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North Scott's Graysen Drezek fires a pitch during a game last season. Drezek returns after going 6-0 on the mound last summer for the Lancers.

Assumption

Coach: Greg Thissen, 1st season 

2018: 34-10, 13-5 MAC (T2nd); 3A state champs

Impact players: Nick Gottilla, sr., P/OF (6-1, 1.04 ERA, 47 IP, 91 Ks; .307 avg., 28 RBI); Julien Broderson, sr., P (8-0, 1.03 ERA, 54 1/3 IP, 61 Ks); Brandon Schlichting, sr., P/OF (6-1, 1.98 ERA; .286 avg., 10 SB); Seth Adrian, jr., IF/C (.381 avg., 8 2B, 3 HR, 24 RBI)

Fresh faces: Nate Schlichting, jr., OF; Tylen Gillette, jr., C; Tyler Kulhanek, jr., IF

Skinny: Assumption, off back-to-back 3A state titles, has a new leader in the dugout. Thissen was elevated to head coach after Billy Argo, who led the Knights to six state championships and 540 wins in 18 years, decided to step down. The preseason MAC favorites return four pitchers who won at least six games. Offense is the biggest uncertainty as Assumption graduated four starters who batted at least .278. 

Bettendorf

Coach: Brandon Nau, 2nd season (13-24)

2018: 13-24, 6-12 (T8th)

Impact players: Trevor Feller, sr., SS (.360 avg., 10 SB); Noah Abbott, jr., 1B (.238 avg., 4 2Bs); Carter Furness, so., 2B/P (.250 avg., 8 RBI); Tavian Goerdt, sr., 3B/P (.254 avg., 10 RBI)

Fresh faces: Ashton Westphall, fr., P/IF; Maysen Clark, jr., 3B/P; Adam Like, jr., 3B/1B

Skinny: The Bulldogs lack varsity experience, but they have pitching depth and strike throwers in their rotation. Westphall, named MVP in the Perfect Game spring league, started the season opener against Dubuque Wahlert. The offense has to take a quantum leap for Bettendorf to improve its win total. With all-MAC performer Carter Bell not coming out, Feller is the only player returning who hit better than .260 last summer.

Burlington

Coach: Brock Schneden, 8th season (111-136-1)

2018: 16-19, 8-10 (T6th)

Impact players: Mason Fort, jr., IF/P (4-1, 3.42 ERA, 43 IP, 36 Ks); Drake Parks, sr., IF (.276 avg., 13 RBI); Reece Wissinger, sr., UT (.290 avg.)

Fresh faces: Brock Dengler, fr., OF/P; Jacob Zahner, fr., OF/P; Tyson Powers, jr., IF/P

Skinny: The Grayhounds will field a young squad in their final year of competing in the MAC. Schneden said three freshmen and one sophomore could see significant playing time. Burlington graduated its top four run producers. With minimal power, the Grayhounds will have to manufacture runs. Schneden said his pitching staff isn't overpowering but can control the strike zone and challenge hitters.

Clinton

Coach: Kevin Cunningham, 8th season (131-119)

2018: 13-20, 6-12 (T8th)

Impact players: Matt Swamberger, sr., C (.293 avg., 4 2B, 15 RBI); Dante Brunson, sr., 2B (.280 avg., 9 extra-base hits, 15 RBI); Parker Mangelsen, sr., P/1B (3-4, 2.76 ERA, 50 2/3 IP, 34 Ks); Aiden Lubs, sr., P (1-1, 2.53 ERA)

Fresh faces: Zach Hoffman, jr., P; Jasper Luckritz, jr., C/P

Skinny: The River Kings have 13 seniors on their roster, including three pitchers who logged at least 19 innings last year in Mangelsen, Bret Myli and Lubs. Cunningham said starting pitching and chemistry are strengths, along with the addition of some team speed. Clinton averaged about four runs a game in league play. Run production, in particular timely hitting, has to improve for River Kings to move up in the standings.

Davenport Central

Coach: Chris Cartee, 3rd season (40-29)

2018: 25-10, 13-5 (T2nd)

Impact players: Will Kranz, sr., SS/P (.347 avg., 23 RBI, 18 SB; 5-2, 5 saves); Adin DeLaRosa, sr., 2B (.324 avg., 7 2B, 18 RBI); Nick Fleming, sr., C (.337 avg., 21 RBI); Josh Hann, sr., OF (.326 avg., 18 RBI)

Fresh faces: Mason Gersdorf, jr., IF/P; Ever Jens, jr., OF/P; Will Fleming, sr., UT

Skinny: Central has arguably the most experienced team in the MAC with 14 seniors and six juniors. Seven of those seniors earned all-MAC or all-district accolades last year. The Blue Devils struck out fewer times than any other team in the MAC in 2018 and have one of the league's best middle infields with DeLaRosa and Kranz. Cartee doesn't have an overpowering ace, so the pitching staff will need to keep teams off balance.

