Prep Softball

2 wins from 700, John Begley leads Linn-Mar softball into postseason play

Lions host Cedar Rapids Washington in a 5A regional quarterfinal

Linn-Mar softball coach John Begley points to the field during a game last year against Iowa City West. Begley needs two wins to reach 700 for his career. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Linn-Mar softball coach John Begley points to the field during a game last year against Iowa City West. Begley needs two wins to reach 700 for his career. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

John Begley is on the countdown to a milestone.

Question is, will it be the final countdown?

The softball coach at Linn-Mar, Begley needs two victories to reach the 700-win plateau for his career. He will pursue No. 699 when the Lions (21-19) host Cedar Rapids Washington (2-36) in a Class 5A regional quarterfinal Thursday.

First pitch is 7 p.m. at Oak Ridge Middle School.

“Every day, you try to win games,” said Begley, in his 24th season of a career that has taken him to five programs. “You try to get the team to improve and put them in position to win games.”

Begley, 71, coached two years at Cedar Rapids LaSalle (1994-95), then took a year off to be an assistant for John Olachnovitch at Linn-Mar.

“I missed being a head coach,” he said, so then it was on to Springville (1997-2001), Solon (2002-06), Jesup (2007-13) and Linn-Mar (2014-present).

He has taken seven teams to state, including a Class 2A championship at Solon in 2003. That was the first of four consecutive Spartans teams to reach Fort Dodge. He coached his granddaughter, pitcher Kelsey Lough, to two state appearances at Jesup, and has qualified once with Linn-Mar.

“You remember the players and the assistant coaches you’ve worked with,” he said. “There have been a lot of big moments — the championship in 2003, getting to coach my granddaughter. When I won my 500th game, she hit the game-winning home run.”

In an interview Tuesday, Begley was noncommital about his future.

“I don’t want to detract from anything,” he said. “I’ll wait until the season is over, then I’ll decide for sure.”

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Begley owns a career mark of 698-392, including 126-83 at Linn-Mar. For him to reach 700, the Lions will need to handle Washington on Thursday, then upset top-ranked Cedar Rapids Kennedy in the next round Saturday.

In other games Thursday involving Metro/Iowa City teams, Marion (17-16) hosts Clinton (2-28) and Iowa City Liberty (16-21) is at DeWitt Central (17-17) in Class 4A, and Iowa City West (17-23) plays at Dubuque Senior (17-20) in 5A. Everybody else opens in the regional-semifinal round Saturday.

Thursday's Class 5A regional quarterfinals

All games, 7 p.m.

Region 5

Marshalltown (2-31) at Waterloo West (9-29)

Region 6

Cedar Rapids Washington (2-36) at Linn-Mar (21-19)

Region 7

Iowa City West (17-23) at Dubuque Senior (17-20)

Thursday's Class 4A regional quarterfinals

All games, 7 p.m.

Region 5

Mount Pleasant (13-25) at Fairfield (16-23)

Washington (16-21) at Clear Creek-Amana (16-18)

Region 6

Keokuk (16-18) at Fort Madison (11-23)

Iowa City Liberty (16-21) at DeWitt Central (17-17)

Region 7

Maquoketa (4-21) at Dubuque Wahlert (17-20)

Clinton (2-28) at Marion (17-16)

Region 8

Waterloo East (7-31) at Mason City (10-22)

Decorah (9-19) at Center Point-Urbana (20-16)

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

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