Is it too early to declare today’s 5:30 p.m. doubleheader between Regina and Wilton a showdown with six more CVC games left for the Regals?
Why would this season be any different for the two old rivals?
The Regals and Beavers began the week tied atop the Cedar Valley Conference with 10-2 records with three games between them on tap during the week. The Regals won the first game Monday at Wilton, 4-1, as Regina ace Danny Pacha outdueled Wilton’s Cole Crawford with the help of three Wilton errors.
“That was two bulldogs going out there and fighting it out,” Regina coach Andy Gahan said. “We scored some runs late off of Crawford, who is their No. 1 guy. That was a huge game to win. If you win the first of three, it really helps put you in the driver’s seat a little bit.”
Regina (19-6 overall) likely will go with a combination of pitchers in tonight’s doubleheader, including Nate Streb, Duncan Villhauer and Ian Probst. Those three are a combined 7-2, according to Quikstatsiowa.com, and they have pitched most of the CVC games for the Regals.
The Regals have thrived with a deep bench and players willing to play whatever role is needed.
Seven players are hitting at least .300, led by Jake Lehman’s .416 average. Seven players have at least 12 RBIs, led by Lehman with 29 and Riley Dixon and Fritz Wagner with 26 apiece. Streb leads the team with 17 steals.
“That’s our philosophy,” Gahan said. “We need to be solid one through nine with 10, 12 guys. Our starting lineup seems to change every game with some rotational type things. The kids have responded well to that. The key for us has been consistency. We’ve had a multitude of athletes contribute to the team this year.”
Gahan remembers when he played at Regina that Wilton was the big rival in baseball. It seems like it’s always been that way.
“The community over there has embraced baseball as their sport, and year in and year out, it’s always fun to play them and have this type of atmosphere,” Gahan said. “It should be fun. We’ve got plenty of games left, but it would be a huge momentum swing for us to take two from them (tonight).”
* Softball statistical leaders: Our area has more than its share of talented softball players as evidenced by the impressive statistics they are compiling this summer.
As of Tuesday, 14 area players lead their conferences in one or more offensive categories and six are leaders in pitching categories.
Leading the way is Clear Creek Amana all-stater Fran Strub, who leads the WaMaC West in batting average (.606), doubles (17), triples (5) and stolen bases (27). Teammate Caitlin Wnek leads in homers (6). Solon’s Kara Misel leads the East division in RBIs (30) and homers (7); Taylor Nearad leads in batting average (.596); and Emily Bransky in steals (19). It’s no big mystery why each team leads its respective divisional race.
West High’s Mackenzie Laux leads the MVC Valley division in ERA (0.28) and opponent’s batting average (.116). Shelly Stumpff’s 36 RBIs lead the Valley division.
Interestingly, we have six players who lead their leagues in steals: Strub, Bransky, City’s Brie Hightshoe (23), West’s Tatum Klein (18), West Branch’s Jen Pohlman (33) and Highland’s Paige Wieland (25). All of those players are fast but also play for coaches who encourage the running game to one degree or another. Highland pretty much thrives on it.
* Baseball nominations: The Iowa Newspaper Association is taking nominations for its all-state baseball teams. We invite area coaches who would like to have their players nominated to give us a call or email information we can use to post the nomination. Email me at email@example.com.