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Kennedy High School - Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Kennedy falls to IC West in semis

DES MOINES - The 30 Herkelmans on the Kennedy baseball team walked slowly out of Principal Park in Des Moines Friday night with a whole bunch of crazy mixed-up emotions running through their souls.

There was sadness and disappointment, naturally, but also a great deal of pride for surviving a traumatic week that included the sudden death of assistant coach Bill "Herk" Herkelman.

The sixth-ranked Cougars made too many errors and too many mistakes and lost to eighth-ranked Iowa City West, 5-2, in the semifinals of the Class 4A state tournament.

Kennedy (30-12) committed three errors in the second inning, handing Iowa City West a gift 3-0 lead, and the Cougars were never able to overcome their early mishaps.

Herkelman, 77, died last Friday. His funeral services were Tuesday and the Class 4A state tournament began Wednesday, quite a task for a bunch of high school kids who loved the man.

Last Updated on Friday, 31 July 2015 22:23

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Lizarraga has D-I coaches buzzing

Sammy Lizarraga's phone has been ringing following his sensational performance at the Class 4A state baseball tournament Wednesday night in Des Moines.

Lizarraga struck out 14 batters with a 94 mph fastball and a crackling curveball as the sixth-ranked Kennedy Cougars trimmed Davenport North, 3-2, in the quarterfinals at Principal Park.

Lizarraga, a 6-foot-5 right-hander, has signed with Wabash Valley College in Mt. Carmel, Ill., and plans to enroll at the junior college in a few weeks, but some big-time NCAA Division I programs are making a late pitch to see if he'll change his mind.

"Kansas State called me last week and they called me again last night," Lizarraga said Thursday afternoon. "And then I got call from Coach (Eric) Snider at Louisville last night."

Snider, who played at Northern Iowa, is an assistant coach at Louisville following a long stint at Illinois.

Last Updated on Thursday, 30 July 2015 15:49

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Lizarraga sparkles as Cougars win for Herk

DES MOINES - A traumatic few days for the Cedar Rapids Kennedy baseball team ended with a magnificent performance by Sammy Lizarraga at the Class 4A state tournament Wednesday night.

Lizarraga sizzled on the mound with 14 strikeouts and the Cougars made a heart-felt tribute to Bill "Herk" Herkelman with a tense 3-2 victory over Davenport North at Principal Park in Des Moines.

Kennedy (30-11) will face Iowa City West (33-11) in the semifinals Friday night at 7:30.

The emotional week for the Cougars began last Wednesday night with an 18-1 victory over Cedar Falls in the substate finals. Two days later, they learned the horrible news that Herkelman - their beloved 77-year-old assistant coach - had died after suffering a stroke.

All the Cougars attended Herkelman's funeral service on Tuesday, then got on the bus Wednesday and traveled to Des Moines for the state tournament.

"The last week has been like a roller-coaster," said Lizarraga. "It's been an emotional week for all of us. We're on a high right now and we plan on keeping it that way."

Lizarraga tossed a three-hitter with a blazing fastball and sharp breaking ball. He just missed matching the all-time record of 15 strikeouts in a state tournament game, shared by six pitchers.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 July 2015 20:25

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Cougars carry Herk's No. 29 to state

The Kennedy Cougars bid their final farewell to Bill Herkelman on Tuesday at the funeral service for their beloved assistant coach, but they'll carry Herk's jersey No. 29 with them onto the field at the Class 4A state baseball tournament Wednesday at Principal Park in Des Moines.

All of the Kennedy players have new practice T-shirts for the state tournament and all the shirts have Herkelman's No. 29 on the back in big numbers. So when the Cougars take the field for pre-game drills Wednesday, there will be several dozen No. 29's all over the place.

The Cougars will then wear their special T-shirts under their game jerseys for their Class 4A quarterfinal matchup against Davenport North at 5 p.m.

All of the Cougars, including head coach Bret Hoyer and his assistants, wore their new shirts to the funeral service for Herkelman on Tuesday at the Faith Lutheran Church in Marion. Herkelman, 77, died Friday after suffering a stroke last Thursday.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 July 2015 05:03

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5 Metro players picked for all-star games

Five baseball players from Metro high schools have been selected to play in the 2015 IHSBCA All-Star Series that will be held Aug. 6-9 in Clinton.

Zach Daniels of Kennedy, Sammy Lizarraga of Kennedy, Lucas Larson of Jefferson, David Kuhn of Marion and Trey Beckman of Prairie will play for the Large Schools East Squad in the series, which is sponsored by the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association.

