Coach: Jeff Koenig (6th season)
Assistant coaches: Peyton Koenig,
Last season: 36-8, 27-3 MVC (Class 5A State Semifinals)
Returning starters: Ayana Lindsey, Jr., P/SS; Ella Cook, Jr., P/1B; Carey Koenig, Jr., C/3B; Sydney Fellows, Sr., LF; Keli Potter, Sr., 2B/C; Brooke Bormann, Sr., SS/1B; Makayla Ribble, Soph., 3B
Other returning letterwinners: Maggie Glenn, Sr., P; Libby Frantz, Soph., OF; Georgia Kimm, Soph., OF; Mia McDonald, Jr., UTIL; Payton Naeve, Soph. OF.
Newcomers to watch: Elyse Rios, Soph., OF; Lauryn Varo, Jr., INF.; Anna Knoche, Jr., UTIL
Headliner: Junior Ayana Lindsey is a Northwestern recruit that ranks as one of the best all-around players in the state. Lindsey hit .463 with 18 home runs, 36 RBI and 73 runs scored a year ago and also posted a 21-4 record and 1.33 ERA in the circle while striking out 172 in 162 2/3 innings.
Keep an eye on: Drake recruit Carey Koenig just keeps getting better. The junior catcher hammered a career-high 13 home runs and 54 RBI last season while leading City High with a .466 batting average.
Circle the date: June 19 vs. Cedar Rapids Kennedy. One of the best matchups in the state in the shortened season comes early as preseason second-ranked City High hosts the fourth-ranked Cougars in a rematch of last year’s state quarterfinal won by City High.
Breakdown: City High has taken a significant step each of the past two seasons. In 2018 the Little Hawks returned to the state tournament for the first time since 2001 and last season City High won an MVC divisional title before placing third at the 5A state tournament.
The next step for the Little Hawks is a big one, a state title and all the pieces appear to be in place to make a run at it.
A loaded City High lineup from a year ago returns nearly entire intact with seven full-time starters that accounted for 53 home runs last season back.
Each of the seven returning starters hit over .271 last season a list that is led by first-team all-state picks Koenig and Lindsey.
There is plenty of firepower up and down the lineup with seniors Sydney Fellows (.385 BA, 4 HR), Keli Potter (.301, 6 HR) and Brooke Bormann (.346 BA, 25 RBI) all returning.
Junior Ella Cook combines with Lindsey to give City High one of the top pitching duos in the state after going 14-4 with a 2.41 ERA in 104 2/3 innings last season while also hitting .348 with five home runs and 41 RBI.
Sophomore Makayla Ribble (.271) slugged six home runs a year ago and Solon transfer Elyse Rios could help man one of the outfield spots.
Coach: Barb Lynn (3rd season)
Assistant coaches: Dawn Cooksley, Skylar Hop
Last season: 15-26, 11-19 MVC
Returning starters: Kiahna Hill, Sr., SS/OF/P; Eva Burbidge, Sr., P/CF; Grace Schneider, Sr., 2B; Kate Sehr, Sr., LF; Liv Williams, Jr., 1B; Rylee Goodfellow, Jr., C; Maddie Caylor, Soph., 3B/DH; Tamiah Teran, Fr., OF/INF; Ella Nelson, Fr., OF/P; Lexi Nash, Fr., 3B/DH.
Other returning letterwinners: Ashley Dyson, Jr., OF; Ava Davis, Soph., C; Cameron Hopkins, Soph., INF; Bralyn Bigley, Fr., OF/CR
Headliner: Senior shortstop Kiahna Hill built on her reputation as one of the top all-around players in the Mississippi Valley Conference last season hitting a team-best .410 while leading West High with three home runs, 22 RBI and 21 stolen bases.
Keep an eye on: Senior pitcher Eva Burbidge will look to take a big step forward this season after posting a 7-8 record and 6.42 ERA a year ago in 84 innings while also batting .341 with 21 runs scored and a team-high 23 walks.
Circle the date: June 23 vs. Liberty High. The Women of Troy host cross-town rival Liberty High in an early-season Valley Division showdown.
Breakdown: Expectations are elevated at West High with nine players with starting experience returning from a team that won 15 games a year ago.
The West High lineup returns nearly intact from a year ago with the top seven hitters coming back including five players that hit over .312 a year ago.
Freshman Ella Nelson (.356) and Tamiah Teran each gained valuable varsity experience last season while juniors Rylee Goodfellow (.312) and Liv Williams (.330) and senior Kate Sehr (.240) join Hill and Burbidge as full-time returning starters.
Burbidge will be the leader for West High in the circle though developing pitcher depth behind the senior will be a key.
