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If you like powerful pitchers, Principal Park is place to be this week


1:00 AM, Jul. 29, 2013 EDT

Joe Hawks of Johnston can reach 90 mph. / CHARLIE LITCHFIELD/THE REGISTER

Warm up the radar guns: Some serious heat is coming to Principal Park.

A few of the state's hardest-throwing pitchers will take the bump as the Class 3-A and 4-A state baseball tournaments begin Tuesday and Wednesday.

"It seems like everybody's got a couple of those kids," Johnston coach Michael Barta said. "That's kind of the (trend). There are more and more power arms out there."

Pitchers with overpowering fastballs are on just about every staff in the large-school divisions.

Barta's ace, Joe Hawks, has touched 90 mph. So have Sioux City East's Jake Westphal, Cedar Rapids Xavier's Mitch Keller and Ankeny right-hander Nick Belzer.

Belzer's teammate, Ankeny junior Keaton McKinney, may be the fastest of them all. The Arkansas recruit sports an 8-0 record with a tiny 0.39 ERA thanks in part to a mid-90s heater.

And that's just the short list. Most of them will be on the hill in Des Moines this week.

"I don't remember a tournament quite like this," Ankeny coach Mark Hey said. "I think it's a good sign."

Hey credits a commitment to year-round throwing programs that have helped pitchers improve arm strength.

McKinney is one of those pitchers who has benefited. The right-hander started his varsity career with a mid-80s fastball, but through a combination of working out and growing up, he has become one of the fastest high school pitchers in the nation.

Hard-throwing starters like McKinney will be the key to success for many teams this week.

"You're looking at eight teams that all legitimately have a chance to win, and it really starts with the kids on the mound," Hey said.

Having a speedy pitcher on the mound helps, but facing a few throughout the season might be even more beneficial when it comes to tournament time.

"It definitely prepares you when you're facing everyone's No. 1," McKinney said.

Top-ranked Ankeny looks to repeat in Class 4-A. Dallas Center-Grimes will go for its second straight title in 3-A.

"I don't think we have that much pressure," McKinney said. "We've been the No. 1 team in the state all season. We've kind of accepted that role."

SCHEDULE

CLASS 1-A July 26 Quarterfinals Mason City Newman 11, Woodbury Central 6 Twin Cedars (Bussey) 4, Martensdale-St. Marys 1 (9 innings) July 27 Quarterfinals Van Meter 6, Remsen St. Mary's 4 Van Buren (Keosauqua) 6, Don Bosco (Gilbertville) 5 (8 innings) Thursday's Semifinals Mason City Newman (27-6) vs. Twin Cedars (Bussey) (36-2), noon Van Meter (34-8) vs. Van Buren (25-5), 2 p.m. Saturday's Championship Semifinal winners, noon CLASS 2-A Monday's Quarterfinals Roland-Story 2, Mount Vernon 1 Dyersville Beckman 3, Waterloo Columbus 2 Carroll Kuemper 5, Spirit Lake 1 North Polk 2, Albia 1 (13 innings) Thursday's Semifinals Roland-Story (28-13) vs. Beckman (Dyersville) (34-6),6 p.m. Carroll Kuemper (29-6) vs. North Polk (30-4), 8 p.m. Saturday's Championship Semifinal winners, 2 p.m. CLASS 3-A Tuesday's Quarterfinals Boone (23-10) vs. Davenport Assumption (24-15), noon Sioux City Heelan (34-4) vs. Williamsburg (20-18), 2 p.m. Chariton (35-5) vs. Clear Lake (35-3), 6 p.m. Harlan (28-7) vs. Dallas Center-Grimes (21-13), 8 p.m. CLASS 4-A Wednesday's quarterfinals Johnston (26-12) vs. Linn-Mar (Marion) (27-15), noon D.M. East (36-4) vs. Davenport North (23-15), 2 p.m. Sioux City East (30-9) vs. Cedar Rapids Xavier (25-15), 6 p.m. Ankeny (34-7) vs. Clinton (25-14), 8 p.m.

 

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Rank School Record
1 Southeast Polk High School
Runnells, IA
15-3-0
2 Waukee High School
Waukee, IA
9-1-0
3 Des Moines North High School
Des Moines, IA
9-1-0
4 Johnston High School
Johnston, IA
16-4-0
5 Valley HS-West Des Moines
West Des Moines, IA
8-6-0

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