OTTUMWA – It was quite a different feeling going into the regional tournament last year.
Sure, this year Iowa Western again is going in not only as the top team in the tournament, but also as the defending NJCAA national champion. That, however, is where the similiarities end between the jugernant from Council Bluffs that arrived at the Region XI postseason tournament last year and the team that arrived in Muscatine this year on the heels of being swept on Tuesday by their biggest rival.
Last year, it was hard to imagine anyone in the country beating the Reivers. As it turned out, few did as Iowa Western dropped just three games all year on the way to winning their second-straight national title.
This year, Iowa Western enters postseason play on the heels of two losses handed to them by an Indian Hills team that was talking a very confident tune Tuesday. After coming so close several times this year to knocking off the Reivers, and finally coming through in their final two regular season chances, the Falcons are very confident they can do it again when both teams join Marshalltown and Muscatine this weekend in putting their seasons on the line at the Region XI baseball tournament.
"It was nice to finally get the win over Iowa Western after they had beaten us six times earlier this season," freshman pitcher Derek Kawlewski said. "It lets us know we can do it. Now we've got some great momentum to take down them and whoever else we have to take down at the regionals."
First up for the Falcons to have to take down will be Marshalltown, who certainly made everyone in the region aware of their presence when they stunned Iowa Western themselves by winning three of four games against the Reivers three weeks before the end of the regular season. The 23-20 Tigers were the only team to split their season series with the two-time national champs, winning games as low scoring as 2-1 in Council Bluffs and as high scoring as 12-11 in Marshalltown with the Reivers.