The scores and stats did not count Thursday, but what happened at the Junior College Showcase at Prospect Meadows Thursday could prove to be extremely important for the players, coaches and pro scouts who attended this unique event.
More than 250 players from 12 junior college baseball teams played a series of games at Prospect Meadows, hoping to catch the eye of a major college coach or a pro scout searching for talent.
“It’s awesome,” said Kyle Moeder, a freshman at Kirkwood Community College who was a three-sport star at Xavier High School in Cedar Rapids. “I’m just trying to soak it all in and experience it. I’ll just try to do my best. It’s a great opportunity.”
There was no official count of major college representatives in attendance Thursday, but Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Texas A&M, Florida International and many others have attended the JuCo Showcase in previous years when it was held at Kirkwood and Cedar Rapids Prairie.
“Really, people from all over the country are coming in,” said Nate Forsyth, the athletic director at Ellsworth Community College who served as the Showcase director.
Forsyth said more than 80 schools have attended these showcases, including coaches from all levels of college baseball – DI, DII, DIII and NAIA.
Jack Dahm, the head coach of Mount Mercy University, kept a sharp eye on all the players Thursday with games proceeding simultaneously on three fields at Prospect Meadows. Once those three games were over, three more games were on tap.
“It’s huge to have three games going at once,” said Dahm, who relies on junior college players to stock his roster. “You’re able to see more games and cover the event a lot easier.
“You’ve got all the top junior college players in the state here, so it’s a great event for us. It’s great to come out here and see everybody in one spot.”
DMACC, Ellsworth, Indian Hills, Iowa Central, Iowa Lakes, Kirkwood, Kishwaukee (Ill.), Marshalltown, NIACC, Northeast (Neb.), Southeastern and Southwestern sent teams to the Showcase. Forsyth said the goal is to have 16 teams in the event next year at Prospect Meadows.
Kirkwood Coach Todd Rima hosted the event the past few years, but readily supported the move to Prospect Meadows and its eight diamonds with field-turf infields.
“It’s a no-brainer,” said Rima. “With the rain we had today, we’re very fortunate to have Prospect Meadows.” Rima brought a full team to the Showcase.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for our guys in one day to be seen by so many Division I, Division II, Division III and professional scouts,” he said. “To have a set-up like this is tremendous.
“Our guys are excited. They’re excited about the opportunity they have.”
There was heavy rain in the area Thursday morning, but the skies cleared by Thursday afternoon and everyone was ready to go. If the event had been scheduled on a regular grass field, the Showcase might have been postponed due to wet grounds.
“This is a fantastic facility,” said Forsyth. “This is a great facility for us and for these players to play in front of all these scouts and coaches. It’s a huge advantage for these guys, because they can get seen today and get help with their recruiting process.”
A similar showcase for junior college softball teams is scheduled for Prospect Meadows on Friday, Oct. 11.