INDIANOLA, Iowa – The Simpson baseball team begins Iowa Conference Tournament action on Thursday, heading to Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Simpson is slated to face Wartburg at 1 p.m.
The Storm (18-22, 12-12) enter the tournament as underdogs, seeded sixth. Third-seeded Wartburg (22-18, 14-10) swept the regular season series 3-0, played on Simpson's home turf.
The double-elimination tournament involves six of the nine teams in the Iowa Conference. Top-seeded Central (29-9, 19-5) has received votes in the most recent American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) rankings. Defending champion Coe (24-15, 15-9) returns to the IIAC Tournament as the No. 2 seed. Luther (22-18, 13-11) earned the No. 4 seed, and is followed by fifth-seeded Buena Vista (21-17, 13-11).
Simpson went a combined 5-10 against teams in the tournament field.
In the Batter's Box
The Storm are led at the plate by first baseman Tyler Craig. Batting cleanup, Craig leads the team with four home runs, 30 RBIs and 11 doubles. He displayed a knack for clutch hitting with a pair of game-winners on the year.
Simpson also gets great contributions from starting shortstop Tyler Crandell and leftfielder Jake Barr. Crandell (.326 BA, 12 RBIs) has seven doubles and three triples, stealing 11 bases in 13 tries. Barr is Simpson's other main run producer, batting .299 with four home runs and 27 RBIs.
On the Mound
The Simpson pitching staff features four pitchers who have thrown more than 40 innings. Aaron Young leads the team with a 3.32 ERA and 86 2/3 innings. He is 4-6 in 11 starts, showing an ability to go deep into games by throwing nine or more innings on four occasions. Senior Chris Dorff is just three strikeouts from becoming Simpson's all-time leader. Dorff has 194 career strikeouts and 65 on the season, good for fourth in the conference.
Kyle Ruehle is fresh off his second 1-hit shutout of the year, blanking both Dubuque and Cornell. Ruehle has a 3.47 ERA and a 4-2 record. The primary option out of the bullpen has been Jose Rodriguez, appearing in 18 games. Rodriguez has a 3.35 ERA and three saves.
Iowa Conference Tournament History and Notes
The Simpson baseball team has been a model of consistency over the years, qualifying for the Iowa Conference Tournament 17 times in the tournament's 18-year history … the Storm's only absence came in 2002 … Wartburg leads the way with 18 appearances, while Central has 15 … Simpson won the first edition of the tournament in 1994, adding a second title in 2004 … Simpson (33-27) is one of three teams with a winning record in the tournament, joining Wartburg (48-22) and Coe (19-13) … the two worst winning percentages belong to Central (11-27, .275%) and Dubuque (6-13, .316%).
Follow all of the Iowa Conference Tournament action here, where you can find live stats, box scores, and brackets.