Davenport North

Coach: Cory Wachal, 15th season (204-292)

2018: 17-17, 9-9 (T4th)

Impact players: Bryan Verdon, sr., P/OF (.270 avg., 5 2B, 14 RBI); Jack West, jr., OF (.323 avg., 22 runs, 14 RBI, 9 SB); Nate Williams, sr., P/3B (4-4, 3.00 ERA, 46 2/3 IP); Blake Stoughton, sr., P/UT (3-2, 3.44 ERA)

Fresh faces: Griffin Leibold, jr., P; Blake Gaskey, so., P/IF; Trevor Collins, jr., OF

Skinny: North returns six of its top eight pitchers from last season, including Williams, Stoughton and Verdon who combined for more than half of the team's starts. Can the Wildcats elevate their performance offensively? They were seventh in MAC in runs (4.7 per game) and ninth in average (.257). Verdon is the only player returning who recorded more than five extra-base hits last year.

Davenport West

Coach: Scott Beatty, 4th season (64-45)

2018: 19-15, 8-10 (T6th)

Impact players: Ryan McKown, jr., 1B/C/P (.260 avg., 22 runs, 8 2B); Izaiah Schaeffer-Houston, jr., OF (.310 avg., 5 2B, 14 HBP); Logan Gluba, sr., OF (.364 avg.); Jared Black, sr., SS/P (.250 avg.)

Fresh faces: Dom DeLaPaz, so., C; Alek Reed, sr., P; Kyle Burton, jr., OF

Skinny: West graduated a strong senior class with six starters, including all-state infielder and leadoff hitter Trevor Burkhart and pitcher Clayton Nettleton. Beatty said the roster features good speed and athleticism, players equipped to play multiple positions. The Falcons need several pitchers to emerge to replace the 112-plus innings and 153 strikeouts from Nettleton and Kyle Oberbroeckling.

Muscatine

Coach: Grant Pippert, 1st season

2018: 6-23, 4-14 (10th)

Impact players: Vincent Benevente, sr., UT/P (.323 avg.); Drew Logel, sr., P/IF (.264 avg., 7 2B, 14 RBI, 2-4, 3.61 ERA); Joey Martinez, sr., UT/P (.200 avg., 8 SB)

Fresh faces: Tom LoBianco, sr., 1B/C; Diego Rangel, so., C; Dawson Toborg, so., IF/P; Brigg Burback, jr., OF/P

Skinny: Pippert, who played at Benton Community and recently coached in Colorado, was approved as Muscatine's new coach in early April. He has plenty of work to do as the Muskies were last in the MAC in about every statistical category (average, runs, extra-base hits and ERA) last summer. Pippert said the players have done a good job of buying into a new system. Muscatine has nine seniors on its roster.

North Scott

Coaches: Travis Ralfs and Brad Ward, 2nd season, 28-11

2018: 28-11, 14-4 (1st)

Impact players: Chase Moseley, sr., OF (.355 avg., 14 2B, 32 RBI, 20 SB); Graysen Drezek, jr., P/3B (6-0, 1.65 ERA, 55 IP, 66 Ks); Jake Matthaidess, jr., P/OF (6-5, 2.54 ERA, 41 IP, 48 Ks, .347 avg., 31 RBI)

Fresh faces: Carter Wenck, jr., P/OF; Jackson Stoefen, jr., P; Griffin Wilder, jr., C

Skinny: North Scott returns three starters, including two proven pitchers, from last year's MAC championship and state quarterfinal team. The key will be filling the pieces in around Drezek, Moseley and Matthaidess. The Lancers have a new starter behind the plate along with new faces at the middle infield positions. Stoefen, a Kansas football recruit, is expected to shoulder more innings on the mound.

Pleasant Valley

Coach: Derek Stecklein, 1st season

2018: 20-21, 9-9 (T4th)

Impact players: Max Slavens, sr., SS (.240 avg., 7 2B, 5 3B, 24 RBI); Peyton Lindmark, sr., UT (.303 avg., 20 RBI, 25 walks, 3-2, 1.95 ERA); Jack Young, jr., 2B/P (.342 avg., 22 RBI; 4-0, 4.06 ERA); Carter Hoskins, sr., OF (.291 avg., 5 2B, 2 HR, 34 RBI)

Fresh faces: Seth Clausen, so., UT; Eric Clifton, sr., C; Jose Lara, jr., OF

Skinny: PV graduated its leading run producer and top three arms in terms of innings pitched, but Stecklein has plenty to work with in his first season. Slavens, a Western Illinois signee, anchors the middle of the infield. The Spartans also bring back starters in the outfield and across the infield. Pitching will be the primary question, Stecklein said. Young struck out 10 in 5 1/3 innings in a season-opening win over Dubuque Senior.

— 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.