Eight Dodgers earn baseball honors
Blake Utley loves what is happening with his Fort Dodge baseball team as eight Dodgers received postseason honors, and six will be returning next season.
Fort Dodge landed five players on the CIML Iowa All-Conference first two teams, while receiving three honorable mention picks.
Senior Christian Davidson, along with the junior pair of Jace Ulrich and Drake Callon were on the first team. Senior Dylan Zimmermann and junior Carson Peterson were on the second team.
The junior trio of Eli Elsbecker, Triston Bockoven and Alex Underwood were honorable mentions.
Davidson, who transferred to Fort Dodge from Pocahontas Area, made a great impact in the Dodger dugout in just one season.
The Dodger pitcher hit .336 for the Dodgers with a team-high 41 hits and 31 RBI.
Davidson fought through injuries all season. He started five games for the Dodgers, striking out 32 batters and boasting a 3.65 ERA.
“Christian is an outstanding kid, from an outstanding family,” said Fort Dodge head coach Blake Utley. “He grew up with some of these guys and he fit right in. He isn’t the most talkative person, but the guys were able to break his shell and they came together well.
“He is an ultra talented young man. I wish he was healthy all season, so we could have seen what would have happened.”
Ulrich went on a tear for the Dodgers in the later part of the season. Ulrich blasted eight home runs and drove in a team-high 44 runs. He hit .320 and had 30 hits at first base for the Dodgers.
“Jace has come a long way from when he was a freshman and now being an upperclassman,” Utley said. “He found a new confidence and was steady all season. He is the guy you want to come up to bat when you need a hit.
“He was able to get a ground ball or punch something through. He was also good with the glove at first. He was a leader and would settle our pitchers down on the mound.”
Callon was a menace on the base path for opposing teams, swiping 32 bases. He batted .325 and drove in 21 runs on 38 hits, scoring 43 runs. Callon was 5-2 on the season with 26 strikeouts on the mound.
“Drake took a huge step offensively. We knew he could do it, but the biggest step was his confidence,” Utley said. “He had a good start to the season and rode that all year.
“You could count on him getting on base twice in a game and being smart on the bases. He stole 32 bases and was always waiting and trying to find a way to get to the next base.”
Zimmermann was a force behind the plate for Fort Dodge. Zimmermann threw out six of 14 runners on attempted steals and only committed two errors in 140 chances. At the plate, he hit .305 with 15 RBI on 29 hits and hit three home runs.
“Dylan is as good as anybody in the state defensively behind the plate,” Utley said. “He was a force behind the plate. Not many guys ran on him. He was just a wall back there.”
Peterson picked up four victories as a pitcher, while striking out 38 batters. Peterson hit .294 on 32 hits and drove in 25 runs.
“Carson is a super talented guy, who was expecting better numbers from himself,” Utley said. “I expect to see big things out of him as his confidence rises.”
Bockoven was the leading hitter for the Dodgers, batting .380. He had 30 hits and drove in 16 runs.
“Triston had surgery coming into the season and had a slow takeoff,” Utley said. “He started showing what he could do in conference play. He led the team in hitting.
“He is smooth and gets a good read on the ball.”
Elsbecker had 28 hits and drove in 21 runs, while stealing nine bases.
“Eli came on last year and was ultra steady this season in the infield,” Utley said. “He developed his arm and is always working on the game of baseball. It means a ton to him.
“I can’t wait to see what one more offseason will do for him. He will turn some people’s heads next year.”
Underwood came on for the Dodgers, becoming a strong arm in the rotation. He finished the season 3-5 with 22 strikeouts and a 5.03 ERA.
“Alex was a guy that came in and we didn’t know what role he was going to take,” Utley said. “He was one of our most steady guys. He was able to throw the ball off the plate or inside. He showed the other guys that it doesn’t always come down to velocity.”
Future Iowa football and baseball player Brody Brecht of Ankeny, along with teammates Weston Fulk, Kade Somers and Jase Bauer were unanimous first team selections.
Mason City teammates Carter Thomas and Alex Gold were also unanimous selections.