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State Wednesday Class 4A-3 13

North Scott senior Tony Barreca connects with a pitch for one of his two hits against Western Dubuque in a Class 4A state quarterfinal on July 25. 

North Scott's Tony Barreca

Love for catching: Tony Barreca started catching at 12 years old. Playing for the North Scott Nitro youth team, he threw a runner out trying to steal. He has been hooked since.

"There is nothing like it," he said. "Anywhere else on the field, you might not get a ball hit to you the entire game. With catching, you can't take a play off. It keeps me engaged, keeps me thinking."

Barreca spent his sophomore season in the outfield, but has been the Lancers backstop the past two seasons.

Catching is his passion. Even if it comes with plenty of aches and pains.

"We call the catching gear tools of ignorance," he said. "We're getting hurt a lot behind the plate. If you don't walk away from the field with a bruise or two each night, you're probably not blocking the ball correctly."

Barreca had a foul tip hit the ground and drill him in the leg this season against Cedar Rapids Washington. "It brought me to my knees," he said.

"I had a solid 6- to 7-inch bruise on my leg," Barreca stated. "Those don't go away for a while."

Still, Barreca enjoys having control of the game and having all the fielders in front of him. 

"The rush is throwing somebody out, but calling the game and thinking several steps ahead and how to get specific hitters out is a lot of fun," he said. 

Leaving a legacy: The three-year starter finished as the school's career leader in hits (163), runs (122) and third in average (.417). He batted .469 this summer and was named first team all-Mississippi Athletic Conference, first team all-district and first team all-state by the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

He said former North Scott great Colin Kreiter was his motivation and seeing his name on the record boards.

"You'd see his name on the board every day when you walk in and you're like, 'I'd really like to move his name down a spot,'" Barreca said. "I saw how hard he worked, so I knew it meant something to break those records. I hope somebody breaks my records because that means somebody has done something great for three-plus seasons."

On deck: Barreca will continue his baseball career in the Big East this fall at Georgetown in Washington, D.C. His goal is to compete for a spot immediately.

"Everything becomes a lot harder now," he admitted. "In the weight room, at practice, there is no time to lollygag. Your best effort might not be enough sometimes. The weight room is going to be very important for me."

It'll be a lifestyle adjustment, too, going from Eldridge to a large metropolitan city. He'll have to get accustomed to public transportation and airports.

"It is going to be very different," he said. "Obviously, there are a lot more things to do, but there are dangers that come with that as well. I need to make sure I stay smart, stay vigilant and be ready for anything."

Barreca plans to major in psychology or law.  

— 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.