Glenbard South takes its turn under the lights Friday.
The Raiders will take on defending Class 3A state champion Marengo at the Chicago Bandits Stadium in Rosemont. The 7 p.m. game is one of this spring's "Friday Nights Lights" series the Bandits are hosting from April 6 until the start of the playoffs in May.
The teams will get the full pro-game experience, with names in lights on the scoreboard and individualized walk-up music for each hitter. This will be Marengo's second game in Rosemont this spring; The Indians (13-3) beat Richards 3-2 this past Friday, handing Richards its first loss.
"It's a great opportunity for the girls," Glenbard South coach Julie Fonda said. "When (Marengo coach) Dwain (Nance) called and said he would like to play our game there, I jumped at the chance."
The matchup could potentially be a state championship preview between two of the best teams in 3A.
Glenbard South (11-2) run-ruled Marengo during the regular season last year, but it was Marengo that beat La Salle-Peru for the state title.
"It's a good game to see where we're at," Fonda said. "Win, lose or draw it will be a cool atmosphere and a competitive game."
This is the Metro Suburban Conference's bye week, but the 12th-ranked Raiders are anything but resting it up.
They travel to Trinity Wednesday, host No. 14 Downers Grove South Thursday and after the Marengo game play at No. 2 Downers Grove North Saturday morning.
"We're kind of trying to make sure we keep our eyes on the big prize," Fonda said, "and playing tough teams prepares us. That is the big picture. We're used to being busy, but the level of competition is going to be a challenge."
IC an italian beef in your future:
Immaculate Conception coach Frank Reaber, father of four, knows how to get his kids' attention. That goes for his Knights, too.
"I told them if they win 10 in a row, they get Portillo's," Reaber said.
Fire up the grill for some italian beefs and burgers, after IC's 7-4 win over Wheaton Academy Monday. IC indeed has been feasting on opponents of late.
Since a 1-4 start against tough non-conference foes the likes of Trinity and Plainfield Central, the Knights have ripped off 10 straight wins. IC has scored over 10 runs per game over its last nine games heading into Monday, but Reaber said just as important IC has cleaned up its defense. Starting with an 8-1 win over St. Edward April 2 IC hasn't committed more than 1 error in a game and has played two error-free games.
Freshman pitcher Jessica Conenna, the beneficiary of this good defense, has been impressive, 8-3 with a 1.32 ERA with 78 strikeouts in 69 innings.
"It makes it a whole lot easier when you're not making mistakes in the field," Reaber said. "Jessica, with Maria (Kieliszewski) catching are doing a good job. They are in synch together and playing well."
Reaber also made a couple tweaks to his lineup. He moved Jocelyn Sanchez, his leadoff hitter last year, to No. 5 and moved freshman Gabby Curran to the top; Curran has drawn 13 walks, a team-high. Reaber also put Maria Kieliszewski to No. 2 and Katelyn Conenna, committed to Indiana, to No. 3. Katelyn Conenna leads the team with 20 RBI and 10 doubles hitting .477, with Jessica Conenna hitting a team-best .488. Kieliszewski has driven in 17 while hitting .457.
IC's win streak should be tested today against Montini -- another hot team -- with a date against St. Francis looming in two weeks.
Head east, young Wildcats:
One of Neuqua Valley coach Melissa Wilson's most memorable high school experiences at Lake Park came when the Lancers traveled to southern Illinois for a two-day softball excursion.
This week Wilson will take her Wildcats road tripping.
Neuqua will join Upstate Eight Conference mates Lake Park and Bartlett at the 19th Annual Wendy's Spring Classic April 19-21 in Ashland, Ohio.
Neuqua will play at 4:30 p.m. Friday in its bracket against Boardman. Also in the Wildcats' bracket is Poland Seminary and two-time Ohio Gatorade Player of the Year Erin Gabriel, who struck out 34 batters in a 16-inning game last week.
"I've tried to up our competition this year and I know the competition is at a different level there," Wilson said. "It's nice going in and not knowing anybody. You just have to go in and play your game."
Wilson found out in June that Neuqua's entry into the tournament was accepted; the girls raised over $5,000 in a month for hotel and travel expenses.
"The softball is great," Wilson said, "but I also want the girls to have an experience that they'll remember, to build up camaraderie. This is a great opportunity for that to happen."