The team will play games against Large Schools West, Small Schools East and Small Schools West.

Marion High School Coach Steve Fish will serve as the head coach for Large Schools East.

The games will be played at Ashford University Field, the home of the Clinton LumberKings in the Midwest League.

   

Kennedy legend Bill Herkelman dies

Bill "Herk" Herkelman, the beloved Kennedy High School teacher and baseball coach, died Friday morning at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics after suffering a stroke on Thursday.

Herkelman was an iconic figure with the Kennedy baseball program for 36 years as a head coach and assistant coach and is a member of the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

The Kennedy High School field was named in his honor last year.

"He is the godfather of Kennedy baseball. That's probably all that needs to be said," Kennedy head coach Bret Hoyer said somberly Friday. "We'll try to carry on his legacy every year."

Herkelman compiled a 318-224 record as Kennedy's head coach from 1977 through 1992 with five Metro titles, two Mississippi Valley Conference titles and two trips to the state tournament.

He served as an assistant baseball coach at Kennedy from 1968 through 1976 before becoming the head coach. He returned to the coaching staff as one of Hoyer's assistants in 2005 and was in the dugout Wednesday night when the Cougars defeated Cedar Falls to make the Class 4A state tournament.

Last Updated on Friday, 24 July 2015 10:12

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Cougars rock Tigers in substate final

Believe it or not, there was actually a little suspense in Wednesday night's Class 4A substate final between Kennedy and Cedar Falls.

It lasted about all of 15 minutes.

The Cougars survived a first-inning case of the jitters to keep the visiting Tigers off the scoreboard.

From that point on, it was all Kennedy. The Cougars scored four runs in each of the first two innings, then added 10 in the third en route to an 18-1, four-inning win over a pitching-strapped Cedar Falls squad at Herkelman Field, earning a second straight trip to state.

Coach Bret Hoyer's team (29-11) got the No. 2 seed and will meet No. 7 seed Davenport North (19-14) in a state quarterfinal game at 5 p.m. next Wednesday at Principal Park in Des Moines. This will be the Cougars' 13th trip to state in Hoyer's 23 years as Kennedy head coach. They won a state title in 2010.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 July 2015 21:40

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IHSAA needs to fix 4A substates

When I'm the new king of the Iowa High School Athletic Association, the first thing we're going to do is fix the Class 4A substate baseball tournaments.

It's long overdue.

This business of awarding second-round byes has to end. And this business of spreading the substate tournaments over six days has to end as well to prevent teams from riding a stud pitcher all the way to the state tournament.

As it stands now, a No. 1 seed can win an opening-round game on Friday with its star pitcher, draw a second-round bye on Monday and come back with its star pitcher in the substate finals on Wednesday with plenty of rest.

Baseball is a team game and should showcase an entire pitching staff, not just one guy.

We also have to change the system so we don't put Cedar Rapids Prairie and Iowa City West, two of the best teams in our area, in the same substate. Both of those teams deserve a clean shot at making the state tournament, but that won't happen this year because they're likely to meet in the substate finals Wednesday night and one of them will be eliminated.

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Kennedy rolls on 2-hitter in substate

The Kennedy Cougars rolled by Waterloo East, 8-0, on a combined two-hitter in the opening round of the Class 4A substate baseball tournament at Kennedy Friday night.

Sammy Lizarraga blew the Trojans away during his four innings on the mound for Kennedy. The big right-hander struck out eight batters, walked one and did not allow any hits.

Blake Hargens struck out three batters during his one inning for the Cougars, then Zach Daniels fanned two more during his two innings. Hargens allowed one hit and Daniels also allowed one hit.

The three Kennedy pitchers combined for 13 strikeouts.

Kennedy, the No. 1 seed in the substate tournament, raised its record to 28-11. The Cougars earned a bye in the second round and will face Linn-Mar or Cedar Falls in the substate finals next Wednesday night at Kennedy. Cedar Falls visits Linn-Mar Monday night in the semifinals.

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Hansen tops all-Metro softball team

Cedar Rapids Jefferson catcher Maddie Hansen has been named the Athlete of the Year on the All-Metro Softball Team, as selected by Metro coaches.

Hansen, a senior, is hitting .504 with 11 home runs and 46 RBIs to rank among the state leaders in all three departments. She plans to play next season at Kirkwood Community College.

Hansen has helped the third-ranked J-Hawks reach the Class 5A state tournament with a 35-7 record. Jefferson will face Linn-Mar in the opening round at 3:30 p.m. Monday in Fort Dodge.

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