Neuqua Valley is scorching hot and could make a run like the one that saw the Wildcats finish third at Class 4A state in 2008. Hinsdale South is a No. 2 seed but hasn't had a lengthy postseason since it made the super sectionals in 2004. In Class 3A Glenbard South is trying to turn a strong end to the regular season into a sectional title at home.
Here's a look at the sectionals where area teams are attempting to make postseason runs:
Class 4A Romeoville sectional
Regional hosts: Waubonsie Valley, Bolingbrook, Downers Grove South, Plainfield North
Top sectional seeds: Plainfield North, Hinsdale South, Neuqua Valley, Downers Grove South
At Waubonsie Valley: At No. 2, West Suburban Gold champion Hinsdale South is the highest-seeded DuPage County team in the Romeoville sectional. "That's an honor," Hinsdale South coach Paul Hoel said. "Our kids are ready." Timely pitching and the area-leading .516 batting average of senior Emmanuel Morris has given the Hornets a Wednesday date with No. 18 West Aurora. No. 7 Wheaton Warrenville South (16-19) will play No. 10 Metea Valley (16-17) on Thursday, looking to break a seven-game losing streak and reach the regional final.
At Bolingbrook:Neuqua Valley coach Robin Renner isn't comforted by the fact that his No. 3-seeded Wildcats closed the regular season on a 13-game winning streak. "Those wins don't matter now, and no one cares," Renner said. "You have to play your best baseball." Neuqua Valley (28-7) will play No. 15 Hinsdale Central on Wednesday in a rematch of a March 21 game the Wildcats won 11-0. The difficult Bolingbrook regional also features No. 6 Naperville North (21-13), which plays No. 11 Bolingbrook on Thursday. The Huskies have proven that they can get hot, winning 12 straight at one point this year and 16 of their last 18.
At Downers Grove South: No. 4 seed Downers Grove South (23-12) and No. 5 Naperville Central (23-12) will be heavy favorites in their regional semifinal contests. Led by junior ace Brian Glowicki, Downers South leads off against No. 14 Plainfield East on Wednesday. Naperville Central won six of its last eight regular-season games but couldn't catch Wheaton North for the DuPage Valley Conference title despite placing five players -- including senior ace Ian Lewandowski and juniors Brian Schiemann and Nick Lopez -- on the all-conference team. The Redhawks get Oswego on Thursday.
At Plainfield North: One area team will see its season end when No. 8 Downers Grove North and No. 9 Benet square off on Thursday in a rematch of a March 27 game that Benet won 2-0. Benet was 10-12 in early May before closing the regular season on an 8-3 run. The Redwings feature strong pitching by senior Chris Sanderson -- who has 62 strikeouts in just 44.2 innings -- and his slugging classmate Sam Santa Maria, who has hit 5 home runs while batting .474 and driving in 30 runs. Downers North's Matt Underdown is among the area leaders in home runs and runs scored. This regional also features top sectional seed Plainfield North (29-4), which has won eight of its last nine games and will play Romeoville on Wednesday.
Class 4A Schaumburg sectional
Regional hosts: York, Lake Park, St. Charles East, Wheaton North
Top sectional seeds: Geneva, St. Charles North, St. Charles East, Wheaton North
At Wheaton North: Fresh off its DuPage Valley Conference championship, No. 4 seed Wheaton North (25-10) should be favored to win its home regional. The Falcons are familiar with big games, having won nine straight to edge hard-charging conference rival Naperville Central for the DVC title by one game. Wheaton North has to be careful with No. 13 Willowbrook (20-15) on Wednesday, though -- a 13 seed knocked the Falcons out in a regional semifinal last year. No. 5 Addison Trail plays Batavia on Thursday and beat Wheaton North 10-9 on April 13.
At York: Regional-host York (22-12) plays No. 10 Schaumburg on Thursday and is looking for a regional title after being upset by Glenbard West in a regional final last year. The sixth-seeded Dukes rely on a strong pitching staff -- senior Greg Castello and junior Louis Alcarez have both pitched more than 50 innings this season while maintaining ERAs of 2.02 or better. No. 2 seed St. Charles North beat York 9-2 on April 23 and lurks as a possible regional final opponent.
At St. Charles East: Seventh-seeded Glenbard North is stumbling into the postseason. The Panthers were 14-7 on April 29 but dropped 11 of their last 14 and seven of their last eight -- the lone exception was a tie -- to finish at 16-18-1. A reason for optimism? They did manage to hold a 2-1 series advantage over their Thursday opponent, No. 11 Glenbard East (20-14).
At Lake Park: A year ago, Glenbard West made a surprise run to the St. Charles North sectional final as the No. 14 seed before bowing out to Lyons Twp., the eventual state champ. To repeat that magic, the No. 9 Hilltoppers have to knock off No. 8 Lake Park on Thursday and then, probably, top sectional seed Geneva. Lake Park boasts junior ace Christian Taugner and his minisucle 0.77 ERA along with four batters hitting better than .340.
Class 3A Sycamore sectional
Regional hosts: Freeport, Hampshire, Marian, Kaneland
Top sectional seeds: Kaneland, Burlington Central, Prarie Ridge, Belvidere North
At Kaneland: No. 2 Marmion Academy and No. 3 St. Francis square off Thursday in a matchup of Suburban Christian Conference rivals. Marmion edged St. Francis for the Blue Division title this season, though the Spartans did beat the Cadets 13-12 on April 24. Led by senior Tom Ameche, St. Francis will be looking for its second sectional title in as many years.
Class 3A Glenbard South sectional
Regional hosts: Lake View, Nazareth, Guerin, St. Joseph
Top sectional seeds: Nazareth, St. Joseph, Riverside-Brookfield, Glenbard South
At Lake View: Fourth-seeded Glenbard South (24-10) is the clear favorite in this regional, having won 13 of its final 15 games behind the brother tandem of Mitch and Ethan Gasbarro and the dominant arm of Roger Dyrda. The Raiders play Noble Street Charter on Wednesday, and a win likely earns them a game with No. 5 Montini (19-16), which plays No. 11 Lake View on Thursday. Ace Ben Dobosenski -- with his 2.63 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 48 innings -- will take the mound for Montini, which won three straight games to close the regular season.
At St. Joseph: No. 7 Fenton will try to improve on last year's first-round exit when it plays 12th-seeded North Grand on Thursday. A win likely means a regional final matchup with St. Joseph (24-13), which beat Fenton 7-4 on March 29 and will play Phoenix Military Academy on Wednesday.