Xavier enters postseason in a different role

Softball: Saints 'fine' with first-round road date with Vinton-Shellsburg

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The Xavier Saints are relishing this under-the-radar gig.

An earlier-than-anticipated postseason casualty the last three seasons, Cedar Rapids Xavier doesn’t have the luxury of a first-round bye when Class 4A softball regionals open Thursday.

The Saints don’t even have home-field advantage in Round 1. And they don’t mind.

“We’re fine with going on the road,” Xavier Coach Nikki Gahring said. “We don’t have the pressures of being at home, but we’re not too far away.”

Despite a 16-24 record, Xavier approaches the postseason on an uptick — nine wins in its last 13 games. That includes an 11-0 win over Vinton-Shellsburg (12-24) on June 24. The Saints face the Vikettes at Vinton at 7 p.m. Thursday.

“Everything’s going pretty well right now,” said Gahring, who is seeking her first postseason win in four tries as a head coach. “All three facets — pitching, hitting and defense — are working well.”

The Saints are a young team. The top five hitters consist of three sophomores and two freshmen, and top pitcher Maria Steffen is a sophomore.

Xavier is one of four Metro/Iowa City teams that kick off regional play Thursday. Also in 4A, Marion (12-21) is at Clear Creek Amana (18-21). In Class 5A, Cedar Rapids Washington (13-24) entertains Cedar Falls (3-30), and Iowa City High (11-29) hosts Davenport Central.

The remainder of the Metro/Iowa City big-school contestants open regional play with semifinal games Saturday. That includes a matchup between Linn-Mar and Cedar Rapids Jefferson at Larry Niemeyer Field.

THURSDAY’S CLASS 5A REGIONAL QUARTERFINALS

(All games, 7 p.m.)

Region 3

Davenport Central (NA) at Iowa City High (11-29)

Region 5

Cedar Falls (3-30) at Cedar Rapids Washington (13-24)

Region 6

Des Moines Roosevelt (12-23) at Ankeny Centennial (16-20)

 

THURSDAY’S CLASS 4A REGIONAL QUARTERFINALS

(All games, 7 p.m.)

Region 2

Waterloo East (12-22) at Independence (17-22)

Webster City (13-17) at Boone (22-9)

Region 3

Dubuque Wahlert (5-33) at Western Dubuque (18-19)

Decorah (6-23) at Mason City (8-31)

Region 5

Marion (12-21) at Clear Creek Amana (18-21)

Washington (11-23) at Maquoketa (13-23)

Region 6

Ballard (17-19) at Grinnell (12-15)

Cedar Rapids Xavier (16-24) at Vinton-Shellsburg (12-24)

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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