Your Prep Sports
Three of the five state tournament brackets are set.
Regional finals in Classes 1A, 2A and 3A on Monday produced 24 of the 40 state qualifiers for next week’s state tournament at Harlan Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge.
The final 16 spots are up for grabs on Tuesday with regional finals in the largest two classes.
A pair of Your Prep Sports area teams are among those attempting to secure one of those remaining spots as Liberty High and City High will each attempt to punch their tickets to state.
We take a look at the regional final matchups for Liberty High and City High.
Class 5A, Region 7
Liberty High (17-8) at No. 2 Cedar Rapids Kennedy (22-1)
When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Cedar Rapids Kennedy High School
Top Players: Liberty High – Brylee Klosterman, Sr., OF, .450 BA, 5 HR, 18 RBI; Miranda Jones, Jr., 1B, .427 BA, 4 HR, 22 RBI. Cedar Rapids Kennedy – Kaylin Kinney, Sr., P, .636 BA, 9 HR, 26 RBI; Addy Alber, Fr., OF, .500 BA, 6 HR, 23 RBI.
About the Lightning: For the second straight season the Lightning find themselves in position to earn the first state tournament berth in program history.
Last season Liberty High fell to Independence in a Class 4A regional title game and the Lightning earned a shot at a state tournament spot for the second straight season with an impressive 12-0 win over No. 15 Cedar Rapids Prairie in the regional semifinal on Saturday.
Standing in the way is one of the top teams led by one of the most dominant players in the state in Kaylin Kinney.
Liberty High was 4-6 after dropping both games of a doubleheader against Cedar Rapids Kennedy on June 25.
Since that sweep at the hands of the Cougars the Lightning have won 13 of 15 games including five straight to reach the regional finals for the first time in Class 5A.
The late-season push starts with junior pitcher Kara Maiers who has won eight straight starts and leads Class 5A with 145 strikeouts.
Maiers is 10-2 on the season with a .86 ERA in 81 2/3 innings and hasn’t loss since a 5-2 setback to Kennedy in the opener of the June 25 doubleheader.
All-stater Brylee Klosterman headlines the Liberty High offensive attack hitting .450 with a state-leading six triples, five home runs and 18 RBI.
Miranda Jones (.427 BA) and Mischa Reiners (.422 BA) have combined for 35 RBI.
About the Cougars: One of the hottest teams in Class 5A, the Cougars enter the regional final riding a 15-game winning streak that started with the sweep of Liberty High last month.
The Cougars are seeking a third state tournament berth in the past four seasons and second in a row after falling to City High in the opening round last season.
Kennedy has once again been among the toughest teams in the state to score on.
The Cougars have posted 15 shutouts in 23 games and entering with a stretch of seven consecutive shutouts.
Leading the way for the Cougars is Kaylin Kinney who is among the most dominant players in the state. The senior is 8-0 in the circle, allowing just seven hits and zero runs while striking out 53 in 40 innings this season.
As dominant as Kinney is in the circle she is equally impactful at the plate.
Kinney ranks second in the state with a .636 batting average and has homered nine times and driven in 26 runs in 33 at bats.
She ranks second in the state with 18 RBI and has scored 30 runs in 51 total plate appearances.
Kinney has had help this season. Freshman Addy Alber is hitting .500 with six home runs and 23 RBI, junior Mya Dodge is batting .382 with seven home runs and a team-high 31 RBI and senior Abby Spore is batting .388 with five homers and 24 RBI.
What to watch: This one has all the signs of a classic pitchers duel.
Kinney and Maiers have been among the most dominant in the state this season meaning scoring opportunities and runs will likely be at a premium on Tuesday.
Maiers has been spectacular during her personal eight-game winning streak posting a .14 ERA and striking out 94 in 49 innings during that stretch.
The last time Maiers allowed more than two runs in a game was when she gave up five runs on four hits in the June 25 loss to Cedar Rapids Kennedy.
Kinney has been equally impressive throughout the season. She has allowed seven hits and five walks in 40 innings and opponents are hitting just .056 against Kinney.
Class 5A, Region 8
No. 8 Muscatine (17-2) at No. 5 City High (18-4)
When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
Where: City High
Top Players: City High – Ayana Lindsey, Jr., P, .500 BA, 11 HR, 30 RBI; Carey Koenig, Jr., C, .468, 10 HR, 35 RBI. Muscatine – Rylie Moss, Jr., CF, .662 BA, 35 R, 17 SB; Kaylynn Salyars, Jr., 2B, .469 BA, 8 2B, 30 RBI.
About the Little Hawks: Two seasons ago City High ended a 17-year state tournament drought. Now the Little Hawks are seeking a third consecutive trip to Fort Dodge and have visions of chasing a state title.
City High lost back-to-back games to end the regular season but bounced back by hammering five home runs in a 9-2 win over West High in the regional semifinal.
Few teams in the state can match the offensive firepower that City High brings to the table.
It all starts with leadoff hitter Ayana Lindsey who led the state in home runs for the second consecutive season with 11.
Lindsey is hitting .500 with 30 RBI from her leadoff spot and is also 8-4 with a 1.95 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 71.2 innings.
The City High offense is much more than just Lindsey.
Carey Koenig ranks second in the state with 10 home runs and leads the Little Hawks 35 RBI while Ella Cook (.349 BA) and Brooke Bormann (.333 BA) each have seven home runs and Keli Potter has homered five times and driven in 28 runs.
About the Muskies: Muscatine enters the regional final playing as well as any team in Class 5A. The Muskies have won five straight and 12 of their last 13 including a 9-5 regional semifinal win over Linn-Mar on Saturday.
Muscatine is seeking its first state tournament appearance since 2014 and both of its losses have come to top-10 opponents in ninth-ranked Pleasant Valley and 3A No. 2 Davenport Assumption.
The Muskies feature their own standout leadoff hitter in junior center fielder Rylie Moss.
Moss ranks second in the state and tops in 5A with a .662 batting average and six triples and ranks in the top 10 in runs scored (35) and stolen bases (17).
Moss leads a group of four Muskies hitting .400. Junior Kalynn Salyars is hitting .469 with a team-high 30 RBI, Olivia Harmon is hitting .444 with 27 runs scored and freshman Becca Haag is a .400 hitter with eight RBI.
Bree Seaman and Maura Chalupa have split the pitching duties for the Muskies nearly 50-50.
Seaman is 11-1 with a 2.11 ERA in 63 innings pitched while Chalupa has gone 6-1 with a 2.98 ERA in 56 1/3 innings.
What to watch: The only 5A regional final matchup between two top-10 teams is an interesting matchup between two contrasting styles.
City High boasts the most powerful lineup in the state while Muscatine prefers to play small ball.
Whichever side is able to implement their style more effectively will have the edge in the most evenly matched of the 5A regional finals.
Slowing down a City High offense that has hit a state-leading 46 home runs is no easy task. Eight different Little Hawks have hit multiple home runs this season as City High has 11 more homers than any other team.
Muscatine has speed throughout its lineup that can cause a headache for opponents.
The key to slowing the Muskies is keeping Moss off base something that is easier said than done.