A glance at regional-final softball games throughout the area:
CEDAR RAPIDS JEFFERSON vs. WEST DES MOINES DOWLING
Class 4A Region 2
Site & time: 7 p.m. Thursday, at Marshalltown
Records & rankings: No. 7 Jefferson is 32-7; Dowling (21-16) is unranked.
Notable: Jefferson fell short of the state tournament last year for the first time since 2001, and the J-Hawks have been quietly steady all season in winning the MVC Valley Division title. Kaitlyn Davidson hit a tie-breaking RBI single in the fifth inning as the J-Hawks fought past Waterloo East, 7-4, in the regional semifinals. Leadoff hitter Rachel Sedlacek leads the team in hitting (.447), runs (49), doubles (12) and home runs (11). Dowling has been uncharacteristically up and down this season; the Maroons have lost three or more straight games on three occasions. Demi Plathe leads the team with a .455 average. Dowling edged Marshalltown, 3-2, in 16 innings Wednesday.
IOWA CITY WEST vs. DES MOINES LINCOLN
Class 4A Region 4
Site & time: 7 p.m. Wednesday, at West
Records & rankings: West (32-9) is ranked fifth; Lincoln (28-12) is unrated.
Notable: It’s been a spectacular year for girls’ athletics at West, which won the state volleyball title and finished second in basketball and third in track. Now the Women of Troy try to put an exclamation point on 2010-11 by making it to state softball for the first time in school history. West got successive two-run hits by Brianna Sturtz (single), Alise Miller (double) and Shelly Stumpff (home run) in a six-run fifth inning as it upended Cedar Rapids Xavier, 7-1, Monday. Six West players are batting .350 or better, led by Tatum Klein (.475). Lincoln scored four times in the top of the eighth inning Monday to get past Newton, 7-3. The Railsplitters have won eight straight games, including wins over top-10 Des Moines East and Ankeny.
DECORAH vs. WEST DELAWARE
Class 3A Region 4
Site & time: 7 p.m. Wednesday, at Cedar Falls
Records & rankings: West Delaware (35-7) is rated ninth; Decorah (23-14) is unranked.
Notable: Decorah put a minor jolt into this region by knocking off No. 7 Charles City, 2-1, in the regional semifinals Monday after falling to the Comets three times in Northeast Iowa Conference play. Savanna Klimesch pitched a one-hitter. The Vikings are as balanced as they come; seven batters are hitting between .315 and .368. Moran Lonning is one of the area’s best four-sport athletes. West Delaware hammered Independence, 10-4, in the regional semis, the Hawks’ 10th consecutive victory. Eighth-grader Emily Thole leads the Hawks in hitting at .458. Jenna Hermsen is batting .411 and sports a 20-3 pitching mark.
MOUNT VERNON vs. SOLON
Class 3A Region 5
Site & time: 7 p.m. Wednesday, at Solon
Records & rankings: Mount Vernon (34-6) is ranked 13th; Solon (32-7) is No. 4.
Notable: The Highway 1 rivalry takes a softball theme Wednesday. The Mustangs and the Spartans split in their Wamac East double-header early in the season. Mount Vernon is seeking its third straight state berth while Solon tries to advance for the first time since its six-year run of 2003-08 that produced two championships. The Spartans have made vast progress in Ben Sorden’s first season; they were 18-14 last year, and are doing it with a large number of underclassmen. Five players are hitting .438 or better, led by Alyssa Rickels at .485. Arran Weeces is 13-1 in the pitching circle. Mount Vernon brings a 15-game win streak into the contest. Kari Martin is hitting .473 with 16 doubles and eight home runs. Whenever the Mustangs’ run ends, it brings down the curtain on a senior class that has won a combined five state titles in volleyball, basketball and track. Sarah Ryan, Kylea Weber and Micah Wieditz have been major factors in that success.
CLEAR CREEK AMANA vs. PELLA
Class 3A Region 6
Site & time: 7 p.m. Thursday, at Oxford
Records & rankings: No. 2 CCA is 39-2; Pella (20-7) is unrated.
Notable: No school in Iowa screams softball like Clear Creek Amana, and the Clippers are heavily favored to reach state for the 32nd time. CCA has the state’s best 1-2 hitting punch in juniors Fran Strub (.651, 78 runs, 51 RBIs) and Caitlin Wnek (.624, 57 runs, 75 RBIs). They’re the cornerstones of an offense that scored 9.6 runs per game. Mariah McKinnon is 23-1 as a pitcher; Maliah Fligg is 15-1. The Clippers’ losses this season have come against Chariton and Solon. Whitney Williams leads a veteran Pella squad that won the Little Hawkeye Conference title; she’s hitting .511 with 45 stolen bases.
MONTICELLO vs. IOWA CITY REGINA
Class 2A Region 4
Site & time: 7 p.m. Wednesday, at Regina
Records & rankings: Regina (25-13) is ranked 11th; Monticello (27-12) is unrated.
Notable: Fresh off a convincing 6-2 win over No. 6 Wilton in the regional semifinals, Monticello goes after another Cedar Valley Conference heavyweight and its first state-tournament appearance. The Panthers are champions of the Tri-Rivers Conference. They’re led by Kelsie Etten, who is batting .429 with 38 runs and 35 RBIs. Regina has advanced with wins over North Iowa Cedar League teams Jesup and Denver. Julia Hunter’s fourth-inning home run allowed the Regals to erase a 2-0 deficit against Denver, then Regina pulled away from there for its eighth straight win. Hunter is batting .505 with 38 runs, 38 RBIs and 22 extra-base hits.
MID-PRAIRIE vs. DURANT
Class 2A Region 5
Site & time: 7 p.m. Wednesday, at Durant
Records & rankings: Durant (30-8) is rated No. 1; Mid-Prairie (22-18) is unranked.
Notable: Never, ever underestimate Mid-Prairie in the postseason. This appears to be a challenge that’s right in the Golden Hawks’ wheelhouse. Mid-Prairie is seeking its fifth state appearance in the last seven years. It crawled out of a 4-0 first-inning hole to knock out No. 9 Mediapolis, 7-5, in the regional semifinals behind Hannah Miller’s three hits. The teams split in the regular season as Durant claimed the Cedar Valley Conference crown at 12-2 (Mid-Prairie was fourth at 8-6). Durant’s Allison Ralfs is batting .500 with 40 RBIs. The Wildcats have made one trip to state, in 2007.
HIGHLAND vs. DES MOINES CHRISTIAN
Class 1A Region 4
Site & time: 7 p.m. Wednesday, at Grinnell
Records & rankings: Des Moines Christian (25-6) is ranked 13th; Highland (25-13) is unrated.
Notable: Highland has recovered from a mid-June swoon in which it dropped eight of 11 games. The Huskies are extremely tough when Mariah Freel is on the mound — the junior is 18-2 with 116 strikeouts — and they have allowed only four runs in three regional games. Des Moines Christian has been living dangerously in the postseason, winning games by scores of 4-3, 6-4 and 2-1. Coincidentally, both teams have made two state appearances, in 2007 and 2008. Highland won the ’07 1A championship.
Cedar Rapids Jefferson, Clear Creek Amana, Decorah, Des Moines Christian, Des Moines Lincoln, Durant, Highland, Iowa City Regina, Iowa City West, Marshalltown, Mid-Prairie, Monticello, Mount Vernon, Pella, regional finals, Softball, Solon, Vinton-Shellsburg, West Delaware, West Des Moines Dowling