Softball teams across the state turn their attention to the postseason this week as regional play opens in all five classes.
Before West High begins to focus on a regional title and a state tournament berth, the Women of Troy have a conference crown to claim.
Holding a one-game lead over Cedar Rapids Jefferson in the Mississippi Valley Conference Valley Division race, West High will try to wrap up a divisional title with a pair of conference doubleheaders this week before opening postseason play on Saturday.
West High (20-2 MVC) is set to host Linn-Mar on Monday and will travel to Cedar Rapids Washington on Wednesday to wrap up the regular season.
Cedar Rapids Jefferson (21-3 in MVC), which handed West High its only two MVC losses of the season, concludes its conference slate Monday at Waterloo West
“We have to take care of what we can take care of,” West High coach Justin Lutjen said last week. “We need to take care of our at-bats and clean it up a little defensively.”
Class 5A top-ranked West High snapped a three-game losing skid with a doubleheader sweep of Dubuque Hempstead on Thursday.
West High then went 3-1 over the weekend at its own Rick Doran Classic, the lone loss a 2-0 setback to second-ranked West Des Moines Valley on Friday.
The Women of Troy added wins over 4A No. 2 Oskaloosa, Lisbon and Mount Pleasant and enter the final week of the regular season having won five of six.
West High opens postseason play at home against the winner of Thursday’s game between Cedar Rapids Washington and City High.
The top seed in Class 5A Region 6, West High would host Tuesday’s title game with a win on Saturday.
“The kids look forward to playing at home,” Lutjen said. “I think that’s definitely an advantage not having to travel.”
With a win on Saturday West High would host the winner of Saturday’s other Region 6 semifinal between Cedar Falls and Ankeny at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
Second-seeded Ankeny (18-19) has lost 13 of its last 19 games entering the final week of the regular season while West High swept third seed Cedar Falls (11-20) in a doubleheader earlier this season by a combined score of 28-6.
“You have to be ready, you have to be expecting anything,” Lutjen said of the postseason. “You never really know what is going to happen you just have to play the hand you are dealt and get to work.”
• POSTSEASON SCHEDULE: Regional play begins in Class 1A and Class 2A on Monday.
Iowa Mennonite (1-16) will face HLV (12-11) in the opening round of Class 1A Region 4 play on Monday while Lone Tree (8-19) will travel to Springville (20-20) for a 1A Region 3 opener.
In Class 2A, West Branch (14-20) will host Lisbon (13-23) in a Region 6 opener on Monday with the winner traveling to No. 7 Wapello on Wednesday.
Regina and Highland will both open 2A regional play on Wednesday.
Top-ranked Highland (22-5) will host the winner of North Cedar and Tipton while No. 11 Regina (20-14) will host Columbus (10-8).
Class 3A begins regional play on Wednesday and Mid-Prairie and Solon will both host quarterfinals in Region 5.
Second-ranked Solon (35-3) will face Williamsburg (16-19) while No. 8 Mid-Prairie (21-12) will host Central Lee (11-18), with the winners meeting on Friday.
No. 9 West Liberty (20-9) will host West Burlington Notre Dame (22-13) on Wednesday in a Region 4 opener.
Clear Creek Amana (21-16) will open postseason play in Class 4A Region 5 on Thursday at Maquoketa (15-13).
• CONFERENCE TITLES: Solon and Mid-Prairie both wrapped up conference titles last week.
Solon finished unbeaten against divisional opponents while winning the WAMAC East Division with a 14-0 mark while Mid-Prairie claimed the River Valley Conference South Division crown.
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.