The Marion Indians are confident that they can compete with Independence.
After all, they pushed the Mustangs hard in a regional final last year before bowing out, 7-5. And they earned a Wamac Conference split way back on May 23, in the first week of the season.
“It’s going to be a battle,” Marion’s Cloee Kraft said about Saturday’s Class 4A regional semifinal — 7 p.m. at Independence. “It’s going to be a challenge, a close game.”
The 4A Region 5 bracket was billed as a balanced one, and the quarterfinal games supported that notion. Marion edged Clear Creek Amana, 3-2, and Iowa City Liberty downed Washington, 3-1.
Meanwhile, fifth-ranked Independence (28-11) and No. 11 Cedar Rapids Xavier (24-16) had first-round byes. Independence players had a front-row seat for Marion’s win over CCA.
“We weren’t looking past (CCA), but I know the kids were anxious to play Independence again,” Marion Coach Scott Fruehling said. “We know (Indee pitcher Mackenzie Hupke) is going to hit her spots well. She’ll throw the riseball well. We have to be disciplined at the plate.”
Liberty (20-21) is a young team, but don’t expect the Lightning to be frightened when they travel to Xavier. Liberty swept the Saints at Bob Erusha Field by verdicts of 8-4 and 11-10 on June 27.
Five Metro/Iowa City 5A teams begin play Saturday, led by Mississippi Valley Conference divisional champions Cedar Rapids Kennedy and Iowa City High.
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Led by pitchers Kaylin Kinney and Jayme Scheck, Kennedy (35-2) is a heavy favorite in its postseason opener at home against Waterloo West (6-31). The Cougars have won 15 straight games, allowing just four runs in that span.
No. 6 City High (32-7) won its first divisional title since 1998 and hosts Davenport West (18-20).
Elsewhere among Metro 5A teams, Cedar Rapids Prairie (28-11) hosts Dubuque Senior (10-26), Linn-Mar (24-13) is at No. 11 Dubuque Hempstead (31-7) and Cedar Rapids Jefferson (19-21) faces No. 7 Muscatine (30-7) on the road.
Regional finals are Tuesday in 4A and 5A.
Saturday's Class 5A regional semifinals
All games 7 p.m.
Waterloo West (6-31) at C.R. Kennedy (35-2)
Dubuque Senior (10-26) at C.R. Prairie (28-11)
Davenport West (18-20) at Iowa City High (32-7)
Linn-Mar (24-13) at Dubuque Hempstead (31-7)
Davenport North (12-19) at Ottumwa (31-7)
C.R. Jefferson (19-21) at Muscatine (30-7)
Saturday's Class 4A regional semifinals
All games 7 p.m.
Marion (22-17) at Independence (28-11)
Iowa City Liberty (20-21) at C.R. Xavier (24-16)
Western Dubuque (19-18) at West Delaware (28-10)
Dubuque Wahlert (22-19) at DeWitt Central (27-8)
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