Denison-Schleswig won the Class 3A state baseball championship in 1994.
It was the school’s first-ever state title on the diamond and to this day is still the lone championship in that sport.
It can also be argued that the 1994 Monarch team was the best in school history.
That’s an argument for another day, though.
The Denison-Schleswig baseball team in 2000 featured an array of senior leadership and youthful talent that came within an eyelash of bringing home the school’s second state championship under veteran head coach Don Lyons.
"It really was two different teams. The 1994 team was dominated by seniors and the 2000 team had three talented seniors and a bunch of underclassmen that just helped mesh the team together as one," he added.
Coming off a 29-9 season in 1999, the D-S baseball team in 2000 returned eight lettermen, including seniors Corey Schultz, David Katzer and Collin Koch; juniors Jordan Lickteig and David Popp and sophomores Ryan Frehse, Derek Martin and Derek Fink.
Filling out the squad were junior Travis Friedrichsen; sophomores Mike Kennedy, Nate Lingren, Derek Lambert and Mat Trierweiler; freshman Lucas Gillmor and eighth-grader Jeremy Kippley.
The 2000 team entered postseason play 30-4 overall and ranked third in the state in Class 3A.
D-S didn’t have to travel far, playing all three of its district games at Carroll Stadium.
D-S beat Carroll Kuemper (8-0), Harlan (4-2) and Atlantic (3-2) to reach the state tournament for the first time since the 1994 season.
Carroll Stadium also was the site of the Class 3A state tournament in 2000.
Third-seed D-S (33-4) opened the state tournament against sixth-seed Sioux City Heelan (26-16) in a quarterfinal matchup on July 27.
Heelan led 2-0 going into the bottom of the fourth when Schultz led off with a double and eventually scored to make it 2-1.
It stayed that way until the sixth when Schultz stepped to the plate and blasted a home run over the left field fence to tie it at 2-2.
A scoreless seventh for Heelan set up the final at bat for D-S, again highlighted by Schultz, who belted a one-out, three-run home run for a 5-2 Monarch victory.
Schultz also went the distance on the mound, allowing Heelan only six hits with two strikeouts and no walks in improving to 12-0 on the season.
"At first, it was a little upsetting that we drew a team from western Iowa right away, but that’s just how it worked out in the seeding. I would have liked to seen someone new, though," Lyons said.
"Schultz did a great job on the mound and then came through at the plate with the tying and game-winning home runs." Lyons said.
Chants of "Corey, Corey" were heard from the Monarch faithful, as the senior was pushed to the ground by his teammates after touching home plate, according to Lyons.
D-S then got matched up with second-ranked West Delaware (33-3) in a state semifinal game one night later on July 28.
The Hawks were no match for D-S, as the Monarchs pounded out 11 hits and scored 13 runs in the fourth and fifth innings en route to a 15-3 victory in five innings.
The big blow in the fourth was a grand slam home run by Schultz that hit the scoreboard in right field.
Frehse was the winning pitcher against West Delaware, as he tossed five innings, allowing only five hits with eight strikeouts to his credit in finishing 12-1 overall on the hill in the 2000 season.
"Because of how the game went, we went on cruise control and I was able to save Schultz for the championship game," Lyons said.
That win moved D-S into the state title game on July 29 against 10th-rated and top-seeded Fort Madison (32-9).
Fort Madison downed Vinton-Shellsburg 5-1 in the other semifinal.
Playing its sixth straight postseason game at Carroll Stadium, D-S was limited to only two hits by Fort Madison pitchers Andy Fuget and Jeff Lamb in a 3-2 victory for the Bloodhounds.
But D-S didn’t go down without a fight.
Down 2-0, D-S put together its initial threat in the bottom of the sixth.
With the bases loaded, Schultz stepped to the plate with no outs. He contacted the first pitch from Fuget and grounded to shortstop Lamb, who threw home for the force and out number one.
"That was a heck of a play by their shortstop and a gutsy one. If he throws the ball away, we score two," Lyons said.
Again with the bases loaded, Katzer stepped up to the plate. He hit a one-bouncer right in front of the plate. Fort Madison’s catcher grabbed the ball out of the air, stepped on the plate for the force and out No. 2 and then threw to first for the third out to end the inning.
