The championship bracket resumes at the state softball tournament with the semifinal round in all five classes today. The opener is in class 2A as top ranked Highland of Riverside plays fifth ranked Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont. Highland beat Saint Ansgar in the opening round but coach Carrie Wieland says her team needs to do a better job with runners in scoring position. “Get the bunt down, push the bunt, do those things, make them make the errors,”Wieland says.
Second ranked Earlham plays third ranked Woodbury Central in the other 2A semifinal. In class 1A, fourth ranked AGWSR plays Lansing Kee while top ranked and defending champ Akron-Westfield plays number-six Martensdale-St. Mary’s. In 4A, top ranked Dallas Center-Grimes takes a 39-1 record against Norwalk. DCG coach Steve Schlafke says as the defending champions his team has used a different approach. “Last year it was just trying to get here and win the thing, and we tried two years in a row and it finally happened. This year it’s good teams will win it and great teams will win it twice,” Schlafke says.
Number three Solon plays fourth ranked Carlisle in the other 4A semifinal. The Class 5A semifinals are an all Central Iowa Metro League affair. Second ranked Dowling Catholic will take on third ranked Southeast Polk. Dowling pitcher Claudia Farrell says the Maroons are the defending champs in name only as there are only 4 players back who played last year. Farrell says they get every team’s best shot as the defending champs and that is motivation.
Southeast Polk edged sixth ranked Cedar Rapids Jefferson in the opening round and coach Tia Stiles says a tough regular season schedule had them prepared for the tournament. Top ranked Johnston will play fifth ranked West Des Moines Valley in the other 5A semifinal.
In class 3A, second ranked East Marshall will take on ninth ranked and defending champ Bondurant-Farrar. After losing all three games at the tournament a year ago East Marshall opened with a victory over Mid-Prairie. “We talked about it in the offseason, we had a bad taste in our mouths,” East Marshall coach Jary Hoskey says. Bondurant-Farrar coach Roger Roland says his team feels no pressure as the defending champs. “We just come we enjoy, we have fun, we have great kids. If we win it, God is good. If we lose it, God is good, no matter what it is a game to us. We’re thrilled when we win, and if we lose, we go out and eat pizza,” Roland says.
Third ranked Clarke plays Greene County in the other 3A semifinal. After finishing as the runner-up a year ago the Lady Indians are motivated to take the next step. “Most of the season we just wanted to get to state because we have six seniors…now that we are here, we just want to put runs on the board. We want Friday to get here,” according to senior outfielder Carley Robbins.
Clarke coach Lindsay Diehl admits the lofty goals for this year added pressure and they had to regroup halfway through the season as she said they had to talk about playing for today instead of thinking ahead to Fort Dodge. Now she says they can think about doing the work to win in the tournament.