Hawks at second and third with one out.

Unkel, the J-Hawks' speedy lead-off hitter, slapped a 1-1 fastball the opposite way past Bettendorf first baseman JP Flynn and into right field, chasing home both runners.

"He's a good opposite-field hitter and he was due," Jefferson Coach Mike Kuba said. "That was the right spot for him."

Kuba said Unkel has the green light to drop down a bunt whenever he wants. With the runners at first and second, Bettendorf put on several plays anticipating a bunt. The wild pitch moved the runners up and made it more prudent for Unkel to hit away.

"Once I saw that third baseman creeping in, I thought I might as well try to put one through the right side and see what happens," Unkel said. "I just tried to put the ball in play."

Bettendorf right-hander Alec Darrow (0-1) helped out with a pitch on the outside portion of the plate.

"I just stepped to it and rammed it down the right side," Unkel said.



Iowa may build new baseball stadium

University of Iowa officials are exploring the possibility of building a new baseball stadium.

"It's got to be done, it needs to be done," Iowa baseball coach Jack Dahm told the Metro Sports Report on Thursday.

The Hawkeyes currently play at Duane Banks Baseball Field, which was built in 1974 and has 3,000 seats. Dahm said the facility is not as good as most of the other stadiums in the Big Ten or Missouri Valley Conference.

"We're at the bottom of the barrel," he remarked.

Dahm said Gary Barta, Iowa's director of athletics, has encouraged him to explore options for a new stadium.

"This is just in the infancy part," Dahm stressed. "We're just starting to talk. We don't have any plans in place."


Marion earns softball split with Beckman

The Marion softball team split a doubleheader with Dyersville Beckman in its home opener Thursday night, showcasing both offensive and defensive talents.

After a defensive-minded pitchers duel went Beckman’s way the first game, 2-1, Marion brought the bats out during the second game and won handily, 12-2.

The first game included great pitching performances from Beckman’s Abby Fitzgerald and Marion’s Mikayla Goematt. Fitzgerald allowed one run on four hits while striking out eight.



No. 1 Cougars claim Metro title again

Cedar Rapids Kennedy ended the 2010 baseball season by winning a state title and now the Cougars have begun the 2011 campaign by claiming the Metro crown.

They haven't missed a beat.

Kennedy won the Bob Vrbicek Metro Tournament for the 11th time Wednesday night by topping Xavier, 8-3, in the championship game at chilly Veterans Memorial Stadium.

"It feels good, but we've got to stay humble and keep moving forward," said David Yancey, who pitched well in relief. "We can't be content with what we have, because we want to win another state title."

Griffin Michael went 3-for-4 with two doubles and drove in four runs for Kennedy. Austin Christensen was 2-for-3, slugged a long triple into the wind in right-center and scored four times for the Cougars (3-0).

Alex Hayden pitched four strong innings to get the victory and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the second inning by picking a runner off second base for the third out. Hayden, a junior, is bidding to become Kennedy's No.3 starter behind Christensen and Michael.


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