With DeKalb and Prairie Ridge back in Class 3A, the softball postseason looks quite different this year for Fox Valley area teams, especially four of the five Elgin Area District U-46 squads. Elgin, Larkin, South Elgin and Streamwood have been sent east to the Barrington sectional complex this year, while Bartlett remains with its usual group in the Lake Park sectional. Meanwhile DeKalb, which advanced to a Class 4A supersectional last year, looms as a potential Class 3A regional final foe for red-hot Burlington Central.
Here's now the next couple of weeks stack up:
Class 4A Barrington sectional
Regional hosts: Hoffman Estates, Fremd, Elk Grove, Rolling Meadows
Top sectional seeds: Conant, Elk Grove, Fremd, Barrington
At Elk Grove: No. 6 Elgin is the top-seeded Fox Valley area team in the sectional complex and the Maroons (20-11) open regional play Wednesday against No. 10 Schaumburg. Elgin senior Hannah Perryman (17-8, 1.30 ERA) has shown she can beat anyone if the Maroons can hit and play defense. Perryman will enter Wednesday's game with 358 strikeouts this season and 826 in her four-year career. She is 10 strikeouts shy of tying the all-time school career record. Sophomore leadoff Annan Eckholm is hitting .388 for Elgin. Elk Grove (25-8) and Michigan State-bound pitcher Dani Goranson meet Dundee-Crown (8-23) in the Tuesday semifinal. D-C senior Melany Love (. 533) is the second leading hitter in the Fox Valley area.
At Fremd: No. 11 seed South Elgin (13-19) takes on No. 5 Lake Zurich (24-9) in the second semifinal on Wednesday. Storm sophomore catcher Alyssa Buddle (. 530) is the area's second leading hitter and junior Victoria Watt (. 426) is seventh in the area. South Elgin's nemesis all season has been suspect defense behind senior Sam Bolin (10-11, 2.50 ERA). The Tuesday semifinal here pits No. 3 Fremd (28-7) against No. 14 Streamwood (10-21). Brittany Delao is hitting .423 for Streamwood.
At Hoffman Estates: Larkin (3-29) has the Monday play-in game against host Hoffman Estates (5-24) with the winner meeting No. 1 Conant (29-2) on Tuesday. Alex Buhrow (. 407) and Lexi Smithberg (. 340) lead Larkin.
Advancement: The Hoffman and Meadows regional winners meet in one sectional semifinal on May 30, with the regional winners from Elk Grove and Fremd playing on June 1. The Barrington sectional winner advances to the Judson University supersectional to play the Cary-Grove sectional winner.
Class 4A Lake Park sectional
Regional hosts: Bartlett, Geneva, St. Charles North, Hinsdale South
Top sectional seeds: Glenbard North, Bartlett, Downers Grove North, Lake Park
At Bartlett: The second-seeded Hawks (26-8) are coming off a tough week in which they had to win Friday against Lake Park to salvage a tie for the Upstate Eight Valley title. Bartlett, which has lost 5 of its last 6, will open regional play Tuesday against the winner of Monday's play-in game between No. 18 Addison Trail and No. 15 Hinsdale Central. The Wednesday semifinal pits No. 7 Glenbard West against No. 9 Wheaton Warrenville South. Alex Morales is hitting .418 for Bartlett and senior pitcher Tori Burke is 15-5.
Advancement: The St. Charles North and Hinsdale South regional winners meet in the May 30 sectional semifinal at Lake Park, with the Bartlett and Geneva regional winners playing the next day. The Lake Park sectional winner meets the Niles West sectional champ in one of two supersectionals at Rosemont Stadium June 4.
Class 4A Cary-Grove sectional
Regional hosts: Hononegah, Huntley, Carmel, Warren
Top regional seeds: Hononegah, Cary-Grove, Carmel, Warren
At Huntley: Fox Valley Conference Valley Division co-champion Cary-Grove (26-6) is the team to beat at Huntley. The top-seeded Trojans take on No. 4 Huntley (10-22) in Tuesday's semifinal with No. 2 Jacobs (20-14) meeting No. 3 Crystal Lake South (21-10) on Wednesday. Cary-Grove is led by junior pitcher Lindsay Efflandt, junior catcher Sarah Leudo, senior outfielder Taylor Dunne, senior third baseman Sara Markelonis and sophomore outfielder Lisa Semro. Huntley junior Randi Petersonb (. 482) is the fourth leading hitter in the area and Crystal Lake South senior Liz Adams (. 510) is No. 3. Jacobs senior pitcher Katie Kirker (4-1) is healthy again and could give the Golden Eagles a shot at the regional title.
Advancement: Regional winner from Hononegah and Huntley meet May 30 with the Carmel and Warren winners meeting May 31 at Cary-Grove. The Cary-Grove sectional winner plays the Barrington sectional winner in the Judson University supersectional.
Class 3A Belvidere North sectional
Regional hosts: Rockford Boylan, IMSA, Burlington Central, Freeport
Top regional seeds: Marengo, Kaneland, Burlington Central, Sterling
At Burlington Central: The host and top-seeded Rockets (26-8) are on a roll, having won 16 of their last 17 games, the only loss being when they split a doubleheader with defending Class 4A champ Moline last weekend. Central opens the regional Tuesday against Hampshire (11-23), which has lost 5 straight and 11 of its last 12. Sophomore Bekah Harnish (. 466) leads the Rockets' offense and senior Tiffany Bentley (. 422) is Hampshire's top hitter. If BC wins, it will likely see DeKalb (19-10) and sophomore ace Katie Kowalski in the regional final. If the Rockets can survive that, they will likely see defending 3A champ Marengo in the sectional semifinals. Marengo beat BC twice in Big Northern East play this season, 2-1 and 11-7.