Hang in there. Stay close.
That’s the mantra for the Linn-Mar Lions as they prepare for their Class 5A regional-semifinal softball game Saturday at Cedar Rapids Kennedy.
“The pressure is on Kennedy,” Lions Coach John Begley said. “If we get good pitching and great defense ... if we can stay in the game, we’ve got a chance.”
Regional semifinals are statewide Saturday in 5A and 4A. All games start at 7 p.m., with winners moving on to Tuesday’s regional finals.
Linn-Mar (22-19) advanced with a 6-0 win over Cedar Rapids Washington on Thursday. It moved Begley’s career win total to 699 in 24 seasons. It will take an upset for him to get to 700; second-ranked Kennedy (33-5) swept the Lions on May 29, 6-1 and 5-0.
The Cougars have won 11 straight games, allowing just five runs in that span.
“We have to move the ball against them and take advantage of whatever opportunities we get,” Begley said.
One source of hope for the Lions, if they stay close: Kennedy is 2-5 in one-run games this season.
In other 5A games involving Metro/Iowa City teams, No. 4 Cedar Rapids Jefferson (32-8) hosts Waterloo West (10-29), and Iowa City High (22-18) is at No. 15 Cedar Rapids Prairie (28-12).
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Prairie handled City High on June 28, 6-3 and 13-9. Little Hawks Coach Jeff Koenig has watched video of the first game on multiple occasions.
“We weren’t nearly as aggressive as we normally are, and that wasn’t favorable,” he said. “We missed a lot of hittable pitches. And there were about three plays in the field that we didn’t make, that we’re capable of getting to.
“We’ve lost a little aggressiveness lately, and we need to get that back. If we trust our abilities, good things will happen.”
In Class 4A, 11th-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier (23-16) hosts Iowa City Liberty (18-23). Liberty earned its first postseason win in school history Thursday, outlasting DeWitt Central, 3-2, in 10 innings. Brylee Klosterman doubled home the go-ahead run.
Marion (18-16) is at Western Dubuque (20-13). The Indians held off Clinton, 12-11, Thursday behind three-hit efforts by Jordyn Dunn and Sydney Nielsen.
Independence has been the area’s top 4A team all season. Ranked No. 1 most of the summer, Indee slipped to No. 5 in the final ratings. The Mustangs (32-6) host Dubuque Wahlert (18-20).
Saturday's Class 5A regional semifinals
All games, 7 p.m.
Waterloo West (10-29) at Cedar Rapids Jefferson (32-8)
Cedar Falls (9-29) at West Des Moines Dowling (17-16)
Linn-Mar (22-19) at Cedar Rapids Kennedy (33-5)
Iowa City High (22-18) at Cedar Rapids Prairie (28-12)
Saturday's Class 4A regional semifinals
All games, 7 p.m.
Fairfield (17-23) at Oskaloosa (27-8)
Washington (17-21) at Newton (22-7)
Keokuk (17-18) at North Scott (25-13)
Iowa City Liberty (18-23) at Cedar Rapids Xavier (23-16)
Dubuque Wahlert (18-20) at Independence (32-6)
Marion (18-16) at Western Dubuque (20-13)
Mason City (11-22) at Charles City (31-5)
Center Point-Urbana (21-16) at Waverly-Shell Rock (21-15)
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