After hearing their coaches, you’d think they were talking about the same baseball player.
The competitive fire that burns within Sioux City Heelan senior Tyler Cropley and Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto junior Korey Kuhlmann is eerily similar.
Heelan coach Andy Osborne on Cropley: “He is probably the best competitor that I’ve ever had at any level. When it’s game time, he just is a different kid. He’s not somebody who talks a lot, but he is such a competitor. He hates to lose at anything.”
MVAO coach Dan Dougherty on Kuhlmann: “I’ve been around some pretty good pitchers, and I would say that none are as competitive, and possibly as hard on themselves, as Korey. He has worked extremely hard to put himself in the position he is in, so the success he has had is not by luck or by accident. It is well-deserved.”
Throw in a tremendous amount of talent to their competitiveness, and you have the honorary captains on The World-Herald’s All-Western Iowa baseball teams. Cropley leads the Class 4-A/3-A team, while Kuhlmann captains the 2-A/1-A squad.
A four-year starter as a catcher and pitcher at Heelan, Cropley batted .466 as a senior with 13 doubles, three triples, four homers and 37 RBIs. He led the team in on-base percentage (.563) and slugging percentage (.729). On the mound, he was 4-1 with a 0.89 ERA, including 50 strikeouts and four walks.
Cropley ends his career as the Crusaders’ career leader in RBIs (142) and is tied for first in hits (186). He exits tied for second in doubles (45) and seventh in batting average (.390).
Cropley was the team’s designated hitter for about two weeks when he developed an elbow injury. Not coincidentally, that was Heelan’s worst stretch in a 31-8 season.
“It was pretty evident to the coaching staff that we were a completely different team without Tyler Cropley on the field defensively,” Osborne said.
Cropley will play at Iowa Western, which has won three of the past five national junior college championships, and is expected to compete at catcher.
“He wants to play Division I baseball, and I think with Iowa Western’s track record, there isn’t any better place to go to develop your skills,” Osborne said.
Kuhlmann led MVAO to its first state baseball appearance (Maple Valley last appeared on its own in 1979). It would be difficult to find an Iowa player who had more to do with his team’s trip to state than the hard-throwing left-hander.
He pitched every inning of the Rams’ five postseason games. To reach Des Moines, he threw four complete games, striking out 16, 14, 14 and nine while allowing three earned runs in 28 innings. Kuhlmann finished 10-4 with a 1.09 ERA, to go with 172 strikeouts and 33 walks in 90 innings.
“He was the true definition of a workhorse this postseason,” Dougherty said. “If there was an opportunity for him to pitch and he was ready, he was going to take the ball. Obviously, he did and what he did was truly amazing. He took us on a ride we’ll never forget.”
Heelan’s Cropley joins Council Bluffs Lewis Central junior catcher Austin Simmons as two-time, first-team All-WI performers among the large schools, after making the second team in 2012.
Kuhlmann joins four others who become two-time, first-team All-Western Iowa honorees: Sioux City Heelan senior outfielder Brady Mayo and Sioux City North junior outfielder Robert Neustrom in 4-A/3-A, and senior utility selections Austin Konsor of Underwood and Brett Carstens of Coon Rapids-Bayard in 2-A/1-A.
Three more move up from last year’s second team to earn first-team honors: Sergeant Bluff-Luton senior pitcher Cody Selig and Harlan senior outfielder Nate Gettys in 4-A/3-A, and Exira-EHK junior pitcher Tyler Jacobsen in 2-A/1-A.
P Brett Croghan, Harlan, So.
P Cody Selig, Sergeant Bluff-Luton, Sr.
P Daniel Tillo, Sioux City North, Jr.
C Austin Simmons, CB Lewis Central, Jr.
C Spencer Wyant, Sergeant Bluff-Luton, Jr.
IF Corey Bertini, Glenwood, Sr.
IF Sean Houston, Denison-Schleswig, Jr.
IF Caleb Shudak, CB Lewis Central, So.
IF Tanner Wauhob, Sioux City West, Jr.
OF Nate Gettys, Harlan, Sr.
OF Kaleb Hanks, Sioux City East, Jr.
OF Brady Mayo, Sioux City Heelan, Sr.
UT Cob Baker, Glenwood, Sr.
UT Tyler Cropley, Sioux City Heelan, Sr.
UT Hayden Godfrey, Sioux City East, Sr.
UT Robert Neustrom, Sioux City North, Jr.
Captain: Cropley, Sioux City Heelan
P Matt Brophy, CB Thomas Jefferson, Sr.
P Josh Jones, CB Lewis Central, Sr.
P Brayden Schurke, Denison-Schleswig, Sr.
C Dakota Blatchford, Sioux City East, Jr.
C Brady Wheeler, Glenwood, Sr.
IF Kyle Crowl, CB Abraham Lincoln, So.
IF Trent Solsma, Sioux City Heelan, Sr.
IF Cale Stork, Harlan, Sr.
IF Thomas Wisecup, Sergeant Bluff-Luton, Sr.
OF Trevor Luther, Creston, Sr.
OF Connor Niles, Sioux City Heelan, Sr.
OF Logan Steffens, Atlantic, Sr.
UT Bryce Hanson, Sergeant Bluff-Luton, Sr.
UT Taylor Neuroth, Sioux City West, Sr.
UT Peyton Renning, Carroll, Jr.
UT Zach Williamson, CB Thomas Jefferson, Sr.
