Postseason play is around the corner in the summer sports season, and we now take a look at one of the more interesting regions in softball involving area teams: Class 2A Region 3.
Three area teams are in this region, and all are in the bottom half. Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont, North Mahaska, and Pleasantville will be looking to beat up on each other and get to the regional final. This region is wide open, and with one upset, a team can put themselves in position for a shot at the state tournament in Fort Dodge.
Looking at the bracket, there is only one first round matchup, and that is between Ogden (14-12) and Belmond-Klemme (7-18). Ogden has the advantage in nearly every statistic and should be considered the favorite on their home field. That game is on July 5th at 7 PM in Ogden.
The winner of that game faces Eagle Grove (11-14) on the road. Eagle Grove has to feel good about getting a home game, as they are 2-5 in their last seven games, during which the pairings were released at the beginning of that stretch. Despite struggling to maintain any sort of consistency throughout the season, EG did beat Belmond-Klemme twice during North Iowa Conference play. If B-K falls as expected to Ogden, Eagle Grove absolutely needs to be on high alert because of Ogden’s high-powered offense. Ogden has caught fire at the same time EG has faltered, which makes this game very interesting record-wise. That contest will be July 6th at 7 PM in Eagle Grove.
In the other top-half quarterfinal, Van Meter (25-7) will face Fort Dodge St. Edmond (4-20) in Van Meter. The home of pitching legend Bob Feller received the top seed in this region, despite currently being ranked one spot behind Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont. While the seeding process can be hotly debated, there’s no doubt that Van Meter earned an easy first round draw in Region 3. St. Edmond simply has been outmatched in most of their games this season, but they do have pitchers who can get outs. The question is, can the defense convert the outs? That’s been the biggest struggle for this team this year.
While it seems obvious that Van Meter should skate through to the semifinals, their opponent in that round is a question mark. Whether it is Eagle Grove or Ogden, there are issues that Van Meter must combat, especially how well Ogden has played the last couple of weeks. If everything holds serve, Van Meter will be hosting the top-half semifinal on July 8th at 7 PM.
That action will be exciting, but the close-to-home bottom-half of this regional bracket should be every bit as interesting.
Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont (25-6) is currently ranked 8th in the state, the highest ranking of any team in this bracket. They draw North Mahaska (10-16), a young, up-and-coming team out of the South Iowa Cedar League. For the Warhawks, their best player is Emma Deucore, a freshman who can make a difference in the pitching circle and at the plate. EBF has a team that seems just too strong for the youthful optimism that resides in New Sharon, and that was proven early in the season when the Rockets stomped North Mahaska 14-1. A full month has passed since that game, but EBF has just gotten stronger, and that would be the likely outcome.
The other quarterfinal matchup in the bottom-half is Pleasantville (15-10) hosting Des Moines Christian (11-16). There’s more to know about DMC than Pleasantville, mainly due to their youth and difficult schedule. Being a small school in a large area, DMC has had a lot of tough opponents to break in a group led by mostly underclassmen. This schedule can be blamed for the bloated pitching numbers from the young hurlers that the Lions have sent to the rubber. Pleasantville is in the middle of an underrated Pride of Iowa Conference, and has been playing their best softball of late, challenging and defeating some of the top competition in the league. These two teams haven’t seen each other yet, but smart money would be on the Trojans and their more consistent performances in recent weeks.
That sets up a bottom-half semifinal on July 8th in Eddyville likely between the EBF Rockets and Pleasantville Trojans. While Pleasantville has been hot and is improving, their inexperience in the big games will hurt them against an Eddyville team looking to make it to state for the second time in three years. The Trojans didn’t see the Rockets in the regular season, but based on common opponents, it will take an extraordinary effort from their bats against EBF pitcher Randie Richmond and their pitcher, likely freshman Abby DeJoode, to pull an upset on the Rockets’ home field.
Then comes the Region 3 Final on Monday, July 11th at 7 PM. The site will be the highest remaining seed, with Van Meter the top seed and EBF the second seed. If those two teams hold serve, the Rockets will have to trek an hour and a half to face a formidable foe for a trip to state.
That game will likely be a barnburner, with the team who gets out to the lead the quickest getting a big edge.
We will be following Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont, North Mahaska, Pleasantville, and the rest of this bracket closely on radiokmzn.com. All EBF and/or North Mahaska games can be heard on the Mahaska Zone Network, either 99.5 FM/740 AM KMZN or 104.9 FM KBOE. Check the website for listings prior to the games, beginning next Wednesday with the quarterfinal round.
Big thanks to Tri-County Body Shop for their support of coverage of EBF Softball and this regional preview.