Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
The Fourth of July has passed which means its fireworks time for softball teams across the state of Iowa.
Regional play opens in Classes 1A and 2A on Monday with 3A quarterfinals on Wednesday and 4A and 5A postseason play beginning on Thursday.
The goal for every team is a spot in the 2019 state tournament that runs July 22-26 at Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge.
Before postseason play gets rolling here are five things to keep an eye on as area teams attempt to earn their way to the state tournament.
Last season the Little Hawks were the surprise of the 5A postseason snapping a long state tournament drought with their first trip to Fort Dodge since 2001.
City High won’t be sneaking up on anyone this July as it attempts to turn last season’s postseason surge into a string of state tournament appearances.
Fifth-ranked City High (30-7) wrapped up its first Mississippi Valley Conference title since 1998 last week and is the top seed in 5A Region 5.
City High has everything required to be a contender in 5A this season.
The Little Hawks have postseason experience with its lineup from last year’s team that won its first game at state since 1982 returning intact.
City High has the power (5A leader in home runs), pitching (team ERA of 2.09 is 8th in 5A) and all-around production (5 players hitting over .300 and five players with 4 or more homers) to make postseason noise again.
Stop if you’ve heard this before.
Regina enters the postseason with a win-loss record barely above .500 before peaking at the right time to make a push into the 2A title game.
That’s because it has become standard operating procedure for the Regals who are seeking an astonishing fifth straight state title showing.
Regina enters the postseason 18-17, the top seed in 2A Region 8 and needing three wins to reach the state tournament for a fifth consecutive season.
In its previous four trips to state Regina has entered with 23, 27, 26 and 23 wins and reached the title game all four seasons winning titles in 2015 and 2017.
Just as it has been in past seasons Regina is all sorts of battle tested.
Of its 17 losses 16 have come against teams from larger classes and a whopping 14 of those losses have been to ranked teams.
The Regals’ lone loss to a 2A team came against second-ranked Durant and the Regals also own a 2-0 win over the Wildcats.
One perennial power absent from the past two state tournaments is Solon which made the trip to Fort Dodge six straight seasons from 2011 to 2016.
Solon reached three title games during its six-year state tournament run winning the 4A crown in 2015.
After a third-place finish in 2016 the Spartans have missed back-to-back state tournaments falling in the regional semifinals to Benton Community last season.
Solon will attempt to stop that streak this season as the top seed in Class 3A, Region 5.
Ninth-ranked Solon (21-15) opens postseason play on Wednesday by hosting Mid-Prairie (9-20) and would have home field advantage all the way through another postseason run.
The Spartans have dropped seven of their last 10 with all seven losses coming to ranked teams.
Liberty High took plenty of important steps during an 18-24 debut season last summer.
Among the most notable was the first playoff win in program history, a 3-2 win over Central DeWitt in the Class 4A regional quarterfinals.
Liberty High will look to take another step or even two this season.
The first season in varsity history ended with a 1-0 loss to Cedar Rapids Xavier in the regional semifinals.
With a win in its 4A, Region 7 opener at Washington (22-13) the Lightning could get another semifinal shot at the Saints.
Liberty High swept tenth-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier in a Mississippi Valley Conference doubleheader by scores of 8-4 and 11-10 back on June 27.
Liberty High has represented itself well in its first season in the powerful Mississippi Valley Conference posting an 18-18 record entering a regular season-ending doubleheader at Cedar Rapids Kennedy on Monday.
Three area teams earned top seeds in the respective regionals through strong regular season performances.
City High, Solon and Regina are all top-seeds and all three could face regular season rematches with conference opponents in regional finals if seeds hold true over the next few weeks.
All three teams had success against their potential regional final foes during the regular season.
Regina swept River Valley Conference South Division rival and 2A, Region 8 second-seeded Wilton 11-0 and 9-5 last week.
City High won a pair of one-run games over No. 11 and 5A, Region 5 second seed Dubuque Hempstead 2-1 and 5-4 in Dubuque back on May 23.
Solon could face Highway 1 and WAMAC rival Mount Vernon in the 3A, Region 5 title game.
The two teams split a doubleheader at Solon on June 24 with Solon winning the opener 13-10 and the Mustangs taking the nightcap 12-2.
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