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Sunday, July 22, 2018
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Metro Sports Report

Copeland prepares for Notre Dame

Ethan Copeland playing college baseball for Notre Dame is about to become a reality.

The thought of Copeland playing college baseball at any level seemed remote two years ago after a varsity career at Cedar Rapids Prairie.

A solid performer for the Hawks, Copeland was an infielder who helped Coach Todd Rima's team to a 38-6 finish and Class 4A state championship in 2016. The desire to continue playing was there for Copeland. However, the were few offers.

"I wasn't recruited out of high school very much at all," he said. "I had no athletic scholarships offered to me at any point during high school."

Now, two years later, Copeland is playing in the Iowa Valley League, keeping his skills sharp as he prepares to enter Notre Dame in the fall as a junior.

Copeland's original plan had him joining the program at Quincy University in Illinois as a walk-on.

"I wasn't super-happy with the coaching staff and the amount of attention and support they gave me," he said. "I also was probably going to have to red-shirt my first year and I wasn't too excited about that either."

Then, near the end of his senior season at Prairie, he got a call that would change his career path.

"My old USSSA coach, Brian Furlong, told me that he got the head coaching job at Heartland (Community College) in Illinois and wanted me to go with him," Copeland said. "He knew I was signed but just wanted to run the idea by me. I told him about my issues and concerns with Quincy and how they were handling me.

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Stars cling to top spot in IVL

The Stars surprised a few folks in the Iowa Valley League last season  by winning the regular-season title and capturing the IABA state crown  a short time later.

They could be doing it again, but this time it's not a surprise.

The Stars split their showdown with Red Top on Sunday at Iowa City  West High School to stay in first place in the IVL standings with  three weeks left in the season.

The Stars have a 9-5 record, followed by Williamsburg (7-5), Red Top  (7-7), Norway (6-8), Walford (6-8) and Watkins (5-7) in the compact  standings. The Stars have another big twin-bill on tap this Sunday at  Williamsburg in another showdown.

Austin Czerwiec, the Pitcher of the Year in the Iowa Valley League  last season, tossed another complete game Sunday as the Stars trimmed  Red Top, 2-1, in the first game of their doubleheader.

Cody Williams and Matt Berst had two hits for the Stars in the  victory. Berst collected an RBI and Alex Hayden had a key double.  Connor McCaffery socked a solo home run for Red Top for his third  homer in three weeks.

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Craig tosses gem for Ironside Apparel

Brooke Craig of UNI pitched a terrific game for Ironside Apparel in  the Iowa Women's Softball League on Sunday.

Craig tossed a five-hit shutout as Ironside Apparel blanked Emil's  Hideaway, 4-0, in the first game at Mount Mercy.

Adara Opiola, one of Craig's teammates at UNI, went 3-for-4 for  Ironside Apparel in the victory. Tawny Menster of Mount Mercy was  2-for-3 with two doubles and scored two runs. Morgan Goedken of  Wartburg was also 2-for-3.

Erin Kuba of Utah State had two hits for Emil's Hideaway.

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Brown walk-off part of fireworks in Watkins

WATKINS - There were fireworks going off all night during the annual Iowa Valley League holiday doubleheader between Norway and Watkins.

Most of the blasts were of the traditional variety with loud booms and blasts. Nick Brown provided one to remember on the field.

The former University of Iowa standout hit a two-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning Saturday night to give Watkins a 7-5 victory and a sweep of the twinbill before an overflow crowd at Gabe Kuester Memorial Ball Park.

The Mud Hens (5-7) got a two-run single from Jonny Frese in the bottom of the third to rally past the Bandits (6-8) for a 3-2 win in the opener.

Brown completed his career at Iowa in 2012. He played for the Mud Hens for part of that summer before returning to the Chicago area. Brown moved back to Iowa and has been on the Watkins roster full-time since  2014.

And when was the last time Brown had a walk-off homer?

"Not since my freshman year in high school," he said with a smile  before heading off to sit with his family on the field for the spectacular 25-minute post-game fireworks display.

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Schulte has worn many hats in IVL

Justin Schulte has been a prominent member of the Iowa Valley League for nearly four decades as a player, coach and umpire, but it actually began when he was a young kid in Norway.

Schulte was one of the boys who chased foul balls into the corn field  and front yards that surround the famed Norway baseball field. Now 46 years old, he figures he got started when he was about 7.

You still see kids chasing those foul balls and returning them for a quarter at Norway.

"It was probably a dime back then," he said Sunday after umpiring a pair of IVL games at Mount Mercy. "Inflation got it up to a quarter."

You'd need a family three to unravel all the Schulte brothers and cousins who have played ball in Norway. If you grew up in Norway, you played as soon as you quit wearing cloth diapers.

"I don't know if it's pre-ordained, but there are a heck of a lot of Schultes that played baseball," said one of the best. "A lot of families.

"Probably the highlight of my career was playing with all three of my brothers in the Iowa Valley League, to be honest with you. It's one of the highlights of my baseball career."

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