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Watching programs grow in the summer

Rainouts are always a nuisance during baseball and softball season. Then it is a real scramble when faced with the already shortened season facing Iowa high school teams this summer.

For area teams, we had rainouts last Friday and on Monday. Newton has played Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week with a makeup on Thursday. The Cardinal softball team is getting its makeup of last Friday’s game against Grinnell on Saturday.

There were a few empty spaces along the schedule for area teams. A lot of Monday’s rainouts were pushed to Wednesday or Thursday of this week. There are thunderstorms in the forecast for Friday when all five — Newton, Prairie City-Monroe, Baxter, Lynnville-Sully and Colfax-Mingo — have baseball and softball games on the slate.

Two weeks of regular season play is all that is left in the 2020 baseball and softball seasons for high schools. Team not only have to stay healthy from just summer ball injuries but also the coronavirus. Game day responsibilities which include taking players temperatures and asking health questions are more involved for the coaches as they deal with COVID-19 precautions.

Postseason competition for baseball teams begin on July 9 and the state tournament is July 24-Aug. 1 at Principal Park in Des Moines. Softball postseason begins with regionals on July 13 and the state tournament in July 27-31 in Fort Dodge’s Harlan Rogers Park.

It is tough on a community newspaper’s sports staff when two of the local teams are battling in athletic competition. We want all of our area athletes to excel and reach the high goals they’ve set for themselves and their teams.

On Tuesday night, I was in Sully covering a Jasper County showdown of sorts as Lynnville-Sully hosted PCM in a non-conference softball game. Both teams are young with the Mustangs have just one senior on their team while the Hawks have three seniors.

Lynnville-Sully, which is ranked No. 6 in Class 1A, has a team of juniors and sophomores with a lot of varsity experience. PCM is looking to build on sophomores and freshmen. The Mustangs have no juniors on the team and a smattering of eighth graders.

For me, I go along on the roller coaster ride with the area teams. It has been happening since I began my sports journalist career in 1979. It doesn’t matter what newspaper — in Kansas or now in Iowa — I’m working for and it doesn’t matter if the teams are ranked or not. It’s in my DNA to roll with the area athletes.

So, you can imagine what Tuesday was like for me. I don’t think any fans could tell because I stay pretty calm on the outside, but inside I was going back and forth just like the Hawks and Mustangs were on the field.

I’ve covered Lynnville-Sully at state tournaments, including the Hawks trip to the 1A 2019 tournament. One of my first ever postseason softball games in Iowa was in 2013 at PCM.

These two teams will be really good next year and even the next. It will be fun to follow both the Hawks and Mustangs.

The Iowa Girls Coaches Association announced this week that there will be no All-District teams for 2020. It has to do with the short time frame and limited number of games.

The IGCA is committed, however, to offer All-State honors for athletes this year. Historically this has been a process that starts with All-District. So, in order to ensure it can select the best athletes in the state for our All-State teams, it will use a two part process.

Step one will be to nominate athletes from your school by July 12. The IGCA is asking coaches to nominate athletes from their team who are worthy of consideration for All-State selection.

Step two will involve voting by coaches from throughout the state. Due to the irregularity of competition, all coaches can vote for all athletes, regardless of class. This voting will begin after nominations conclude around July 13 and will conclude within 7-10 days.

Contact Jocelyn Sheets at

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