Team effort produces third title for Cyclone Baseball

 DES MOINES -- It’s time for one last tip of the hat to the 2016 Harlan Community baseball team - Class 3-A champions at last week’s state tournament.
 One year after losing to Waverly-Shell Rock, 11-1, in the state title game, this year’s Cyclones charged back to Principal Park and saved their best performance for last. After surviving a few defensive lapses in two-run wins over Bishop Heelan and Solon during the first two rounds, HCHS banged out 13 hits, played solid ‘D’ and got one last gutsy pitching performance from senior Brett Croghan in a relentless 12-4 championship victory over Carlisle.
 Despite entering state with the best record in Class 3-A (27-5), the Cyclones weren’t exactly the favorite to win it all. Dubuque Wahlert was the top seed, Carlisle was a run-scoring machine and Pella and Central DeWitt both boasted stud ace pitchers in Division I recruits Grand Judkins (Iowa) and T.J. Sikkema (Missouri), respectively. Carlisle may have done the Cyclones a huge favor by knocking off both Central DeWitt and Pella on its way to the title game, but those are the breaks that go hand-in-hand with a single-elimination tournament - breaks that have often gone the other way for HCHS in 16 all-time state appearances.
 In the end, it was Harlan Community’s combination of stubborn at-bats, aggressive base running and pitching guile by Croghan and Josh Cheek that earned the program’s third state title (1996, 2003, 2016) under 23rd-year coach Steve Daeges, who has also directed runner-up finishes in 2008, 2011 and 2015. Last week’s championship run won’t soon be forgotten by the Hall of Fame coach or his players.
What a year for Daeges
 The last seven months have been quite a ride for the Cyclone head coach. In January, Daeges was inducted into the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. On July 6, he celebrated his 62nd birthday by logging career win number 600 as HCHS won 4-2 at Dallas Center-Grimes (his record now stands at 609-206). But Saturday’s state title game win over Carlisle trumps it all for the 1972 HCHS graduate.



Harlan Newspapers

1114 7th Street
P.O. Box 721
Harlan, IA 51537-0721

(800) 909-6397

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