Eye on POY: Iowa baseball

The window on the Gatorade State Baseball Player of the Year race is closing, and the search for elite student-athletes is in full swing. The award recognizes not only athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Here are two top candidates who meet the basic award criteria as determined by our ESPNHS team that administers the program’s selection process.

Calvin Mathews

Senior RHP/IF, Davis County (Bloomfield, Iowa)

2011 Team record: 33-4 (Class 2A)

2011 Team standing: Class 2A state champions

2011 Batting average: .467

2011 RBI: 39

2011 Runs: 32

2011 W-L record: 12-1

2011 ERA: 0.51

2011 Strikeouts: 158

Academics: A-minus average

Collegiate destination: University of Iowa

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Belted 13 home runs and six doubles last season, producing a .967 slugging percentage. Enters his senior season with a career record of 37-4 with a 0.84 ERA and 464 strikeouts in 249.2 innings pitched. He also had 21 career homers. No. 183 ranked recruit in Class of 2012 as rated by Perfect Game USA. 2011 All-State Super Team selection as named by the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association. Three-time First Team All-South Central Conference pitcher.

Sam Norman

Senior 1B/LHP, Roosevelt (Des Moines, Iowa)

2011 Team record: 29-13 (Class 4A)

2011 Team standing: Lost Class 4A state quarterfinals

2011 Batting average: .415

2011 RBI: 48

2011 Runs: 43

Academics: A average

Collegiate destination: Creighton University

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Owned a .471 on-base percentage last season. Slugged 16 doubles as a junior. 2011 Class 4A Second Team All-State selection.

Make no mistake, the Gatorade State Baseball Player of the Year race isn’t over yet. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of our list. Here are some more of many who’ve been in the conversation throughout the 2011-12 campaign.

Derek Burkamper: Junior pitcher, Muscatine (Iowa)

Zac Freese: Sophomore pitcher, BGM (Brooklyn, Iowa)

Cale Henke: Senior pitcher/infielder, Hudson (Iowa)

Keaton McKinney: Sophomore pitcher/first baseman, Ankeny (Iowa)

A.J. Puk: Junior first baseman, Washington (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

Think we're missing a deserving Gatorade State Player of the Year candidate in your state? Let us know via e-mail at ESPNHS_GPOY@ESPN.com.