Iowa Lakes head baseball coach Jason Nell has announced the signing of 11 quality student-athletes from four different states, including Canada. This is the biggest class ever for the early signing date in the college’s history. The coaching staff feels that this class is one that can get Iowa Lakes closer toward the goal of winning the ICCAC and competing on the national level.
Joe Bernard: 6’3 235 lbs from Milaca, Minn.
“Joe brings middle of the lineup power to the lineup with an exit velocity of 100 mph. He has the ability to hit the ball to all fields with power,” commented assistant coach Rob Varvaro. “We project him as a middle of the lineup guy and to hit for both average and power. He will most likely fit in either at 1st or DH. He should have a phenomenal senior season and we can’t wait to get him on campus.”
Joe hit .387 and .388 during his spring and summer seasons his junior year for Princeton High School.
Joe Fitka: RHP 6’6 200 lbs from Anchorage, Alaska
“Joe is a key part of our recruiting class. We needed frontline pitching due to us losing so many of them this year and he could be an absolute monster here. Joe is mid 80s right now with an outstanding changeup and curveball and a good feel for the strike zone,” stated assistant coach Joey Pavlovich. “In our system, I don’t see why he can’t be at 90 next year. We really enjoyed being around his family and have been in great communication with them, especially with a guy coming from that far away. We are more than excited to see how he progresses once he comes to campus.”
Joe plays for the Alaska Baseball Academy coached by Tony Wylie.
Mitch Ebben: 6’2 165 lbs from Shiocton, Wis.
“Mitch is a guy we are really excited about! He is a difference maker. He projects as a weekend starter next year right away. He sits mid 80s and has been as high as 87 with advanced offspeed and a plus changeup,” said assistant coach Joey Pavlovich. “He has had a ton of success in high school as well, throwing 2 no hitters last season. He comes from an outstanding club team and is a true competitor. He wants the ball and is not going to back down from anyone.”
Mitch went 9-3 with a 1.54 ERA his junior year with 108 strikeouts in 77 1/3 innings along with 2 no hitters.
Zach Meyer: LHP 6’1 170 lbs from Omaha, Neb.
“Zach was our first commitment of the fall back in September. He was honestly one of the top lefties we have seen out this way and he has a tremendous amount of upside. The first thing that jumped out to us was his curveball. It’s already a plus college curveball and he has good command already,” commented pitching coach Joey Pavlovich. “How good he can get is really dependent on how much velocity he can gain over the next few years and how hard he works. The sky is really the limit for him already being low 80s and still growing. He comes from a great family and we can’t wait to see how this year turns out for him being the top lefty at Millard North.”
Zach went 6-5 with a 3.27 ERA in 90 2/3 innings pitched combined during the spring and summer.
Eddy Benitez: MIF 5’7 165 lbs from Maple, Ontario
“Although he is small, he has every tool we look for in a middle infielder. Eddy has great hands, good range, and his best feature is how quick and accurate he is,” stated assistant coach Rob Varvaro. “Offensively he will hit for a high average, handle the bat really well and contribute toward the top of our lineup. Although he is small, he has surprising pop. I am excited to continue our tradition of getting outstanding Canadians.”
Eddy has been part of Team Ontario coached by Jason Booth.
Chase Lindem: 5’11 175 lbs from Sherwood, Wis.
“Chase once again comes from an outstanding club team. He is a strike thrower and we think his offspeed is very developed already,” stated pitching coach Joey Pavlovich. “I think he is another one who can turn into a mid-upper 80s guy with the velocity improvement program. We love Wisconsin kids and he will fit in perfect with our atmosphere.”
Chase went 4-1 with a 2.30 ERA in 52 2/3 innings his junior year along with 36 strikeouts and only 19 walks.
Connor Lamp: OF/1B 6’0 180 lbs from Moville.
“Connor comes from a winning program and contributes in positions we wanted to address immediately with the guys who we are losing next year,” commented assistant coach Rob Varvaro. “What intrigued me the most is what I have heard about his work ethic on and off the field. The fact that he plays multiple sports is intriguing and we look forward to seeing how he progresses through into next season.”
Connor hit .320 with 5 doubles and 30 rbi his junior year.
Grant Stevenson: OF 5’9 160 lbs from Omaha, Neb.
“The first thing that caught our eye with him is his speed. A guy who can run a legit 6.7 will really help us defensively by tracking balls down in the outfield and offensively it is THE x-factor in baseball,” stated assistant coach Rob Varvaro. “His ability to control the bat and steal bases will contribute to our success offensively. Really excited with the Millard guys we got.”
Mark Bowen: RHP 6’6 210 lbs from Burlington, Ontario
“Bowen has projectability through the roof!! At the moment, he is low to mid 80s but I see a lot more in the future. Another thing that jumped out at us was a very workable curveball and good command around the zone,” said assistant coach Joey Pavlovich. “I immediately was excited when I got to see him pitch because I know he is in a phenomenal organization and he will come to us even more developed and throwing even harder. In the future, I see him as an upper 80s guy with a real shot for huge things.”
Mark has been part of the Fieldhouse Pirates coached by Matt Baird.
Mason Gibson: 5’9 185 lbs from Madrid.
“Mason is the top pitcher at his high school and we love getting guys like that with big game experience. He will greatly benefit from our velocity improvement program,” stated assistant coach Joey Pavlovich. “I can see him being a low 80s guy immediately who throws strikes with the ability to be a big asset to us in a number of ways in the future. Getting another local Iowa kid is also a huge bonus!”
Mason went 5-2 with a 3.52 ERA in 47 2/3 innings pitched during his junior season along with 59 strikeouts.
Sam Plohasz: 6’0 155 lbs from Andover, Minn.
“Sam does everything a coach could ask for on the field. He controls the bat very well and brings another left-handed bat to our lineup. One thing that stuck out is he can play a variety of positions, which is something we were really looking for,” said assistant coach Rob Varvaro. “We project him to fit in as a utility guy in many aspects for us next season. He is a phenomenal kid and hard worker.”
Sam hit .389 last season with 2 doubles and 5 stolen bases for Andover High School as a junior.
The Iowa Lakes baseball team opens up their season on March 13 in Vero Beach, Florida.
UNI T&F Set To Host Jack Jennett Invitational, Team Invitational
The University of Northern Iowa track and field program is set to host a pair of meets inside the UNI-Dome this weekend, starting with the Jack Jennett Open Invitational on Friday, Jan. 30. The Panthers will then turnaround to host the Jack Jennett Team Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 31.
The Iowa Lakes Men’s Basketball moved to 10-9 on the season with a 72-56 win over Briar Cliff’s JV.
The Lakers were led by Blake Wilder with 18 points.
Briar Cliff was led by Josh Belling with 11.
The Lakers will travel to Iowa Falls on Wednesday to play Ellsworth tip will be at 7:30pm. Their next home game will be this Saturday vs. 14th Ranked Southwestern Community College tip will be at 3 pm.
Blake Wilder sets a screen for Lucas Smith in action Monday night at Iowa Lakes
Central 12th in preseason softball poll
PELLA - Coming off its 26th NCAA tourney appearance in 29 years, Central College is No. 12 in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association's Division III Top 25 softball poll.