Hackbarth signs with Upper Iowa University

WCHS senior will join Peacocks baseball program as a pitcher

Webster City’s Max Hackbarth poses on the mound this past summer after he was named a Class 3A first-team all-state pitcher by the Iowa Newspaper Association. On Tuesday, the Lynx senior signed a letter of intent to pitch collegiately at Upper Iowa University. DFJ file photo/Troy Banning

WEBSTER CITY — Max Hackbarth is walking, talking, breathing proof that a lot of hard work can go a long way.

Just another baseball player as a freshman and sophomore, Hackbarth, a Webster City senior, transformed himself into one of the state’s premier pitchers during his junior season this past summer and it will carry him onto the next level.

With Lynx baseball coach Adison Kehoe and his father, Hank, by his side, Hackbarth accepted a scholarship by signing a letter of intent to play college baseball at Division II Upper Iowa University in Fayette on Tuesday.

“It’s very exciting,” Hackbarth said. “It’s been a goal of mine since I’ve been playing little league, but after my sophomore year, if you had asked me if I would have been able to play college baseball, I would have said no way. I can’t believe how quickly it all changed.”

Through two seasons on the mound, Hackbarth owned a 2-5 record with a 4.98 earned run average. He had issued 33 walks and struck out just 32 batters.

Webster City senior Max Hackbarth (front) prepares to sign his letter of intent to play baseball at Upper Iowa University on Tuesday. Also present were Lynx head baseball coach Adison Kehoe (back left) and Hank Hackbarth, Max’s dad. Photo by Michele Veldhuizen

And then he went to work.

After an offseason of completely transforming his body, both physically and mentally, Hackbarth was nearly untouchable this past summer. He put together a 7-0 record and 0.52 ERA in 54 innings of work. He struck out 103 batters, the second-most in 3A, and opponents hit just .126 off the hard-throwing southpaw.

He ranked third in 3A in ERA among pitchers with 30 or more innings of work.

“Everything that has happened to this point and everything that will happen is kudos to his relentless hard work,” Kehoe, the Lynx rookie head coach this past summer, said. “When you make it to the collegiate level, I can’t speak enough to how wonderful it is and how excited I am for him.”

Hackbarth’s junior campaign included six outings where he recorded double-digit strikeout totals. He fanned a season-best 19 batters in a 1-0 win over Carroll in his first start of the season.

With Hackbarth as the ace of the pitching staff, the Lynx won their first North Central Conference championship in 17 years and put together a 19-5 record, their first winning season in a decade.

Hackbarth, who intends to study education, says his mutual affection with Upper Iowa was immediate the moment he stepped foot on campus.

“I had quite a few coaches that wanted to talk to me, but I knew that I wanted to go to Upper Iowa when I took a visit back in August,” he said. “I really liked the coaches a lot and I like (the education program).”

Peacocks’ head coach Brandon Hunt is in his second year at Upper Iowa. He led the team to a 19-29 record in his first season in 2016-17.

Hackbarth knows there are still plenty of ways he can improve his craft and he says he’s not about to stop working now.

“My goal is to be back on the 3A first-team all-state (next summer),” he said. “I’m going to work hard towards it, so (signing) doesn’t change anything.”