Fort Madison scored an insurance run in the top of the seventh to make it 3-0.
D-S again rallied in its final at bat.
With one out, Fink walked and was forced out at second on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Popp.
With Popp at first and two outs, Fuget walked Lickteig and hit Kippley to load the bases for Frehse, who walked to score Popp to make it 3-1.
Fuget then was pulled in favor of Lamb, who initially walked Martin to score Lickteig to make it 3-2.
With the bases loaded, Schultz stepped to the plate. Down 0-2 in the count, Schultz fouled off three straight pitches before working the count to 2-2.
The next pitch resulted in a called third strike on the outside corner, as Schultz was left standing at home plate, while Fort Madison players and coaches celebrated the school’s first-ever state championship.
"We had the right guy at the plate. It was sad to see Schultz walk off with a call like that, but I would take him 100 times out of 100 times at the plate," Lyons said.
"That one call didn’t decide the game, though," Lyons remarked. "We just couldn’t get a clutch hit, as we were snakebitten in the last couple of innings."
"Fort Madison made some great plays at the end and that’s what it takes to win championships," added Lyons, who said the loss in no way took away from the team’s accomplishments that season.
"We had tremendous leadership and contributions from a lot of different players. Schultz, Katzer and Koch were the heart and soul of the team, but we had a bunch of younger guys who loved the game of baseball," Lyons said.
"We had a lot of memorable moments. You could just see the confidence and level of play rise throughout the season."
"It was a very rewarding season. The guys put a good product on the field and the fans apprecited that," noted Lyons, whose 2000 squad finished 35-5 overall en route to setting several individual and team school records that year.
D-S also went 17-1 to win the Hawkeye 10 Conference title.
In all, the team set nine single-season records and tied another.
The team’s 35 wins set a record, while the team also set new marks for runs batted in (288), doubles (77) and home runs (47).
Katzer, a 2000 graduate of DHS, just remembers all the fun he had that year.
"We didn’t have a lot of experience with having only three seniors, but we had a bunch of underclassmen who looked up to us and did whatever they were asked to do," said Katzer, who played at the varsity level for five years.
"We just had tremendous chemistry. There were no egos, as everyone wanted what was best for the team and not for themselves. I remember that nothing brought the team down. The guys were always positive and that was true to the end," Katzer said.
Katzer led D-S with a .488 batting average in 2000, while also leading the team with 61 hits, 16 doubles, 16 home runs, 66 runs batted in and 59 runs scored.
All those numbers set single-season records that year.
Katzer was on deck when the state championship game against Fort Madison ended.
"I felt so sorry for Schultz. He was one of the best and consistent clutch hitters. The pitch sure looked like it was low and outside," Katzer said.
"We made a tremendous run, though. Heck, we went 35-5 and our fifth loss was in the state championship game. You can’t hang your head about that," noted Katzer, whose brother Mike played on the Monarchs’ 1994 state title team.
Katzer said playing for Lyons is something he’ll never forget.
"Hands down, the most influential coach in my life. He just cared about you not just as an athlete, but as a person. He pushed me to work harder and because of that, I played better for him and for myself," remarked Katzer, who currently lives in the Kansas City metro area.
He works with industrial and commerical insulation as a general foreman in the Kansas City area.
David and his wife, Alexis, have four children, including three sons, Landin, 16, Breckin, 14, and Urbin, 5, and a daughter, Macelin, 8.
Koch was the team’s senior catcher in 2000.
At the plate, Koch hit .371 with 46 hits, including 14 doubles and four home runs during that season.
Koch remembers the 2000 team being just like a family.
"We were about as tight as any organization I’ve ever been involved with even today. We all moved toward the same goal," Koch said.
"The guys never complained. We all plowed in the same direction and that’s not common. I’ve coached a lot of travel teams over the years and that’s not common. I’ve never have to this day seen another team that had so much teamwork and camaraderie. That really speaks volumes to coach Lyons," he added.
"Heck, coach Lyons let me call every game and he never second guessed me."
Koch said the level of competition during that time period was unheard of.
"We played against a lot of talented teams in 2000 and we just plowed right through them. As a whole, the level of competition at that time has not been replicated today in Iowa. I would put the teams we played in the postseason to reach the state championship game up against anyone," Koch stated.
