Three Warrior baseball stars earn All-District honors

Andrew Brown - Sports Reporter

Even though the season has concluded and the chapter of Iowa high school baseball has closed on the 2020 season, the awards and accolades have just gotten started.

With the recent release of the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association All-District lists, the Waukee High School baseball team is receiving some of their first honors for the season. The Warriors resided within a tough North Central District and ended up having three of their own earn All-District honors. Two were of the first-team variety as senior Jalen Martinez and junior Jackson Wentworth took the honors while the second-team selection for Waukee belonged to future University of Iowa star Jackson Payne. Offensively, those three have been a big boost for Waukee, accounting for over 27 percent of their hit total, over 27 percent of their RBI count (29 RBI), and 21 percent of their extra-base hit production for the 2020 campaign. These versatile athletes had just as much potency if not more on the mound. There, the trio combined for 98 total strikeouts which equaled out to 42 percent of Waukee’s overall strikeout count (231).

First Team:

A worthy individual to earn a first team spot, Jalen Martinez, despite injury, made his presence felt in 2020. The senior ranked fifth among Class 4A Substate 2 hitters with 26 total hits on the campaign, complete with a. 426 batting average. Among his 13 runs driven in on the season, Martinez used the long ball for a few of them, tied for fourth in the substate field with three home runs on the year. Martinez displayed strong sense of patience at the plate, adding eleven walks to increase his substate fourth-best on-base mark of .527. The now former Warrior is taking his talents to Iowa Central next fall.

“Jalen is a good hitter and really knows how to work the count and just make pitchers work overall,” said Waukee head baseball coach David Dirkx earlier in the season. “He is just a good hitter all around but an even better teammate.”

Joining Martinez on the first-team list is Jackson Wentworth. Not surprising here because Wentworth, a Kansas State commit, has been clocked in the mid-to upper 90’s at times with his fastball velocity. His 34 strikeouts on the season rank fifth-best in the Substate 2 field. Holding opponents to a mere .198 batting average all season, Wentworth did what he could and more through just 24 innings pitched on the year. Wentworth was also a dual threat as his offense turned heads as well. The junior poked across 22 hits on the season resulting in 15 runs driven in on the year. Wentworth also showcased his patience quite often and it showed with 15 walks on the season, tied for third-most in the Substate 2 field behind only teammate Aiden McGee and Valley’s Nick Buttolph who tied with 16 free passes on the year.

“Jackson is a good overall athlete,” said Dirkx earlier in the season. “He can hit the ball well and pitch the ball well and he can do both very consistently. I’ll go to battle with him on the mound and at the plate any day.”

Second Team:

Waukee’s lone second-team representative was senior Jackson Payne. Before departing for the University of Iowa, Payne made himself known on the high school diamond pretty well. The majority of his fame has come on the mound. That’s where the senior tossed a Class 4A third-best 64 strikeouts on the season, including seven within Waukee’s state tournament appearance. Few in the state could match or better Payne’s ERA mark of 0.98 which ranked first in Substate 2 among pitchers with at least five starts or more. Teams just couldn’t find much on Payne as was evident by opposing bats hitting just .138 against him all season long.

“Payne is a pure strike thrower, that’s just what he does,” began Dirkx. “He’s able to locate his pitches pretty well and he can throw strikes which will give your team a chance to win against any opponent.”

Those three stars among many helped lead Waukee baseball to its tenth state tournament appearance in school history.