Coach: Jeff Kelley (3rd season)
Headliner: Iowa recruit Brylee Klosterman solidified her status as one of the top pure hitters in the state with a monster junior season in which she batted .489 with 25 extra-base hits 42 runs scored and 35 RBI.
Keep an eye on: Junior pitcher Kara Maiers enjoyed a breakthrough season a year ago posting a 13-7 record and 2.31 ERA while striking out 142 in 121 innings.
Circle the date: June 18 vs. City High. The true home opener for the Lightning provides an early season measuring stick for Liberty High in its first year in Class 5A as preseason third-ranked City High travels across town.
Breakdown: Expectations continue to rise within the Liberty High program after the Lightning demonstrated last season they can compete with the top teams in the state.
After winning 18 games in 2018 Liberty High went 21-22 a year ago while posting a 15-15 mark in its first season in the Mississippi Valley Conference.
A year after coming up one win shy of a Class 4A state tournament berth, falling to Independence in the 4A Regional title game, Liberty High moves up to Class 5A for the first time.
The Liberty High returns nearly intact led by all-state outfield and Iowa recruit Brylee Klosterman who hit .489 with 25 extra-base hits and 35 RBI last season.
Junior pitcher Kara Maiers returns in the circle after posting a 13-7 record and 2.31 ERA last season striking out 142 in 121 innings.
Clear Creek Amana
Coaches: Jodie Scheetz and Ken Thimmesch (1st season)
Assistant coaches: Ali Herdiska, Emily Ira
Last season: 12-22, 7-18 WAMAC
Returning starters: Ainsley Schrock, Sr., C; Gracie Downes, Sr., OF; Raina Henze, Sr., P; Allison Rummelhart, Sr., 3B; Gabrielle Bedford, Jr., 2B; Grace Bedford, Jr., OF; Peyton Graft, Jr., P/OF; Avery Allan, Fr., OF.
Headliner: Senior catcher Ainsley Schrock was a first-team all-WAMAC West Division selection a year ago after leading the Clippers with a .430 batting average, 11 doubles, seven home runs and a .750 slugging percentage.
Keep an eye on: Senior pitcher Raina Henze will look to build on the momentum of a strong junior season in which the right-hander posted a 6-9 record a career-best 2.93 ERA in 98 innings.
Circle the date: June 22 vs. Benton Community. After six consecutive road games to open the season the home debut for first-year co-head coaches Jodie Scheetz and Ken Thimmesch comes against WAMAC West Division stalwart Benton Community.
Breakdown: There is no shortage of excitement at Clear Creek Amana where Scheetz and Thimmesch take over a team with eight players with starting experience.
The experience starts up the middle with the return of multiple-year starters Schrock at catcher and Henze in the circle.
Juniors Grace and Gabrielle Bedford are back after each ranking in the top five on the team in batting average last season with Grace hitting .351 and Gabrielle .298.
Freshman outfield Avery Allan hit .282 in her varsity debut last season while seniors Allie Rummelhart and Gracie Downes each return with starting experience along with junior Peyton Graft.
Developing pitching depth behind Henze and navigating a challenging schedule that features doubleheaders with four ranked teams will be two key challenges for the first-year staff.
Coach: Dave Johnson (1st season)
Assistant coaches: Ashley Iehl and Adrienne Staton
Last season: 23-16, 20-6 WAMAC
Returning starters: Kayla West, Sr., P; Monet Barnhouse, Jr., RF; Sarah Heick, Jr., 1B; Ava Stebral, Soph., 2B; Hilary Wilson, Fr., 3B.
Other returning letterwinners: Jada Buffington, Soph., UTIL.
Newcomers to watch: Kendall Jensen, 8th, P; Remington Olson, 8th, OF; Mia Stahle, 8th, UTIL.
Headliner: Senior pitcher Kayla West was a first-team all-WAMAC East Division pick and a second-team all-state selection last season after posting a 15-6 record and striking out 177 in 147 1/3 innings.
Keep an eye on: Hilary Wilson announced herself as one of the top young talents in the state last season as an eighth-grader when she led Solon with a .410 batting average and 21 doubles. The freshman third baseman had five home runs, drove in 38 runs and scored 44 in her first varsity season.
Circle the date: June 15 at West Delaware. The Dave Johnson era at Solon gets underway with a stiff test in a road trip to Class 4A ninth-ranked West Delaware.
Breakdown: First-year head coach Dave Johnson comes to Solon after a successful stint at Central City that included a 150-60 mark over the past five seasons.
Johnson will have some key pieces to build around in his first season in Solon starting with West, a five-year stalwart on the Spartan pitching staff that has led the team in innings pitched each of the past three seasons.
Five other players return with starting experience led by Wilson who was a second-team all-WAMAC East Division pick a year ago.
