We’re deep into July. It’s the postseason. So it’s another softball reunion between Benton Community and Solon.
For the third straight summer — and the fourth time in six years — the Bobcats and the Spartans square off in a win-or-else scenario.
“We’ve been in each other’s path a few times,” Bobcats Coach Eric Stenberg said. “We’re familiar with them; they’re familiar with us. I imagine our girls are ready to play, and I’m sure Solon will be.”
Benton (14-8) earned a regular-season sweep from the Spartans (20-13) by verdicts of 15-11 and 7-6 on July 6 at Solon. The rematch, a Class 3A regional semifinal, is 7 p.m. Friday at Solon.
“We hit the ball well last time we played,” Stenberg said. “I think if we continue to keep hitting, obviously, we’ll be successful.”
Solon ousted Benton in last year’s regional semifinals, 5-0. The Bobcats earned a 4-2 regional-final win in 2018. The biggie was in 2015, when the Spartans prevailed, 3-1, in the state final.
Friday’s slate of 3A, 2A and 1A regional semifinals will be finalized after a handful of regional quarterfinals — postponed Wednesday due to rain — are completed Thursday.
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Benton has scored 87 runs in a seven-game winning streak, including a 15-2, three-inning romp over Iowa Falls-Alden on Wednesday. Junior Alyse Harvey is hitting .526 with 21 runs and 23 RBIs. Freshman Hilary Wilson (35) leads a pack of four Spartans with 30 RBIs or more. Solon is hitting .410 as a team.
All of the ranked area teams remain alive, with one exception. Cascade pulled a 2A surprise Wednesday, knocking off No. 7 Jesup, 3-2.
“Oh, gosh, it was so exciting,” Cougars Coach Sonya McCormick said. “My heart was beating out of my chest. We got on top right away. Throughout the year, we had struggled in staying in the game the whole way. We have eight juniors, and only one of them played varsity last year.
“But (Wednesday), we got it done.”
The Cougars (6-8) return to Jesup on Friday to face Iowa City Regina (7-13) or Alburnett (7-11).
“We’re starting to get that killer mindset,” said McCormick, a first-year head coach who graduated from Monticello in 2016 and played college ball at Viterbo University. “The girls have realized how much they want it.”
Cascade’s prolonged postseason presence is a surprise. Starmont’s is a shock. Winners of one regular-season game, the Stars have won twice in the tournament series and take a 3-11 mark into their 1A contest at No. 3 Clarksville (14-1).
Friday’s Class 3A regional semifinals
(All games, 7 p.m.)
Roland-Story (9-10) at Williamsburg (21-4)
Benton Community (14-8) at Solon (20-13)
Independence (11-13) at Mount Vernon (18-4)
Sumner-Fredericksburg (9-7) at Anamosa (12-1)
Columbus Community (3-7)/Davenport Assumption (15-5) vs. Mid-Prairie (2-11), at Assumption
Central Lee (9-10)/West Burlington (14-3) vs. Camanche (6-7)/West Liberty (13-1), at West Liberty
Friday’s Class 2A regional semifinals
(All games, 7 p.m.)
Hudson (8-7) at North Linn (21-0)
West Fork (4-10) at Waterloo Columbus (8-5)
Dyersville Beckman (7-13) at Northeast (17-2)
Alburnett (8-11)/Iowa City Regina (8-13) vs. Cascade (6-8), at Jesup
Louisa-Muscatine (16-4)/Van Buren County (9-7) vs. West Branch (7-8), at Letts
Durant (11-4)/Wapello (11-5) vs. Mediapolis (5-11)/Wilton (13-3), at Wilton
Friday’s Class 1A regional semifinals
(7 p.m. unless noted)
Algona Garrigan (11-6) vs. Saint Ansgar (10-6), at Algona H.S., 5 p.m.
Lansing Kee (9-6) at Mason City Newman (17-2)
Sigourney (15-4)/English Valleys (11-5) at Lynnville-Sully (16-2)
North Mahaska (10-7) vs. New London (8-6)/Winfield-Mount Union (8-4), at Winfield
Starmont (3-11) at Clarksville (14-1)
Janesville (9-7) at Ackley AGWSR (9-4)
Lone Tree (6-9) at Lisbon (18-3)
Easton Valley (2-7)/Bellevue Marquette (9-4) at Central City (10-4)
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