It’s championship Saturday, and for Newman Catholic, that means yet another chance to win a state title. As the Knights get ready to play Don Bosco in the Class 1A title game, it’s time to remember the players that made the biggest difference for their teams in the 2020 season.
The Globe Gazette will release its All-Area baseball and softball teams in a few weeks, but the following list is the year’s biggest difference makers on offense and pitching for North Iowa’s baseball programs.
Reese Moore, Forest City: When it comes to offense, nobody in North Iowa had a bigger year at the plate than Reese Moore. Moore finished the season with a .585 batting average, a .767 on-base percentage, eight home runs, and 35 RBI. Moore was also one of the Indians’ best pitchers, with a 2.92 ERA and a .131 opponent batting average.
Moore’s eight homers ranked second in the state, behind only Cael Frost of Don Bosco, and his 35 RBI was fourth-best in Iowa, and the junior led his team in eight offensive categories, and was named to the Top of Iowa West First Team.
Max Burt, Newman Catholic: Burt, a freshman, broke out this season as a potent offensive force . As one of only two returning starters from the 2019 season for Newman, Burt immediately became a team leader. He led the Knights in hits, home runs, RBI, and batting average, and is currently tied with Don Bosco’s Frost for the state lead with 43 RBI.
Burt was named to the Top of Iowa East First Team.
Carter Salz, St. Ansgar: The Saints’ junior led the team with a .368 batting average and a .513 on-base percentage, with a team-high seven extra-base hits and 15 RBI on the season. Salz, along with teammates Ryan Cole and Mark Williams, was named to the Top of Iowa East First Team.
Carter Thomas, Mason City: Thomas had a fantastic year on offense for the Mohawks, leading the team with a .456 average and an OBP of .506. Thomas also had a team-high 36 hits and 21 stolen bases for Mason City, and his total of 13 RBI was good for third-best on the team. Carter, along with teammates Avery Mellman, Alex Gold, and Bradley Vaith, was named a First Team All-CIML player.
Sam Kratz, Newman Catholic: The Knights’ senior finished fourth in the state with 74 strikeouts, and finished with an impressive 0.37 ERA and .130 opponent batting average. Kratz struck out 12 hitters in the state semifinal against Remsen-St. Mary’s, a game the Knights won, 2-0, to secure a spot at the state championship game. For his efforts in the regular season, Kratz was named to the Top of Iowa East First Team.
Alex Gold, Mason City: Gold had a breakout year on the mound for the Mohawks, striking out 50 batters while putting up a WHIP of 1.17 in 41 innings of work. Gold, along with teammates Bradley Vaith and Connor Wiemann, led a Mason City pitching staff that finished the season with a 1.86 ERA and an opponent batting average of .211. The Mohawks rode their strong pitching all the way to the substate final, where the team fell to Waukee, 5-6. For his efforts, Gold was named to the All-CIML First Team. Gold was also a force at the plate for Mason City, with 16 extra base-hits on the year, including four homers.
Casey Hanson, Lake Mills: In 35 innings of work this season, the Bulldogs’ junior dazzled opponents. Hanson allowed just four earned runs on the season, and struck while 57 batters and walking just six.
Opponents hit just .153 against Hanson, who also led the team in ERA at 0.80, and in WHIP, with a mark of 0.91. Hanson was also a threat at the plate for the Bulldogs, hitting .395 with a team-high 12 RBI.
Hanson was named to the Top of Iowa West First Team for his outstanding season in the mound.
Doug Taylor, Newman Catholic: The Knights’ freshman began his season by striking out seven Osage batters in three innings on Opening Day, and only saw his season get better from there.
Taylor finished with a sub-1.00 ERA, at 0.88, along with a WHIP of 0.94, and 49 strikeouts to just 16 walks on the year, and closed out Remsen-St. Mary's to send the Knights back to the championship game. After starting the state title game as a senior last year, Taylor has blossomed into a bona-fide ace in 2020. Taylor was named a member of the Top of Iowa East First Team.
Kellen Cameron, West Fork: The Warhawks' junior was close to un-hittable this season in 28 2/3 innings of work. Opposing batters hit just .060 against Cameron, who compiled a 0.73 ERA and strikeout to walk ratio of 26/3. Cameron allowed just three earned runs on the season, and was named to the Top of Iowa East First Team.
Avery Mellman, Mason City: As a team leader and all-around ballplayer, Avery Mellman proved to one of the area's biggest difference makers.
The Mohawks' Division I-bound shortstop had 23 hits this season, more than half of them for extra-bases. Mellman also drew a team-high 15 walks, and tied for the team lead with four homers. The senior also provided some sparkling defense this season, and received a slew of post-season honors. Mellman was named a Second-Team North Central 4A All-District Player, as well as the All-CIML First Team.
Mellman was also named a member of the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association Large School West Senior All-Star team. Mellman will next season at South Dakota State University.
Shane Lantz covers sports for the Globe Gazette. You can reach him at Shane.Lantz@GlobeGazette.com, or by phone at 641-421-0526. Follow Shane on Twitter @ShaneMLantz.
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