By Barry Poe
With the high school baseball season getting underway, SBLive is looking at the best players in Iowa. In our first installment, we feature pitchers across all classifications. The state is loaded with talented pitchers and many of these hurlers excel at other positions as well. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list as there are hundreds of outstanding pitchers statewide.
Ganon Archer, Van Meter, Sr.
Archer posted an 8-1 record with a sterling 1.11 ERA, leading his team to the Class 2A state championship last summer. He had 102 strikeouts in 56.2 innings pitched, allowing only nine earned runs all season. He was named a second-team all-stater by the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.
Marcus Beatty, Independence, Sr.
One of two returning six-game winners (Korver Hupke is the other) for an Independence team that is ranked No. 24 in this week's SBLive Iowa rankings of the season.
Nate Cagley, Jesup, Sr.
Cagley had a nice junior year for the J-Hawks, and he was honored with an IPSWA second team All-State selection. Cagley was 8-2 with a 0.92 ERA on the season. Cagley could have been selected as an infielder, if not pitcher, per his great year at the plate. He batted .500 and drove in 37 runs, while only striking out 2 times in 96 at-bats.
“Nate Cagley had one of the best pitching years in Jesup history,” said Jesup head coach Bruce Wall, “Nate has great control and can throw any pitch for a strike at any time. He gives up very few walks which allows him to keep his pitch count down and finish games.”
Eli Christensen, Ankeny Christian, Soph.
Christensen had an outstanding freshman season for an Ankeny Christian squad that finished 27-5 and reached a Class 1A substate final. Christensen posted a 5-0 record in six starts with a 2.42 ERA. He got his sophomore season off to a good start, striking out 15 while pitching a three-hit shutout in a 3-1 victory over Pleasantville.
Myles Davis, Marion, Soph.
The University of Iowa commit earned a 7-0 record with a 2.47 ERA, striking out 36 in 28.1 innings pitched. Batted .496 with .565 OBP, 70 hits and 48 RBIs. Second team 3A all-state pick by the Iowa Baseball Coaches Association.
Jake DeJoode, Pleasantville, Sr.
DeJoode earned second-team all-state accolades from the IPSWA after fashioning a 6-1 record and 1.83 ERA last season. He had 57 strikeouts in 53.2 innings pitched last season.
Austin Hilmer, North Linn, Sr.
Not only did Hilmer go 10-1 on the mound for North Linn last season with an 0.80 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 60 innings pitched, he also set a state record with 75 stolen bases while batting .439 with 12 doubles, two triples, 28 RBIs and 70 runs. He was a first team all-state pick by the Iowa Baseball Coaches Association.
Spencer Hansen, Colo-NESCO, Jr.
Hansen ad an unblemished 8-0 record as a sophomore last season, striking out a whopping 92 batters in 52 innings pitched. The IPSWA named Hansen a second team all-stater in Class 2A.
Cade Hughes, Northeast, Sr.
Hughes pitched well enough last season to garner third-team all-state honors from the IPSWA. He posted a 3-0 record for Northeast and gave up just three earned runs in 29.2 innings.
Carson Knebel, Pleasant Valley, Sr.
He will be counted on to be one of the staff aces for the defending Class 4A state champions. Knebel, though, pitched very little on a senior-laden staff last season, working just 9.1 innings. Pleasant Valley lost to Johnston 12-1 in a season opener, which was a rematch of last season’s state championship game.
Blake Larson W.D.M. Dowling, Soph.
As a freshman last season, Larson pitched well enough to earn second-team Class 4A All-State honors. The talented youngster was 6-0 with a 1.23 ERA, giving up only seven earned runs in 40 innings on the mound. The Maroons made it to the Class 4A state quarterfinals, falling to Cedar Rapids Prairie.