Three Iowa Conference softball teams open NCAA regional action on Friday. In Pella, Central College will host a regional that includes Iowa Conference Tournament champion Luther, North Central of Illinois and Washington University of St. Louis.
Central coach George Wares believes any of the 4 could win the tournament, or lose early and come back and win in the losers bracket. The Tournament is operating under a new format that will find the winners of the regional tournaments advancing to a best of three super regional. “Obviously it’s a copy of the Division I format, so I think the fans are still going to see some great softball, just fewer games. And then the 2 out of 3 super regional is going to be exciting,” Wares says.
Wares says the key in a regional is to pitch, bit and play defense while also getting lucky at times. Central will take on North Central in the opening round while Luther plays Washington University. Luther coach Renae Hartl says they last time they played was in the opening round of the 2009 regional and they split those games. All four teams in the field are tournament regulars.
Iowa Conference regular season champion Coe hosts a regional that includes St. Scholastica, St. Thomas of Minnesota and Augustana of Illinois. Kohawk coach Bob Timmons is a fan of the fomat change. “I think it’s a true way of finding the top 8 teams for the World Series,” Timmons says. He says the regionals are so tough to come out of that this is the best way to do it.
Timmons says there are always a lot of close games in a tournament like this and defense can be the difference. Coe plays St. Scholastica in the opening round.
Darin Svenson, KDEC, Decorah contributed to this story.