116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
There’s another level up there somewhere that Chad Spore thinks his team can achieve.
“I fully believe that we haven’t peaked yet,” said the softball coach at North Linn. “We’re still looking for a spark to explode offensively.”
Now wouldn’t be a bad time.
The reigning Class 2A state champions, the top-ranked Lynx (31-8) host No. 15 Central City (34-7) in a 1A regional final Monday. First pitch is 7 p.m.
It is one of five regional finals involving area teams. Also in 1A, third-rated Lisbon (34-4) hosts No. 9 Clarksville (19-2), and No. 11 Sigourney (23-5) travels to No. 7 Twin Cedars (25-3).
Class 2A, in the area, is about the River Valley Conference. No. 4 Iowa City Regina (20-11) welcomes No. 12 East Marshall (25-7), and Cascade (19-11) heads to No. 7 Wilton (25-6).
Winners advance to the state tournament next week at the Rogers Sports Complex, Fort Dodge.
That’s a familiar destination lately for both North Linn (three straight trips) and Lisbon (four in a row).
Central City, on the other hand, hasn’t qualified since 1961. But Spore knows that the Wildcats are capable.
“They know us, and we know them,” he said. “We’re going to get everybody’s best shot, but because of that, we’re battle-tested.”
The Lynx swept the Wildcats on May 26, 5-0 and 4-3.
With a midseason mark of 7-9, Cascade didn’t resemble a state-tournament outfit, but the Cougars have put the pieces together lately, particularly in the pitching circle.
They have won 12 of their last 14 games, knocking off 3A No. 4 West Liberty in their regular-season finale before notching back-to-back regional shutouts.
“Now that we’re all healthy, it makes a big difference,” Cougars Coach Sonya McCormick said. “Kate Green’s arm was down for a while and we gave her some rest and some stretching exercises. Now she’s back and we have a different kind of momentum when she’s out there.
“We’ve realized that we’re a good team and we can compete.”
Monday’s Class 2A regional finals
No. 12 EAST MARSHALL (25-7) at No. 4 IOWA CITY REGINA (20-11)
With seven state appearances (and three championships) in the past 10 years, Regina is one of the area’s most consistent winners lately. The Regals are one of four River Valley Conference teams still standing, and advanced to this point with a 2-0 regional-semifinal win over Alburnett. Four starters return from last year’s state-tournament squad, including junior catcher Courtney Kessler (. 412, 22 RBIs) and senior pitcher Emma Nibaur (15-7, 2.48 ERA). East Marshall and its predecessors LDF and LDF-Semco have been a softball presence for more than three decades. Sophomore pitcher Morgan Neuroth is 19-6 and also has 15 doubles.
CASCADE (19-11) at No. 7 WILTON (25-6)
The runners-up of the two respective divisions of the River Valley Conference collide; Wilton captured the regular-season meeting between these teams, 8-1. Cascade is on a tear now, though, winning 12 of its last 14 games, including back-to-back postseason shutouts. Junior Devin Simon is a force at the plate, hitting .500 with eight triples, eight home runs, 46 runs and 31 RBIs. Wilton was a state qualifier as the No. 1 seed last year, but lost in the first round to Earlham. Six starters are back from that squad, including junior pitcher Charlotte Brown (24-6, 223 strikeouts, .447 at the plate, 33 RBIs).
No. 15 Cardinal (22-12) at No. 8 Louisa-Muscatine (24-8)
Grundy Center (18-9) at No. 6 Van Meter (29-9)
No. 13 Osage (22-6) at No. 1 Central Springs (30-1)
No. 14 Ridge View (19-8) at No. 2 North Union (31-3)
West Central Valley (28-8) at Mount Ayr (16-9)
No. 9 West Monona (29-6) at No. 3 Logan-Magnolia (27-0)
Monday’s Class 1A regional finals
No. 9 CLARKSVILLE (19-2) at No. 3 LISBON (34-4)
Lisbon found itself in fairly deep trouble in the regional semifinals, trailing Springville by a run with one out and nobody on in the bottom of the eighth. But five straight batters reached base, including a game-tying triple by Gabi Moehlman and the winning single by Kali Nelson, and the Lions survived. A better performance is necessary Monday, though, if the Lions are going to make their fifth straight state tournament. Lisbon bombed Clarksville 10-0 in the quarterfinals last year. The Indians are going for their fourth straight trip to Fort Dodge; they were champions in 2020. They had a drama-free regional semifinal, 9-0 over BCLUW.
No. 15 CENTRAL CITY (34-7) at No. 1 NORTH LINN (31-8)
North Linn has been the queen of the hill in the Tri-Rivers Conference lately, as well as a perennial state-title threat. The Lynx were 2A state champions in 2019, runners-up in 2020, champs again in 2021. They are down in 1A now, and a veteran crew led by seniors Jill Smith and Jenna Lemley are hungry for more Fort Dodge glory. But they have to get there first, and Central City is a formidable regional-final hurdle behind senior pitcher Sara Reid (28-5, 0.86 ERA, 278 strikeouts and just 21 walks). Reid and Lynx pitcher Ellie Flanagan (20-6, 1.51 ERA) shared Tri-Rivers West Division player-of-the-year honors. North Linn earned a sweep over Central City, 5-0 and 4-3, May 26.
No. 11 SIGOURNEY (23-5) at No. 7 TWIN CEDARS (25-3)
South Iowa Cedar League champion Sigourney is on an eight-game winning spree, and the presence of junior pitcher Carly Goodwin (16-3) gives the Savages a shot against anybody. Opponents are hitting just .102 against Goodwin, who has struck out 250 batters. She wasn’t in the circle in the teams’ June 4 meeting, an 11-2 Twin Cedars victory. Freshman Josephine Moore (7 HR, 29 RBIs) supplies the power for the Savages. Twin Cedars advanced with a 4-1 regional-semifinal win over Highland thanks to Grace Bailey’s two-hitter. Bailey is a force at the plate, too, hitting .564 with six home runs and 41 RBIs.
No. 12 Akron-Westfield (24-5) at No. 5 Remsen St. Mary’s (26-2)
No. 13 Exira-EHK (22-3) at No. 6 Southeast Warren (22-4)
Mason City Newman (24-9) at No. 4 Collins-Maxwell (23-2)
No. 10 Wayne (22-6) at No. 8 Martensdale-St. Marys (23-3)
Woodbine (21-6) at No. 2 Newell-Fonda (34-4)