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State baseball returns to Carroll, steers clear of Marshalltown

For the first time since 2004, the Iowa High School Athletic Association’s state baseball championships will be conducted at two separate sites with Carroll’s Merchants Park and the University of Iowa’s Duane Banks Field serving as hosts.

The 2021 IHSAA State Baseball Tournament is scheduled for July 26-31, with Classes 1A and 2A in Carroll from July 26-29, and Classes 3A and 4A in Iowa City from July 28-31.

Next month’s schedules and sites were approved by the IHSAA’s Board of Control on Thursday. The one-year plans are pending formal approval by the City of Carroll and the University of Iowa.

“The last 15 months have been filled with changes and constantly-evolving plans, and this tournament is no exception,” IHSAA executive director Tom Keating said. “We’re excited to have two high-quality hosts in Carroll and the University of Iowa where our student-athletes can make memories and compete for state championships.”

Principal Park in Des Moines served as the state tournament’s sole venue from 2005 to 2020. Conflicting dates with new Minor League Baseball schedules caused a change for 2021, and the IHSAA has not yet determined sites or details for baseball’s future state tournaments.

In previous years at Principal Park, nearby member schools served as standby sites in case of inclement weather or delay. The staggered 2021 tournament dates are currently intended to account for any delays at the primary sites.

“We greatly appreciate the work of the Iowa Cubs and Principal Park staff over the last 16 state tournaments, especially with last year’s health protocols and late adjustments,” IHSAA assistant director and baseball co-administrator Todd Tharp said.

Carroll first hosted the IHSAA’s Class A State Baseball Tournament in 1970, and again in 1973. The summer event returned in 1995 as the tournament transitioned to an eight-team format, with two of the four classes playing at Carroll Baseball Stadium. The stadium has over 1,200 permanent seats and was renovated in 2011 and renamed Merchants Park, which was its title prior to 1965.

The large-school classes will travel to the eastern side of the state as the tournament arrives in Iowa City for the first time. Duane Banks Field, the on-campus home of the Iowa Hawkeyes, seats 2,300 spectators at 100 percent capacity and was most recently renovated in 2015.

Marshalltown had served as host of at least half of the state baseball tournaments from 1975-2004. MHS hosted the entire two-class tournament from 1975-1980, and then entertained all four classes at state from 1981-1994.

The state tournament was divided between Marshalltown and Carroll from 1995-2004, with 2A and 4A at the MHS diamond, and 1A and 3A at Merchants Park.

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