DES MOINES — When there is only eight teams remaining, they are all going to be quite a challenge.
The Class 2A state baseball tournament for 2020 has perennial powerhouse programs, which include last year’s champion in Van Meter, a new guy with some first-time-in-a-long-time teams. There are two teams from the same conference.
The games start Monday with the semifinals Thursday and the title game Saturday.
Top-ranked Van Meter and North Linn are both making their fourth-straight trip. Treynor is back for the third time in four years, and Des Moines Christian is back for the second-straight year. Mid-Prairie is back for the first time since 2007. There’s West Lyon advancing to state for the seventh time in school history — but the first time since 1996. There’s Dike-New Hartford reaching the state tournament for the first time.
There’s Durant at state for just the fourth time in school history — but for the first time since 2003. Mid-Prairie defeated fellow River Valley Conference team Durant 5-4 earlier this season.
The mix of established programs and relative newbies will make the 2A tournament all the more fun.
Perhaps Mid-Prairie and Durant could meet in an RVC final.
Perhaps Van Meter and North Linn will meet in the finals again if the seeds hold out.
Or perhaps another team will crash the party.
The seedings are what Mid-Prairie coach Andy Greiner expected.
“The top four were obvious,” he said. “But it is a crapshoot.”
The fourth seed was slotted to Mid-Prairie with a record of 15-3, which will play fifth seed West Lyon (14-3) at 1:30 p.m. Monday. The winner gets either top-seed Van Meter (20-2) or eight seed Treynor. (12-7).
The bottom bracket has North Linn (18-2) against Durant (13-4) and Dike-New Hartford against Des Moines Christian (15-6).
“We have had good luck being a four seed,” Greiner said. “I am pretty happy with our road to a title.”
Greiner is in his sixth season as the head coach but was an assistant previously.
“I have a good feel for how I want things done from our past successes,” Greiner said. “I think my experiences are going to benefit us in Des Moines.”
The Golden Hawks’ coaches had decided they would take a day off practice if they won the game. Rain had pushed game day from Tuesday to Wednesday but the Hawks earned Thursday off.
“The rain gave us an extra day of stress,” Greiner said. “But it all worked out.”
The 9-7 win over Central Lee to get to the tournament reinforced some things Greiner knows about his team.
“We want to win games with our offense while using our defense to keep them from scoring too many runs,” he said. “We think we can advance through this tournament with our offense.”
The first opponent at state, West Lyon, has a team ERA of 2.04 and batting average is .343.
A possible semifinal has Van Meter’s 1.59 ERA and .339 batting average.