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Shortstop Devin Hurdle will be the spark plug once again for Central DeWitt's offense this summer. Hurdle batted .401 last summer for the 29-win Sabers. 

Five teams to watch

Calamus-Wheatland: Coming off a 20-win season, the Warriors return five players who earned Tri-Rivers Conference accolades in Brant Boeckmann, Max Hansen, Tyler Rowold, Caleb Banowetz and Hunter Rickels. Cal-Wheat has its top six pitchers back from a staff which compiled a 2.43 ERA. Coach Michael Bruns' team has scored 32 runs and capitalized on 27 walks in its 3-0 start.

Camanche: The Indians made it to the Class 2A district final before losing to Dyersville Beckman last summer. Camanche has to replace its top pitchers in Jake Drury and PJ Puckett, but sophomores Brayden Lodge and Cade Everson teamed for a 7-3 record last year. Mason Byrns batted .346 with a team-high 10 doubles, 3 homers and 20 RBIs in his freshman season. 

Central DeWitt: Ranked second in Class 3A following a 29-win campaign, Central DeWitt has a very strong nucleus of upperclassmen. Lucas Bixby, Garrett Finley, Alex McAleer and Luke Anderson are all back after accounting for 25 wins and 159 strikeouts on the mound. Coach Shane Sikkema said manufacturing runs will be pivotal for a team with limited power. 

Midland: Josh Soper is back coaching at Midland after spending the past seven years at Monticello. Juniors Jensen Dodge and Alex Smith are expected to lead Soper's pitching staff. They combined for 25 strikeouts in 12 innings of Monday's doubleheader sweep over Edgewood-Colesburg. The Eagles lack power hitters but have good speed with Brit Martens and Wilson Buckwalter. 

Wilton: No team in Class 2A had a better ERA (1.33) than the Beavers last summer, and they return their top two pitchers in Iowa recruit Jared Townsend and Collin McCrabb. Wilton was 26-6 and reached the state semifinals. Ranked No. 1 in 2A to start the year, can coach Jake Souhrada's team improve its offensive production? Wilton was held below five runs on 13 occasions. 

Five individuals to watch

Karson Cantrell, sr., Louisa-Muscatine: Headed to play baseball at Mount Mercy, the Falcons' catcher is coming off a junior season in which he hit .418 with 31 walks and a .630 on-base percentage.

Kannon Coakley, so., Maquoketa: The shortstop was second on the team in hitting as a freshman and had a respectable 3.53 ERA in 33-plus innings. He'll bat third in the Cardinals' lineup. 

Trey Daugherty, sr., Bellevue: The Comets mustered only five wins last season, but Daugherty gives them athleticism at the top of the lineup. He had three stolen bases and four RBIs in the season opener. 

Devin Hurdle, sr., Central DeWitt: The shortstop serves as the team's leadoff hitter. He batted a team-high .401 with 49 runs, 23 walks, 24 RBIs and 26 stolen bases last summer.  

Collin McCrabb, sr., Wilton: The second team all-stater is a two-way threat for the Beavers. He was 7-1 on the mound with a 0.84 ERA while batting .382 with 11 doubles, 4 homers and 34 RBIs for a state semifinal squad. 

— Compiled by Matt Coss

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Sports Editor

Prep sports editor, with emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 17 years, the last five at the Quad-City Times.