Juniors Monet Barnhouse (.317) and Sarah Heick (.359, 5 HR) return with starting experience along with sophomores Ava Stebral (.281) and Jada Buffington (.317).
Coach: Morgan Goedken (1st season)
Assistant coaches: Tory Beaver, Bridget McCune, Jon Prottsman
Last season: 18-18, 14-6 RVC
Returning starters: Annie Gahan, Jr., SS; Elly Gahan, Sr., 1B; Courtney Kessler, Fr., C/UTIL.; Emma Nibaur, Soph., P/OF; Jaelynn Ernst, Jr., INF.
Other returning letterwinners: Kate Milder, Jr., INF.; Emma Sueppel, Jr., OF; Abby Clark, Jr., OF; Baylee O’Connor, Jr., INF.; Hope Simpson, Soph., INF.; Kira Louvar, Sr., OF
Newcomers to watch: Alli Clark, 8th, C/UTIL; Gabby Sueppel, 8th, P/UTIL.
Headliner: Annie Gahan already enjoyed breakthrough seasons in volleyball and basketball during her junior season and the shortstop is poised to make a similar jump on the softball diamond this summer after hitting .270 with two home runs and 15 RBI last season.
Keep an eye on: Freshman Courtney Kessler got valuable experience a year ago to the tune of a team-high 105 at bats as an eighth-grader. Kessler held up well in her varsity debut season hitting .267 with 16 RBI and should easily surpass those totals this summer.
Circle the date: June 26 vs. West Branch. The two conference rivals meet for the first time since West Branch stunned Regina in the 2019 regional quarterfinals.
Breakdown: Regina has a new but familiar face leading the program as Regina graduate and former assistant coach Morgan Goedken takes over the head coaching duties.
Goedken played for and later served as an assistant to long-time Regina head coach Jon Prottsman who is back on the staff as an assistant.
Regina has a hole to fill with the graduation of all-stater Katie Bracken but returns five starters from last year’s team that went 18-18.
Annie Gahan and Kessler headline the list of returning starters while senior Elly Gahan is back at first base.
Junior Jaelynn Ernst and sophomore Emma Nibaur each return with varsity experience and will be asked to solidify the Regal pitching staff.
Nibaur went 2-4 with a 4.71 ERA in 35 2/3 innings last season while Ernst tossed 16 innings a year ago.
Coach: Chandran Lapel (2nd season)
Assistant coaches: Emily Sones, Mary Madsen
Last season: 18-18, 7-11
Returning starters: Taylor Thein, Sr., SS; Mackenzie Heise, Sr., INF/OF; Kaiya Luneckas, Sr., P; Nicki Henson, Jr., CF; Lexie Peak, Jr., 2B; Bailey Donohoe, Jr., 3B; Sasha Koenig, Jr., OF; Chloe Pence, Jr., C/INF; Maddy Hatfield, Jr., INF/DP; Lexi Klinkkamer, Soph., INF/OF
Other returning letterwinners: Madison Hovancik, Soph., OF; Addie Wehde, Soph., P/OF; Ava Finley, Fr., INF; Hannah Schiele, Fr., INF.
Headliner: Junior outfielder Nicki Henson has been a staple atop the Bear lineup for the past three seasons leading West Branch in hits on her way to all-state honors each of those seasons. Henson hit a team-high .487 and led West Branch with 58 hits, 42 runs and 21 stolen bases a year ago.
Keep an eye on: Another stalwart in the West Branch lineup senior pitcher Kaiya Luneckas hopes to put the finishing touches on a stellar career with a strong senior season. A St. Louis University recruit, Luneckas was 12-12 with a 3.41 ERA and struck out 211 in 149 2/3 innings last season.
Circle the date: June 15 at West Liberty. The Bears open the season with a trip to long-time rival and Class 3A eighth-ranked West Liberty in what should be a key contest in the RVC South race.
Breakdown: Last season ended with some excitement as West Branch rattled off five consecutive wins, including an upset of Regina, to reach the Class 2A regional semifinals.
That excitement has carried over to this season with the roster from last year’s 18-18 squad returning nearly unchanged.
Ten players with starting experience return led by Henson in center field and Luneckas in the circle.
There is plenty of other pop in the lineup as senior multi-year starters Mackenzie Heise (.396 BA, 7 HR) and Taylor Thein (.277, 2 HR) return along with junior Bailey Donohoe (.283, 4 HR) and junior Lexie Peak (.303 BA).
Junior Sasha Koenig (.250 BA) is an excellent athlete that can play all over the field while junior catcher Chloe Pence returns with experience.
Sophomore Lexi Klinkkamer is a candidate for potential breakthrough after hitting .321 with 17 RBI and posting a 3-5 record with 27 strikeouts in 53 2/3 innings last season.