Koch was in the hole when the state title game ended.
"When we started the seventh, I think it was still a formality that we were going to win the game. There was no quit in our guys," Koch said.
"We had our guy in Schultz at the plate, but you know what, I would have taken anyone of our guys at the plate in that situation. That’s how much confidence we had in each other," Koch remarked.
Koch said over and over just how special the 2000 team was.
"Aside from being leaders, we just had so much talent on that team. Kazter, Schultz and myself had chances to play Division I ball. We just had smart baseball guys who understood what it took to be successful," Koch said.
That all starts with coach Lyons, according to Koch.
"I learned so much from him. So much so, that I took what I learned and passed that on to the kids that I coached through traveling teams starting at age 12 and all the way through high school," Koch said.
"It all boils down to the leader and someone having the right values. That was coach Lyons," said the now 38-year-old Koch, who resides in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with his wife, Jenna, and two children, son, Tristan, 13, and daughter, Audrina, 4.
Katzer works as a national sales manager for Mobile Mini, a company that provides mobile offices to sites nationwide.
Schultz finished the 2000 season 12-1 on the mound with his only loss coming in the state title game.
At the plate, Schultz hit .398 with 47 hits, including 12 doubles, three triples and 10 home runs, while knocking in 46 runs and scoring 57 runs.
Schultz was a five-year letterwinner at the varsity level for D-S and said the 2000 season was by far the most memorable for him.
"It still gives me chills every once in a while when I think about that season. It wasn’t about the games or any specific things that happened, but rather the relationships I had with my teammates and coaches. There was just so much camaraderie among the guys," commented Schultz.
"What made that team so special was that not one player played for himself. We had a bunch of guys who truly cared for each other. The coaches were the same way and when you have that, that’s when something special happens. That’s what I remember the most," he added.
Every member of the team in their own way made contributions during that season, according to Schultz.
"We didn’t have one or two guys that it all fell back on at times. We had different guys contribute all season long and that’s why we got to where we did," Schultz said.
Schultz remembers the home runs against Heelan and West Delaware as personal highlights, but he also remembers where he was when the season ended.
"I do think about it from time to time, but it doesn’t bother me and I don’t let it consume me. If the same situation happened again, I would take it in a heartbeat to be at the plate with the game on the line," Schultz said.
"That’s what you play for. That’s why you work so hard during practice and throughout the season. Who doesn’t dream about being in that situation? I think if you ask any of the guys, they would have wanted to be at the plate themselves."
"Yeah, the last pitch might have been a questionable strike, but you know what, after thinking about it, I had a couple of pitches prior to that and could have come through, so I don’t fault anybody but myself. I had my chance," Schultz said.
Schultz also said he was glad he was on the mound against Fort Madison in the state title game.
"I think if you ask any of the players, they’ll tell you that we didn’t have our best game against Fort Madison. I know my performance wasn’t the best. Going into that game my arm was a little fatigued, but I wanted to pitch. I wanted to be the one to win the game for us. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work out in our favor," Schultz said.
Schultz also remembers the amount of support the Monarchs received from the fans.
"The support was fantastic. Yeah, playing in Carroll we were only 25 or 30 minutes from Denison, but I think we could have been four hours away and we would have had the same support," Schultz said.
"Denison loves its sports and the community loves to follow and watch its teams. That’s why it was so much fun to go out and play," noted Schultz, who currently is a sales representative for Elliott Equipment Company in Grimes.
Corey and wife, Gina, live in Waukee with their three children, two daughters, Addison, 9, and Molly, 7, and son, Ryan, 3.
Gina is a nurse at the SCA Surgery Center in West Des Moines.
Postseason awards in 2000 for Schultz, Katzer, Koch and other Monarchs poured in.
Schultz and Katzer both were honored as first-team all-state selections in Class 3A by the Iowa Newspaper Association.
Schultz was named captain of the Class 3A honor squad that year by the INA.
Koch was honored on the INA’s second team, while Freshe was an honorable mention choice.
The Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association also named Schultz to the All-State Super Team in 2000, honoring the Monarch senior as one of the top 15 players in the state regardless of class.
Koch and Katzer both were named first-team, all-staters in Class 3A by the IHSBCA.
Frehse was a second-team all-state selection by the IHSBCA.