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Wednesday’s best: 5 area Iowa high school softball regional games to watch

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Ellie Flanagan and North Linn begin pursuit of another state championship — they have won two in the last three years — with a Class 1A regional quarterfinal Wednesday at home against East Buchanan. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Osceola to Williamsburg: 137 miles (2 hours).

Iowa Falls to Mount Vernon: 123 miles (1 hour, 55 minutes).

State Center to West Liberty: 122 miles (1 hour, 54 minutes).

The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union successfully split the top-eight teams in Class 3A (in terms of rankings). The byproduct is some very long trips to some teams that face some very long odds in the first round.

Mount Vernon, Williamsburg and West Liberty are among the trop five teams, and all are expected to roll Wednesday as the 3A regional trek begins.

Here are five of the area’s best matchups for 3A, 2A and 1A regional quarterfinals; all games Wednesday begin at 7 p.m.

Vinton-Shellsburg (14-22) at Center Point-Urbana (16-18)

Class 3A Region 6

CPU swept a doubleheader by verdicts of 10-0 and 9-6 on June 22 and has dark-horse capability in this region. The Stormin’ Pointers finished 11-11 in the rugged Wamac and has victories over top-five teams like Williamsburg, Clear Creek Amana and Iowa City Regina. Even more good news for the Stormin’ Pointers: Much of the roster is young. That includes freshman Mya Hillers (.416, seven home runs, 36 runs, 37 RBIs) and soph Sophie Simon (.359, 34 RBIs). Junior Sophia Kreutner is Vinton-Shellsburg’s big bat at an even .500 with 44 runs and 19 stolen bases.

Belle Plaine (14-12) at Springville (21-13)

Class 1A Region 6

Springville very nearly was a first-round upset victim; the Orioles held on by their knuckles to top BGM, 7-6. They’ll need to be sharper in Round 2 against a quality Belle Plaine outfit that blanked Iowa Valley, 5-0, behind Breanna Cook’s nine-strikeout one-hitter. The teams played June 4, with the Orioles prevailing, 3-1. Springville’s Morgan Nachazel is putting the final touches on a stellar all-around high school career. She is hitting .344 with five home runs and 28 RBIs. Say the same for Belle Plaine’s Olivia Bohlen (.382, 34 runs).

Lansing Kee (17-14) at Central City (32-7)

Class 1A Region 7

In Sara Reid, 15th-ranked Central City has a pitcher that will keep it in the game, against anybody. The senior is 26-5 this season with a 0.81 ERA and 255 strikeouts (against 20 walks) in 164 2/3 innings. All four of the Wildcats’ Tri-Rivers losses came against No. 1 North Linn and No. 3 Lisbon, all were competitive, and there’s a good chance they will get another crack at North Linn in the regional finals. Upper Iowa Conference co-champion Kee is a tradition-rich program led by senior Reagan Mudderman both at the plate (.524, 7 HRs, 53 runs) and in the circle (10-8, 3.02 ERA).

East Buchanan (14-13) at North Linn (29-8)

Class 1A Region 7

Last year’s Class 2A state champion, No. 1 North Linn begins its quest to do it again, this time in 1A. The Lynx are Tri-Rivers Conference West Division champions, but have shown a bit of vulnerability lately, particularly at the plate. The top four hitters — Skylar Benesh, Jill Smith, Jenna Lemley and Ellie Flanagan — all have long-ball capability and have combined for 24 home runs. The Lynx took two from East Buchanan, 12-0 and 8-3, on June 9, but the Bucs have made a lot of progress since then, winning 11 of their last 12, including a 12-0 rout of Dunkerton in Round 1.

English Valleys (15-9) at Highland (20-8)

Class 1A Region 8

Highland has won four straight games, scoring 43 runs in the process. That includes a 13-1 romp over Hillcrest Academy to kick off postseason play. Sophomore Sarah Burton is a headache for opponents at the plate (.489, 17 extra-base hits) and on the bases (45 runs, 35 stolen bases). English Valleys cleared a tough hurdle in its first-round game, 5-2 over North Mahaska on the road. Gwen Mews hits .514 for the Bears, while soph Kennedy Axmear is at .394 and has struck out 169 batters.

Wednesday’s complete area regional schedule

CLASS 3A REGIONAL QUARTERFINALS

(7 p.m. unless noted)

Region 3

Iowa Falls-Alden (7-16) at Mount Vernon (30-4)

Clarion CGD (5-18) at Hampton-Dumont/CAL (6-17)

Forest City (6-13) at Algona (9-16)

Clear Lake (8-13) at Garner GHV (7-15)

Region 4

Clarke (5-17) at Williamsburg (29-10)

Mid-Prairie (16-12) at Chariton (19-5)

Shenandoah (13-18) at Atlantic (21-14)

Red Oak (0-24) at Clarinda (13-17)

Region 5

West Marshall (12-19) at West Liberty (20-7)

Grinnell (11-16) at Monroe PCM (16-11)

Nevada (7-18) at Roland-Story (19-9)

Ballard (13-20) at Des Moines Christian (14-16)

Region 6

Anamosa (14-17) at Davenport Assumption (29-8)

Union Community (7-17) at Independence (10-23)

Oelwein (8-17) at Sumner-Fredericksburg (21-5)

Vinton-Shellsburg (14-22) at Center Point-Urbana (16-18)

Region 7

West Delaware (6-26) at Northeast (21-10)

Monticello (8-18) at North Fayette Valley (14-14)

New Hampton (9-15) at Crestwood (12-9)

Waukon (8-15) at Dubuque Wahlert (20-16), 5 p.m.

Region 8

Washington (13-23) at West Burlington (23-7)

Columbus Community (12-12) at Central Lee (17-7)

Centerville (3-18) at Davis County (20-8)

Eddyville EBF (16-15) at Albia (19-6)

CLASS 2A REGIONAL QUARTERFINALS

(All games 7 p.m.)

Region 6

Denver (13-17) at Iowa City Regina (18-11)

Alburnett (17-16) at Waterloo Columbus (24-10)

Wapsie Valley (13-12) at East Marshall (23-7)

Jesup (19-11) at Dike-New Hartford (20-7)

Region 7

Camanche (8-16) at Louisa-Muscatine (22-8)

Pekin (7-14) at Van Buren County (11-11)

Mediapolis (6-16) at Cardinal (20-12)

North Cedar (7-17) at Durant (14-18)

Region 8

Bellevue (4-20) at Wilton (23-6)

Dyersville Beckman (7-23) at Maquoketa Valley (6-19)

MFL MarMac (9-25) at Cascade (17-11)

Clayton Ridge (7-21) at South Winneshiek (12-16)

CLASS 1A REGIONAL QUARTERFINALS

(All games 7 p.m.)

Region 6

Montezuma (10-16) at Lisbon (32-4)

Belle Plaine (14-12) at Springville (21-13)

Janesville (6-19) at Clarksville (17-2)

Lynnville-Sully (14-18) at Conrad BCLUW (15-14)

Region 7

East Buchanan (14-13) at North Linn (29-8)

Turkey Valley (18-7) at Don Bosco (14-7)

Lansing Kee (17-14) at Central City (32-7)

Edgewood-Colesburg (16-17) at Calamus-Wheatland (16-16)

Region 8

Tri-County (14-13) at Twin Cedars (23-3)

English Valleys (15-9) at Highland (20-8)

Fort Madison Holy Trinity (10-10) at Sigourney (21-5)

Lone Tree (13-13) at Wapello (15-11)

Comments: jeff.linder@thegazette.com



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