Not to bring you down or anything, but the summer sports portion of summer is just about over.
If you want to enjoy a night at your local ballpark, the time is now. The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union softball regional tournaments get started Monday.
With that in mind, I’ve decided to give you a quick breakdown of the brackets involving N’West Iowa teams and some of my thoughts on how it might go.
Class 1A Region 1
The games involving N’West Iowa teams on Monday have Gehlen Catholic playing Whiting at Remsen St. Mary’s at 5:30 p.m. and 12th-ranked South O’Brien hosting a 7 p.m. game with Trinity Christian. Gehlen Catholic has not seen Whiting this year, but is definitely the favorite against the winless Warriors. A win there would pit Gehlen Catholic against either MMCRU or Harris-Lake Park. The Jays have played the Wolves twice and Harris-Lake Park has yet to score against Gehlen Catholic. The Jays took 3-0 and 10-0 decisions. Gehlen Catholic’s lone game against MMCRU was a 4-3 win for the Jays. Looming after that would be sixth-ranked Akron-Westfield. The Westerners beat the Jays 6-0 in the season opener, but needed extra innings to fend off Gehlen Catholic 6-5 the next time around.
The Wolverines and Tigers are on the other side of that bracket. Their regular season matchups came early, with South O’Brien winning 12-0 and 23-7. The potential second-round matchup would be either River Valley or Storm Lake St. Mary’s, most likely River Valley. South O’Brien hasn’t met either of those teams. The semifinal matchup would be on the road with the most likely opponent 14th-ranked Westwood. The Wolverines haven’t seen the Rebels. They have seen Akron-Westfield, falling 3-1 to the Westerners in the regular season.
Class 2A Region 4
First-round games involving N’West Iowa teams on Monday have Unity Christian playing MVAOCOU at Kingsley-Pierson High School at 5:30 p.m. and Western Christian hosting Lawton-Bronson in a 7 p.m. matchup.
The Knights are slight underdogs in the first round, but have enough offense to pull an upset. The second round gets much tougher as 11th-ranked Alta-Aurelia awaits. Cherokee and Woodbury Central are the other teams on that side of the bracket.
Western Christian would seem to be in a coin flip kind of matchup in round one, but the Wolfpack have faced a much tougher schedule than Lawton-Bronson. The winner of that game would get 12th-ranked West Sioux in round two. Another dangerous team on that side of the bracket is West Lyon. The Wildcats play Hinton in the second round. West Lyon has beaten Western Christian twice, but lost to West Sioux in the only matchup of those two teams this season.
Alta-Aurelia is technically the favorite here, but the health of West Sioux pitcher Erika McKenney will be a huge factor. She has been nursing a sore shoulder, but is a difference-maker when at full strength.
Class 2A Region 5
The first round matchup in Ocheyedan on Monday between Sibley-Ocheyedan and Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn should be fun. The Hawks did win the regular season matchup 9-5. The winner faces a daunting trip to sixth-ranked Central Springs in round two. The Panthers are far and away the favorite in the region. They are the only team with a winning record on that side of the bracket. In fact, the only other team over .500 in the whole region is Emmetsburg. The E’Hawks and Panthers would not meet until the regional final.
Class 3A Region 2
The games in Class 3A don’t get started until Wednesday.
Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley was the favorite to make it to state last year, but got upset by Spirit Lake. The Nighthawks might get a chance to avenge that loss, but that doesn’t make them the favorite in the region.
That would be third-ranked Humboldt, a team that hosts Sheldon in the opening round. The Wildcats have given up more than one run in a game only four times all season. Algona and Estherville Lincoln Central are the other teams on that side of the bracket. Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley doesn’t get a walk through in round one, facing a George-Little Rock/Central Lyon team it split with during the regular season. Spirit Lake plays Okoboji in round one before potentially hosting the Nighthawks or the Mustangs.
Class 3A Region 7
It doesn’t get more traditional than rivals Sioux Center and MOC-Floyd Valley playing in the opening round. That game will be in Sioux Center and is an even money proposition, but the winner will head into some unfamiliar territory. Treynor is ranked second and is hosting the second round tilt. The Cardinals likely will have no trouble in the first round against OA-BCIG. The Falcons are the only team in the entire region that doesn’t have at least 15 wins on the year.
The other side of the bracket features 15th-ranked Atlantic, Carroll Kuemper, Southeast Valley and Carroll. Treynor was the favorite here and has similar credentials to Humboldt. The Cardinals have pitched 14 shutouts this season, including a run of 10 in a row. The narrative may have changed a little on Tuesday when Treynor lost 18-11 at Atlantic, but neither team was showing their cards in that one.
I’ll go more in depth on the baseball tournaments next week, but here is a list of the games that will be played Saturday, July 13, involving N’West Iowa teams. Going only by record, the favorite in each game is listed in bold.
Class 2A District 1 at Orange City — Sioux Center vs. Western Christian; Sheldon vs. Unity Christian. Class 2A District 2 at Milford — Sibley-Ocheyedan vs. Okoboji. Class 1A District 1 at Akron — Trinity Christian vs. Gehlen Catholic; Central Lyon vs Akron-Westfield. Class 1A District 2 at Moville — Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn vs. MMCRU; South O’Brien vs. Woodbury Central. Class 1A District 2 at Remsen — George-Little Rock vs. Ridge View.