Prep Softball

Iowa high school softball preseason rankings: 4 defending champions start at No. 1

Preseason leaders are Pleasant Valley, Winterset, Assumption, Durant and Kee

Lansing Kee’s Kendra Cooper (10) delivers a pitch at the state softball tournament last year. Cooper returns for the defending-champion Hawks, who open the season ranked No. 1 in Class 1A. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Lansing Kee’s Kendra Cooper (10) delivers a pitch at the state softball tournament last year. Cooper returns for the defending-champion Hawks, who open the season ranked No. 1 in Class 1A. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

Four defending state champions, including the two-time Class 1A queens from Lansing Kee, are the top-rated teams in the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union’s first softball rankings, released Wednesday.

Kee was 38-2 last season and outscored their three state-tournament opponents by a combined margin of 33-5. The Hawks return six starters, including first-team all-state pitcher Kendra Cooper.

The other No. 1 teams are Pleasant Valley (Class 5A), Winterset (4A), Davenport Assumption (3A) and Durant (2A). Pleasant Valley, Winterset and Assumption are coming off state titles last year, and Durant was third in 2A.

Pleasant Valley is followed by Indianola, Cedar Rapids Kennedy and Cedar Rapids Jefferson.

Kennedy (37-8 in 2017) was third at last year’s state tournament, its best finish in school history. Jefferson (39-6) was seventh and set a state record with 67 home runs, that includes a state-leading 19 by Lindsey Culver, who also knocked in a state-high 71 runs. She returns.

Fourth at state last year, Charles City is Winterset’s closest challenger in 4A. Independence is third, followed by Carlisle and Denison-Schleswig. Assumption carries a 44-game winning streak and is followed in 3A by Albia (which the Knights beat in the state final), then Dyersville Beckman, Waterloo Columbus and Humboldt.

After Durant, it’s Logan-Magnolia, Central Springs, Des Moines Christian and IKM-Manning in 2A. Defending-champ Iowa City Regina is seventh.

Last year’s 1A runner-up, Clarksville is right behind Kee, then it’s Martensdale-St. Marys, Akron-Westfield and Collins-Maxwell.

The rankings:

Class 5A

1. Pleasant Valley (35-8)

2. Indianola (34-7)

3. Cedar Rapids Kennedy (37-8)

4. Cedar Rapids Jefferson (39-6)

5. West Des Moines Valley (40-5)

6. Johnston (36-5)

7. Dubuque Hempstead (24-18)

8. Waukee (40-4)

9. Urbandale (32-10)

10. West Des Moines Dowling (31-13)

11. Linn-Mar (27-15)

12. Muscatine (24-14)

13. Iowa City High (20-21)

14. Bettendorf (28-12)

15. Ankeny (21-21)

Class 4A

1. Winterset (35-7)

2. Charles City (33-8)

3. Independence (26-14)

4. Carlisle (28-15)

5. Denison-Schleswig (29-7)

6. Ballard (35-6)

7. Oskaloosa (31-13)

8. Lewis Central (31-10)

9. Sergeant Bluff-Luton (28-13)

10. Cedar Rapids Xavier (23-18)

11. Western Dubuque (22-14)

12. Dallas Center-Grimes (23-18)

13. North Scott (23-19)

14. Boone (26-11)

15. Waverly-Shell Rock (23-18)

Class 3A

1. Davenport Assumption (44-1)

2. Albia (30-9)

3. Dyersville Beckman (30-12)

4. Waterloo Columbus (35-7)

5. Humboldt (35-5)

6. Spirit Lake (26-9)

7. North Polk (18-13)

8. Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley (32-5)

9. Atlantic (32-9)

10. Crestwood (24-8)

11. West Marshall (34-8)

12. Sioux Center (24-8)

13. Camanche (17-15)

14. Roland-Story (17-16)

15. Mount Vernon (29-17)

Class 2A

1. Durant (33-8)

2. Logan-Magnolia (32-5)

3. Central Springs (31-5)

4. Des Moines Christian (19-13)

5. IKM-Manning (22-7)

6. West Sioux (24-8)

7. Iowa City Regina (30-11)

8. Alta-Aurelia (27-6)

9. Jesup (23-10)

10. Treynor (26-8)

11. East Marshall (17-18)

12. Louisa-Muscatine (27-6)

13. Earlham (29-7)

14. North Linn (26-14)

15. Highland (21-8)

Class 1A

1. Lansing Kee (38-2)

2. Clarksville (29-3)

3. Martensdale-St. Marys (32-4)

4. Akron-Westfield (37-3)

5. Collins-Maxwell (26-6 as CMB)

6. North Union (30-9)

7. Westwood (31-11)

8. Belle Plaine (24-8)

9. Newell-Fonda (27-11)

10. Sigourney (22-12)

11. Montezuma (19-5)

12. Woodbury Central (24-11)

13. Lisbon (29-12)

14. Ackley AGWSR (26-13)

15. Murray (28-6)

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State tournament format change

The Girls’ Union has made fairly significant changes to the format of this year’s state tournament, scheduled for July 16-20 at the Rogers Sports Complex, Fort Dodge.

Fifth- and seventh-place games have been eliminated. Now, first-round losers will play one consolation game.

All semifinals will be played on Wednesday, with championship games Thursday (1A and 2A) and Friday (3A, 4A and 5A).

The schedule:

Monday, July 16

1A quarterfinals — 11 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 1:30 p.m.

2A quarterfinals — 3 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 5 p.m., 5:30 p.m.

3A quarterfinals — 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, July 17

1A consolations — 11 a.m., 11:30 a.m.

2A consolations — 1 p.m., 1:30 p.m.

3A consolation — 3 p.m.

3A quarterfinals — 11 a.m., 11:30 a.m.

4A quarterfinals — 1 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m., 3:30 p.m.

5A quarterfinals — 5 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, July 18

3A consolation — 11 a.m.

4A consolations — 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m.

5A consolations — 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m.

1A semifinals — 11 a.m., 1 p.m.

2A semifinals — 3 p.m., 5 p.m.

3A semifinals — 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m.

4A semifinals — 3:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.

5A semifinals — 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, July 19

1A 3rd-place — 5 p.m.

1A championship — 6 p.m.

2A 3rd-place — 7 p.m.

2A championship — 8:15 p.m.

Friday, July 20

3A 3rd-place — 2:30 p.m.

3A championship — 3:30 p.m.

4A 3rd-place — 4:45 p.m.

4A championship — 5:45 p.m.

5A 3rd-place — 7 p.m.

5A championship — 8 p.m.

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

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