Van Meter baseball, softball teams look to continue building on early season success

Megan Teske
Special to Dallas County News

The summer sports of baseball and softball are in full swing for Van Meter, and both teams have started out strong.

The baseball team boasts an 8-1 record on the season so far, while softball is sitting strong at 10-4.

While the baseball team had the official season start in May, head coach Eben Baumhover said the pitchers and catchers started practicing in March.

Baumhover added that the team expected to compete from the beginning, even as they had to replace the infield, a catcher and some pitchers from last year's state-title winning team.

More:Champs once more, Van Meter baseball sits atop the Class 2A world

“We had a lot of question marks from the beginning, knowing that we lost as many senior starters as we did from last season, but I expected these guys to come in and compete and play and that’s kind of what we’ve done so far,” Baumhover said.

The softball team also had some changes to the lineup and with shortened season last year, head coach James Flaws wasn’t sure where the team would be offensively.

Van Meter started off stronger offensively than Flaws expected and the pitching has been solid as well, though he said there is still more to be done.

“We’ve had a good start but we can keep building and get better in all three phases of the game,” Flaws said. “Defensively we gotta get stronger, offensively we can still get better and then pitching-wise I don’t think we’re fully at our best yet.”

Van Meter's Jacob Blomgren at the plate for the Bulldogs in 2020.

Baumhover is also looking to continue the winning ways of the Bulldogs and plans to take it one game at a time.

To keep the momentum going, Baumhover said he is going to play the guys that are hot and when they cool off, hopefully other players will be ready to step up and produce.

The hard part of the season isn’t keeping the momentum going for the team, he added, but the slew of games the baseball team has each week.

“The grind of being able to show up every day ready to play, our practices get a little bit more sparse and nonexistent as the season progresses,” Baumhover said.

Although the amount of games can be a lot, the softball team still brings the energy each day.

Van Meter softball players meet on the pitcher's mound during a tournament on Saturday, June 5 in Perry.

Flaws said the softball team is a fun team to be around as everyone enjoys each other’s company, and they always show up to work and get better each day.

As the Bulldogs continue to get better each day, Flaws hopes that will bring them to accomplish their ultimate goal, which is to be at their best in the final games of the season.

“That’s the three games or four games to go to state,” Flaws said. “... So to be best at that time and have our best offense and defense and pitchers playing at that point.”

The softball team will have some tough competition to help prepare the Bulldogs for that.

Flaws said the team plays everyone twice, so it will have a chance to defeat some teams who beat them already. Van Meter will also be playing in some weekend tournaments, where Flaws said the Bulldogs will see some more top competition.

Van Meter junior pitcher Zach Pleggenkuhle delivers a pitch against West Lyon during the Iowa high school baseball tournament at Principal Park in Des Moines on Wednesday, July 30, 2020.

Baumhover said the Bulldogs play some tough 3A teams as well as other teams both in their conference and outside of it.

“It doesn’t get easier from here, that’s for sure,” Baumhover said. “And that’s kinda the way we like it so that we can be at our best at the end of the season when you need to be at your best.”

Both teams will take on West Central Valley in a doubleheader June 10 at West Central Valley High School, with baseball starting at 5 p.m. and softball beginning at 5:30 p.m.