No matter whether it was at the plate, behind the plate or firing to the plate, Central DeWitt senior Garrett Finley made an impact this summer.
And the rest of the state took notice.
Finley was named the captain of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association 3A all-state team, while also being named the first-team catcher.
A pair of Finley’s battery-mates join him on the all-state team.
Senior Lucas Bixby earned all-state recognition for a second straight season and was tabbed as one of three first-team pitchers.
Junior Alex McAleer, meanwhile, earned his own pitching spot on the second team.
The same trio was also honored with first-team all-district spots on the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association All-3A Southeast District team.
Bixby was one of three pitchers on the first team, while Finley was named one of two catchers and McAleer one of three utility players.
Senior Devin Hurdle, meanwhile, earned his own first-team honor as the Southeast District’s shortstop, and junior Luke Anderson garnered one of three outfield spots on the second team.
All five of the Sabers’ all-district honorees earned first-team spots on the All-WaMaC East team.
Finley led the way, earning Player of the Year honors and joining Bixby, Hurdle and McAleer as unanimous selections to the first team.
Anderson was also a first-team selection, while senior Jake Swanson landed on the second team and juniors Nolan Haack and Tucker Kinney picked up honorable mention accolades.
No player in Class 3A came up with more hits than Finley, who finished with 67 of them, while batting .493 — good for third in the class.
A team-high 15 of Finley’s hits were doubles and the senior slugged three home runs.
The large collection of hits allowed Finley to drive in 53 runs — second-most in 3A.
Finley, who walked 25 times, also scored 17 runs.
Behind the plate, Finley worked with a Sabers pitching staff that posted a 2.09 team ERA and 300 strikeouts.
Finley, himself, had a hand in those numbers, appearing in 12 games on the mound and going 6-0, including the Sabers’ 3-2 substate victory over Dubuque Wahlert.
The senior struck out 19 battters, while posting a 1.96 ERA.
The Sabers’ leader in innings pitched was Bixby, who finished third in Class 3A with over 73 innings on the mound.
Bixby went 8-1 in his senior campaign with the lone loss coming in the state finals. He was second on the team with a 1.05 ERA and led the Sabers with 80 strikeouts, while limiting opponents to a .199 batting average.
At the plate, Bixby batted .311 with 42 hits, including eight doubles, a triple and a home run in the Sabers’ postseason victory over Anamosa.
The senior scored 25 runs, drove in 22 and was one of the team’s most patient batters, drawing 23 walks.
Teaming with Bixby to give Central one of the state’s best pitching duos was McAleer.
In a little over 61 innings of work, McAleer (8-0) allowed just seven earned runs, resulting in a 0.79 ERA.
The tall junior struck out 78 batters and walked just 12, while holding batters to a .141 batting average.
McAleer, who also played center field, finished third on the team with 46 hits (he batted .303), including 12 doubles, a triple and a home run.
The Saber drove in 27 runs and used his speed — he was second on the team with 25 stolen bases — to finish with 41 runs.
The catalyst for the Sabers offense was Hurdle, who had another fantastic season as the team’s leadoff hitter.
The senior piled up 47 hits and showed off his power with 14 doubles, a team-high three triples and a home run. He drove in 25 runs.
Patient at the plate as well, Hurdle tied for fifth in 3A with 31 walks.
Once on base, Hurdle remained a headache to opposing pitchers, ranking fourth in Class 3A with 30 stolen bases and pacing the Sabers with 55 runs — the second-highest total in the class.
Hurdle complemented his strong play at the plate with outstanding defense that saw him finish sixth in Class 3A with 90 defensive assists.
Only a late wrist injury could slow down a big junior season for Anderson.
Despite missing the Sabers’ final 16 games, the right fielder still finished third on the team with 29 RBIs.
Anderson boasted plenty of power, as over half of his 26 hits this summer went for extra bases — six doubles, one triple and a team-high seven home runswhich were good for a tie for fifth in 3A.
Along with his strength at the plate — he batted .321 — the Sabers also missed Anderson’s arm as the junior went 6-0 on the mound with a 1.70 ERA and 46 strikeouts.
Back for his senior season at first base, Swanson improved his offensive numbers across the board.
The senior finished third on the team with a .350 average and pounded out 43 hits — 14 more than his junior campaign — with 11 doubles and three home runs.
Swanson drove in 35 runs — second only to Finley — and scored 23 more himself.
The senior also won a pair of games on the mound, while recording a 2.57 ERA and averaging more than a strikeout per inning.
Haack finished just behind Swanson with his own .347 batting average that included 35 hits, eight doubles and a triple.
Another threat on the base paths, Haack stole 18 bases and finished third on the team with 31 runs.
Kinney bounced back from his own injury in the middle of the season to give the Sabers’ offense and pitching a lift.
The versatile junior started games at third base, second base, left field, right field, pitcher and catcher and finished second only to Finley with a .355 batting average.
Kinney piled up 38 hits with nine doubles, a triple and three home runs, helping him drive in 19 runs and score 17 more.
The junior won a pair of games on the mound, while striking out 12 batters.