Honorable mention: Ryan Admire, Sergeant Bluff-Luton; Trey Albert, Sioux City East; Gabe Barrera, Sioux City North; Alex Barrett, CB Abraham Lincoln; Davis Camarigg, Sioux City East; Kyle Christensen, Carroll; Spencer Franko, Sioux City East; Colby Hill, Sioux City West; Gabe Hoogers, Sioux City North; Philip Jacobson, Sioux City Heelan; Jacob Jones, CB Thomas Jefferson; Adam Juhl, Harlan; Drew Kasperbauer, Sioux City Heelan; Joe Keegan, Sioux City West; Cooper LaRue, Carroll; Derek Leinen, Harlan; Johnathan Love, CB Thomas Jefferson; Nick McCann, Sioux City Heelan; Nick Norton, Sioux City North; Nate O’Brien, Carroll; Zac Reynolds, Denison-Schleswig; Nolan Robinson, Glenwood; Ben Rodriguez, Sioux City North; Dalton Sauce, Sioux City Heelan; Connor Schlotfeldt, Sergeant Bluff-Luton; Wyatt Schulz, Glenwood; JJ Stephens, Sioux City East; Luke Sutherland, CB Lewis Central; Nick Tarney, Harlan; Joey Walker, Atlantic.
P Tyler Jacobsen, Exira-EHK, Jr.
P Korey Kuhlmann, Maple Valley-A-O, Jr.
P Caleb Lange, Lenox, Jr.
P Jared Vollstedt, IKM-Manning, So.
C Dustin Gordon, Lenox, Sr.
C Preston Jager, Underwood, Sr.
IF Brady Charbonneau, Logan-Magnolia, Jr.
IF Trevor Jameson, Nodaway Valley, Sr.
IF Shea Patterson, CB St. Albert, Sr.
IF Trey Robinson, Treynor, Jr.
OF Caylor Deeth, Coon Rapids-Bayard, Sr.
OF Brett Greenwood, Logan-Magnolia, Sr.
OF Jon Meyerring, CB St. Albert, Jr.
UT Jackson Baker, Shenandoah, Sr.
UT Brett Carstens, Coon Rapids-Bayard, Sr.
UT Zach Kliefoth, Exira-EHK, Jr.
UT Austin Konsor, Underwood, Sr.
Captain: Kuhlmann, Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto
P Ben Dotzler, OA-BCIG, So.
P Josh Hecker, CB St. Albert, Sr.
P Nick Paulsen, Treynor, Sr.
P Jake Petry, CB St. Albert, Jr.
C Adam Schleisman, Carroll Kuemper, Jr.
C Austin Switzer, Fremont-Mills, Sr.
IF Brett Daley, Treynor, Fr.
IF CJ Kyle, Missouri Valley, So.
IF Drew Peppers, Exira-EHK, Jr.
IF Sam Wegner, IKM-Manning, Jr.
OF Ben Chapin, Treynor, Jr.
OF Jose Rendon, Shenandoah, Sr.
OF Caleb Wichman, Underwood, Jr.
UT Keaton King, West Harrison, Fr.
UT Mackenzy Lang, Fremont-Mills, Jr.
UT Jordan Thompson, Orient-Macksburg, Jr.
UT Riley Wohlers, Logan-Magnolia, So.
Honorable mention: Noah Allmon, Missouri Valley; Kyle Bauerkemper, A-H-S-T; Tyler Beem, Nishnabotna; Kyle Blackledge, Treynor; Chad Blank, Nishnabotna; Spencer Brown, Lenox; Jacob Cain, Sidney; Clayton Christian, Glidden-Ralston; Michael Coates, Sidney; Cade Confer, Stanton; Logan Currin, East Mills; Shane Dansco, Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto; Cody Eischeid, IKM-Manning; Adam Ewoldt, Glidden-Ralston; Shawn Flanigan, Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto; Craig Fox, West Monona; Carlos Guerra, Red Oak; Broc Hansen, Fremont-Mills; Tanner Hedstrom, Woodbine; Michael Holste, CAM; Brandon Huebner, Tri-Center; Steven Humphrey, Missouri Valley; Steven Jacobsen, A-H-S-T; Eric Johnson, CB St. Albert; Jett Kettwick, Clarinda; Casey Ladd, Nodaway Valley; Jackson Lamb, Nodaway Valley; Kyle Liechti, Ar-We-Va; Keegan Longabaugh, Southwest Valley; Grant Mantell, Treynor; Wade Martian, West Monona; Travis Miller, CB St. Albert; Jameson Muxfeldt, Logan-Magnolia; Keenan Nunez, West Harrison; Tyler Oberreuter, OA-BCIG; Chris Osborn, Sidney; Devon Perkins, Shenandoah; Spencer Pingel, Underwood; Parker Rasmussen, OA-BCIG; Colby Rattenborg, Audubon; Austin Reitz, West Monona; James Reynolds, Griswold; Kyle Ryun, East Mills; Jacob Schafer, East Mills; Tucker Scott, Essex; Quentin Sefrit, Bedford; Baley Shantz, Nodaway Valley; Brodie Skinner, West Harrison; Rease Snyder, Carroll Kuemper; David Sorensen, Stanton; Todd Stoaks, Lenox; Michael Story, East Mills; Trace Ticknor, CAM; Sam Warden, Underwood; Cash Wilcke, OA-BCIG; Wes Zimmerman, Tri-Center.