Weather permitting, the 12th annual Chicagoland Challenge softball tournament hosted by St. Edward will be played Saturday at the Elgin Sports Complex.
Surprisingly the tournament, started by former St. Edward coach Peg Corcoran in 2002, has only been rained out once, in 2011.
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The tournament has been a showcase of schools with smaller enrollments over the years and was dominated in its early years by Stanford Olympia, which won the first five Challenge championships before opting not to return. After the Burlington Central JV won the title in 2007 Farmington, an annual power from the Peoria area that has been coming to the tournament since its inception, won for the first time in 2008. Marengo took the title in 2009 and 2010 before opting not to return and Genoa-Kingston beat St. Edward 13-0 in last year's championship game.
Green Wave coach Jaci Corn is hoping her team can return to the title game on Saturday, and with a different result this time.
"It is our goal to get back to the championship game and compete better this time," Corn said.
The Green Wave (4-3) has played well at times this season, including in a 4-3 win over Rosary and a 10-4 victory over Freeport in one of three games St. Edward played at The Dome at The Ballpark in Rosemont.
St. Edward has been led offensively this season by sophomore catcher/third baseman Ryann Scully (. 444) and senior shortstop Kali Kossakowski (. 400, 3 HRs, 8 RBI). Freshman pitcher Lindsay Zdroik has pitched 31 of the Green Wave's 40 innings and is 2-2 with a 1.13 ERA. She has 30 strikeouts and 7 walks. Sophomore Angela Zenteno is 2-0 in the circle.
"We started out on a very good note and now we've hit that learning curve," said Corn, whose team is scheduled to play a Suburban Christian Conference game at Montini Friday. "We're hoping this weekend will be about applying the things we've been learning in practice and what we've learned in our games so far."
St. Edward will play Harvard in the first game of the Challenge, which is scheduled to start at noon due to ACT testing Saturday morning. Other first-round games have Hampshire (3-6) taking on Illiana Christian, IC Catholic Prep (4-5) facing Farmington and Westmont (4-5) playing Genoa-Kingston (2-2). The second round will be at 2 p.m. and the final round at 4 p.m.
While G-K has only played four games, the Cogs showed they are tough again when they lost to 10-1 Burlington Central 6-5 in nine innings earlier this week, a game in which the Cogs had a 5-0 lead. Pitcher Danielle Engel leads Genoa, which got a big 2-run triple from Natalie Klein in the loss to BC.
Hampshire is led by senior pitcher Jennifer Hurst, while IC's top players are Gabby Curran, Jessica Conenna and Maria Kielcheski. Westmont is led by Maria Prete and Kristen Skala.
Farmington could be a team to be reckoned with Saturday. The Farmers, led by pitcher Michaela Cassel, are 8-2 so far. Last year Farmington was upset by Westmont 15-14 in the opening round and then came back to win the consolation title.
There is a $5 admission charge for Saturday's tournament. High school students with photo ID and seniors 65 and older are $2.
In case of rain, a delay or cancellation notice will be posted at stesoftball.com.
Postseason assignments: The IHSA has released postseason assignments and Bartlett will be one of four regional hosts in the Class 4A St. Charles East sectional complex. Dundee-Crown, Elgin, Larkin, South Elgin and Streamwood are also assigned to the St. Charles East sectional field along with the Saints, St. Charles North, Addison Trail, Glenbard North, Elk Grove, Geneva, Glenbard West, Conant, Hoffman Estates, Lake Park, Schaumburg, West Chicago and Wheaton North. Glenbard West, Schaumburg and St. Charles North are the other regional hosts.
The SCE sectional winner then meets the Neuqua Valley sectional winner in one of two supersectionals at Rosemont Stadium.
The remainder of the Fox Valley area's Class 4A teams have been assigned to the Prairie Ridge sectional, which has predetermined regionals by IHSA geography rules. Jacobs hosts a regional that includes Cary-Grove, Crystal Lake South, Huntley and DeKalb, which moved to 12-0 on the season earlier this week. Other regional hosts are Rockford Guilford, Warren and Grant and the PR sectional winner will meet the Rolling Meadows sectional champ in the Barrington supersectional.
In Class 3A, Judson University will host a supersectional between sectional winners at Grayslake Central and Rochelle.
St. Edward, bumped up from Class 2A, will be in the St. Viator regional along with Vernon Hills, North Chicago and Regina Dominican. The St. Viator winner advances to the Grayslake Central sectional.
Burlington Central and Hampshire are in what is clearly one of the toughest 3A regionals in the state at Sycamore. The field includes 2011 state champ and last year's runner-up, Marengo, along with Genoa-Kingston. The winner at Sycamore advances to the Rochelle sectional along with regional winners from Rosary, Sterling and Rockford Boylan.
Westminster Christian will host a Class 1A regional at Jockey Field in East Dundee. Included in the field are Christian Liberty, Luther North and St. Benedict with the winner advancing to the Gilman Iroquois West sectional.
Online seeding for Class 1A is April 30, with 3-4A on May 7.