New location, same teams.
The Class 4A baseball sectional held last season at Huntley shifts to McHenry this year, but little else has changed. Three of the four regionals within the sectional complex contain the same five teams and the fourth has only one lineup alteration, according to pairings released this week.
In fact, Huntley, Dundee-Crown, DeKalb, Larkin and Rockford Jefferson will not only compete once again in the DeKalb regional, the matchups are identical to 2013.
For No. 2 seed Dundee-Crown (12-15) the familiar pairings represent a chance to recapture the magic of last season's surprise run to a sectional final, launched by a regional championship at DeKalb.
For top-seed Huntley (19-6-1) the scenario could provide an opportunity to avenge last season's disappointing regional title-game loss, when Vince Damato pitched the Chargers past the Red Raiders 3-0.
Seeds would have to hold to set up the rematch. Huntley again faces the winner of the play-in game between No. 5 Rockford Jefferson and No. 4 Larkin (11-16) on Memorial Day, Monday, May 26 at 4:30 p.m. The Royals defeated Jefferson in last year's play-in contest, 7-0, then bowed out in a semifinal against Huntley, 10-2.
Dundee-Crown again opens the playoffs against host DeKalb on Thursday, May 29 at 4:30 p.m. The Chargers defeated the Barbs 10-0 in six innings in a semifinal last year.
The other regional hosts are Crystal Lake South, Grayslake North and Rockford Guilford.
At CL South, the same five teams from the 2013 Jacobs regional are reunited: Jacobs (20-11), Barrington (23-8), Cary-Grove (18-10), Crystal Lake Central (5-19) and the host Gators (13-11).
Jacobs defeated Barrington 9-3 last season to win its first regional championship and went on to win its first sectional. Barrington is the top seed this time around. The Broncos defeated Jacobs 4-3 on April 9.
CL South regional action begins with a clash between No. 5 Crystal Lake Central and No. 4 Crystal Lake South on May 26 at 2 p.m. The winner advances to play Barrington in a semifinal.
No. 2 Jacobs plays No. 3 Cary-Grove in the other semifinal on May 29 at 4:30 p.m. Those teams are scheduled to face each other next week in 2 regular-season games that hold Fox Valley Conference Valley Division title implications.
The same five teams from last year's McHenry regional will reassemble at Grayslake North: Grant (21-6), McHenry (17-8), Prairie Ridge (14-15), Grayslake North (11-5) and Round Lake. Prairie Ridge defeated host McHenry on to win the 2013 regional, 7-3.
Grayslake North opens with a play-in game against Round Lake on May 26. The winner advances to a May 28 semifinal against No. 1 Grant, which was upset last season in a regional semifinal by McHenry, 1-0.
No. 2 McHenry and No. 3 Prairie Ridge square off in the other semifinal.
The Class 4A Rockford-area schools will again gather at Guilford, where last year Hononegah defeated Boylan Catholic 4-2 for the title.
However, Boylan's baseball team has been dropped to Class 3A, replaced by Rockford East. Top-seeded East opens the playoffs on May 28 against the winner of the May 26 play-in game between Auburn and Guilford. Guilford defeated Auburn 13-3 in last year's play-in game. The second semifinal pits No. 2 Hononegah against No. 3 Harlem.
Elgin, Streamwood and Bartlett were split from the above group and assigned to the Schaumburg sectional complex. No. 15 seed Bartlett will host No. 17 Elgin on Memorial Day with the winner advancing to play May 28 against No. 1 seed Batavia at the York regional. Streamwood is the No. 20 seed and will play at No. 13 West Chicago on Memorial Day with the winner facing No. 4 Schaumburg at the Lake Park regional on May 28.
In Class 3A, Hampshire will be a regional host within the Rochelle sectional. The Whip-Purs are the fifth seed and travel to No. 4 Genoa-Kingston on Memorial Day with the winner facing No. 1 seed Sycamore on May 27. The May 28 semifinal pits No. 2 Burlington Central against No. 3 Wheaton Academy.