PREVIEW: Six starters return for Wildcats

The Maquoketa Valley varsity baseball team, first row from left: Brock Hillers, Jon Seibert, Trent Koopmann, Parker Sternhagen, Andrew Holtz, Sean Hucker, Blake Becker and Matthew Hucker. Second row: assistant coach Dan Cassutt, Evan Hoefer, Norman Wilson, Tyson Tucker, Heath Gibbs, Cole Willenbring, Michael Feldmann, Trevor Elgin and head coach Eric Conner. (Photo by Pete Temple)

     It’s a mixed bag for the Maquoketa Valley High School baseball team this season.

     The Wildcats lost five talented seniors who graduated last year, but return six of their nine starters.

     “My main concern for this team is filling the shoes of the seniors that we lost,” second-year coach Eric Conner said. “But our guys have been working hard in the offseason to get better. I am excited to see our hard work pay off this season.”

     The list of returners is led by senior Tyson Tucker, a pitcher, catcher and infielder who made the Iowa Newspaper Association All-State third team last year, in addition to being a first team all-district and all-conference pitcher. Tucker went 4-3 for the 18-14 Wildcats, but had an earned run average of 1.31 and 86 strikeouts in 53 1/3 innings. He also batted .337 with a team-leading 10 doubles and 22 runs batted in.

     Trevor Elgin, a senior pitcher, was second team all-conference and second team all-district after posting a 5-1 record with a 2.00 ERA.

     Other starters returning are seniors Brock Hillers, Cole Willenbring and Heath Gibbs; and junior Norman Wilson, who led the team with a .402 batting average a year ago.

     In all there are 10 returning letter-winners, a list that also includes senior Sean Hucker, juniors Blake Becker and Jon Seibert, and freshman Parker Sternhagen.

     Maquoketa Valley hopes to be a factor in the Tri-Rivers Conference race, along with North Linn, Lisbon, Calamus-Wheatland and Alburnett.

     “We have to be ready to go each game that we play in order for this to happen,” Conner said.

     He is assisted by Dan Cassutt.



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