116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
They couldn’t be more even.
If you judge by records or by not-so-long-ago results, Saturday’s Class 5A softball regional semifinal between Linn-Mar and 14th-ranked Cedar Rapids Prairie is an absolute coinflip.
“I think so,” Prairie Coach Alisha Frese said. “It should be a great game.”
Prairie (27-13) edged Linn-Mar (25-11) by one game — 21-9 to 20-10 — in the Mississippi Valley Conference standings. When they met in a regular-season matchup July 2, they traded a pair of 5-4 verdicts.
If you want to give Linn-Mar a slight edge, you can base it on the fact that the Lions didn’t use their top pitcher, Jordyn Beck (13-3, 0.89 ERA), that night.
On the other hand:
“I think we do better against No. 1 pitchers,” Frese said. “I feel that’s when we hit best.”
Seven Metro/Iowa City teams will be in action in Saturday’s round.
Also in 5A, No. 8 Cedar Rapids Kennedy (26-9) — the defending big-school state champion, hosts surging Cedar Falls (24-16), Cedar Rapids Jefferson (25-14) visits No. 11 Iowa City Liberty (24-15) and No. 6 Iowa City High (31-7) welcomes Marshalltown (6-29).
In Class 4A, No. 10 Marion (25-11) hosts North Scott (16-20).
Winners advance to Tuesday’s regional finals.
When the teams last met, Linn-Mar won the first game in 10 innings. In the finale, the Lions rallied from a 3-0 deficit with four runs in the top of the seventh, only to have Prairie win it in the bottom of the seventh on back-to-back RBI doubles by Riley Sauser and Rylee Newhard.
Jefferson and Liberty appear to be similarly well matched.
“We have to do the little things well,” Jefferson Coach Mike Kuba said. “We can’t afford to bring our A game. We have to bring our A-plus game.”
The J-Hawks have bounced back well this season after back-to-back losing campaigns in 2019 and 2020.
“It starts with our pitching,” Kuba said. “And we’ve put it together with our hitting. We’re playing tough, and we’re playing together well. We’ve had two nice runs this season, including one to end the season.”
The J-Hawks and the Lightning split a doubleheader June 23.
Saturday’s Class 5A regional semifinals
(All games, 7 p.m.)
Cedar Falls (24-16) at Cedar Rapids Kennedy (26-9)
Cedar Rapids Jefferson (25-14) at Iowa City Liberty (24-15)
Marshalltown (6-29) at Iowa City High (31-7)
Linn-Mar (25-11) at Cedar Rapids Prairie (27-13)
Saturday’s Class 4A regional semifinals
(All games, 7 p.m.)
Oskaloosa (20-14) at Norwalk (23-14)
Burlington (21-13) at Benton Community (21-18)
Decorah (18-7) at Western Dubuque (30-7)
Charles City (24-11) at West Delaware (27-9)
DeWitt Central (12-25) at Clear Creek Amana (27-9)
North Scott (16-20) at Marion (25-11)