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Redhawks bow out to Pirates in District final 11-1 to end season

July 25, 2019
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Traer Star-Clipper

The North Tama baseball season came to a sudden end on Saturday, July 20 in Alburnett as the host Pirates took control from the second inning to conclude the Redhawks' season with a big sixth inning.

"It's all about surviving this time of year," Kopriva said. "The Belle Plaine win gave us another day to play. No matter how you win, it's just about who has the most runs up on the board. It got us to advance to play a quality team in Alburnett. We didn't pull the upset, but this team did have a good season."

The Redhawks opened District play with a close-call win against Central City 3-2 in Traer before moving to Alburnett on Tuesday, July 16 to face off against the Plainsmen of Belle Plaine. Tate Payne scored the first run for the Redhawks as the Plainsmen struggled against Hale Hulme on the mound and the defense behind him against a team looking to put the ball in play. A pitching error gave Hulme North Tama's second run before a RBI double by Ryan McLean sent Skyler Staker and Gabe Kopriva across the plate for a 4-0 lead. A lightning delay would pause the game in the top of the sixth inning. Henson would step up on the mound to end the game, not before two runs by the Plainsmen to make the game interesting. The Redhawks would prevail in the top of the seventh as they shut out Belle Plaine and advance to the District finals for the second time in three years.

Article Photos

Skyler Staker tags a runner in District final action on Saturday, July 20.

"Belle Plaine had a pretty good team and I knew this wouldn't be an easy game," Kopriva said. "Their pitcher kept us off balance and were fortunate to string something together with McLean's double to drive in a couple of runs."

Next up for North Tama were the Pirates of Alburnett, the third-ranked team in 1A looking to move on to Substate at Marion on July 23. It would be the Redhawks in the top of the second who would strike first as Luke Pennell batted in Gabe Kopriva. From there, however, the home Pirates strung together four runs in the bottom of the inning off Redhawk errors, holding tight to their 4-1 win until their bats came alive in the sixth for seven runs and the win 11-1.

"Alburnett put the ball in play and we gave them a bunch of free passes," Kopriva said. "They hit the ball hard at times, but others they just dinked the ball in the infield. With our passes, they put those runs on in the second and sixth."

The Redhawks finished the 2019 season with a record of 21-10, improving from their 2018 campaign by five wins overall. North Tama overcome a season-opening loss to Colo-Nesco to claim their second Iowa Star South Conference title in as many years, a major goal for the six seniors who are now finished with the program.

"Anytime you win 20 games or more and a conference title, that's something to feel proud of," Kopriva said. "That's two conference titles in a row, a streak this program can hopefully continue."

Even with the senior class moving on, the cabinets are not bare for the Redhawks next season. Returning for North Tama next year are four of their six leaders in runs-Payne, Kopriva, Staker and McLean-as the team will use the offseason to search for answers on the mound and fielding.

"There's some talented juniors that I feel haven't reached their full potential on the ball field," Kopriva said. "If they continue to work hard, they'll have a good season next year."

Photos from the season are available on Flickr through the Traer Star-Clipper Facebook page. For requests for photos, please contact Editor CJ Eilers at



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