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updated: 5/24/2014 10:57 PM

Softball: Scouting the Class 3A/4A postseason in the Fox Valley

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  • Elgin's Jenna Lombardo slides safely into home on a wild pitch during Thursday's game at Larkin.

       Elgin's Jenna Lombardo slides safely into home on a wild pitch during Thursday's game at Larkin.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 

Class 4A Bartlett sectionalRegional sites: Rolling Meadows, Hoffman Estates, Addison Trail, St. Charles East

Top four seeds: Glenbard North, Conant, St. Charles East, St. Charles North

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Addison Trail regionalMatchups: Game 1) No. 20 Larkin at No. 13 Addison Trail, Monday at 11 a.m.; Game 2) No. 4 St. Charles North vs. Winner Game 1, Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.; Game 3) No. 5 Bartlett vs. No. 12 Glenbard West, Tuesday at 7 p.m.; Game 4) Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3, Saturday at 11 a.m.

Outlook: Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith doesn't mix his words about the toughness of this sectional. "This sectional is too deep to start talking about second or third round games," he said. "The top eight teams all have a winning percentage of over .650 and the 9-15 teams are good teams. Nobody can look past their first-round opponent."

For the fifth-seeded Hawks (26-7) that's a 17-16 Glenbard West team that Wolfsmith won't allow his team to take lightly.

"Our focus is on hitting Glenbard West's pitcher and taking care of things on the defensive end," said Wolfsmith, whose team lost in the sectional semifinals last year to eventual state runner-up St. Charles East. "Our focus down the stretch has been to clean up our defensive miscues. You're always going to have errors, they're a part of the game. But we've had a couple games the past couple of weeks where we've thrown the ball around a little."

One thing Bartlett hasn't had a problem doing this season is hitting and scoring runs. They hit .374 as a team and average just over 7 runs per game. Amy Johnson (. 456, 7 HRs, 24 RBI), Alex Morales (. 437, 24 RBI), Katie Fornoff (. 413), Kayla Haberstich (. 387, 4 HRs, 18 RBI) and Dana Paul (. 387, 3 HRs, 25 RBI) lead the way for a team that has hit 22 home runs this season.

In the circle, senior Holly Pagan has been consistent all year. She's 17-5 with a 1.88 ERA and 126 strikeouts in 137 innings.

"Holly's pitched a great season," Wolfsmith said. "She's become the pitcher I thought she'd become when she was a freshman."

If seeds hold, Bartlett would get a rematch with St. Charles North in the title game. The North Stars beat the Hawks 3-2 on April 16.

St. Charles East regionalThe matchups: Game 1) No. 18 Streamwood at No. 14 South Elgin, Monday at 10 a.m.; Game 2) No. 3 St. Charles East vs. Winner Game 1, Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.; Game 3) No. 6 Elk Grove vs. No. 11 Elgin, Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.; Game 4) Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3, Saturday at 11 a.m.

Outlook: One would think the host Saints (28-5) would be a heavy favorite to win this regional on their march to another state finals berth. But with hard-hitting Elk Grove, formidable Elgin and a South Elgin team that has won 6 of its last 7 games in the field, there are no givens.

"They're a very good hitting team," said Elgin coach Dr. Nick Bumbales of Elk Grove, which beat the Maroons 10-0 on April 5. "Coach (Ken) Grams told me this might be his best hitting team in 30 years. They have a good pitcher, a lot of veteran players, they're sound offensively and defensively and Kenny is a real good coach."

The Maroons (14-18) have some hard hitters of their own in the senior trio of Kelly Bremer (. 494, 6 HRs, 33 RBI), Jennah Perryman (. 462, 6 HRs, 22 RBI) and Anna Eckholm (. 420, 7 HRs, 24 RBI). Sophomore pitcher Jessica Rago (8-10) hits .371 with 5 homers and 30 RBI.

"Our lineup has been hitting well," Bumbales said. "Eckholm, Perryman and Bremer have done a great job all year and Rago has had a good year at the plate. Jess has pitched some real nice games this past week and she seems to have a little better command. Our big thing has been when we have a defensive lapse it kind of snowballs."

Bumbales seemingly put to rest any thoughts of Perryman returning to the circle. The Missouri-St. Louis signee went 3-0 with a 2.66 ERA early in the season but hasn't pitched since early April. She has played infield positions regularly and continued to be one of the top hitters in the area.

"Having her not pitch for the length of time she hasn't, it would be irresponsible of me to put her out there now," he said Saturday.

South Elgin (18-12) \can't be counted out either. A defending regional champion, the Storm have come on strong as of late under first-year coach Stephanie Katzenberger. Mallory Mecklenburg (. 430, 7 HRs, 28 RBI), Rachel Ziemba (. 463), Cassidy Westlund (. 459, 7 HRs, 42 RBI), Paige Allen (. 398) and Alyssa Buddle (. 360, 6 HRs. 31 RBI) lead the offense. Freshman pitcher Karli Dobler is 7-4 and Allen is 6-8 in the circle this season.

Advancement: Sectional matchups -- Rolling Meadows regional winner vs. Addison Trail regional winner, Tuesday, June 3 at 4:30 p.m.; Hoffman Estates regional winner vs. St. Charles East regional winner, Wednesday, June 4 at 4:30 p.m. Sectional championship Saturday, June 7 at 11 a.m. Winner advances to the Rosemont supersectional to play the Trinity sectional winner on Monday, June 9 at 4:30 p.m.

Class 4A Jacobs sectionalRegional sites: McHenry, Cary-Grove, Huntley, Rockford Guilford

Top regional seeds: McHenry, Barrington, DeKalb, Hononegah

Cary-Grove regionalMatchups: Game 1: No. 5 Crystal Lake Central (15-12) at No. 4 Jacobs (16-13, Monday at 4:30 p.m.; Game 2: No. 1 Barrington (23-10) vs. Winner Game 1, Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.; Game 3: No. 2 Cary-Grove (18-13) vs. No. 3 Crystal Lake South (15-11), Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.; Regional championship, Friday at 4:30 p.m.

Outlook: This is a regional that has had minimal changes to since the advent of the four-class system but the change this year is significant with the addition of Barrington to the field. The 23-10 Fillies are coming off a 2013 season that saw them make a postseason run to the state semifinals, where they fell to St. Charles East before coming back to place third. Barrington is the top seed in the regional but lost to No. 4 seed Jacobs (16-13) 7-3 on April 1.

No. 2 seed Cary-Grove (18-13) went 1-2 this season against No. 3 CL South (15-11), splitting their FVC Valley games.

"We have to hit and play defense," said Cary-Grove coach Tammy Olson. "If we do that we can be competitive with any team we play."

Jamie Deering, Brianne Prank and Lisa Semro lead the Trojans while Sam McLean (. 532, 6 HRs, 32 RBI) has been an offensive mainstay for the Gators.

Huntley regionalThe matchups: Game 1) No. 5 Dundee-Crown at No. 4 Rockford Jefferson, Monday at 11 a.m.; Game 2) No. 1 DeKalb vs. Winner Game 1, Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.; Game 3) No. 2 Huntley vs. No. 3 Rockford East, Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.; Game 4) Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3, Saturday at 11 a.m.

Outlook: DeKalb, despite having just a 13-12 record, is the team to beat at Huntley. The Red Raiders are led offensively by Shannon Walsh (. 450), Jessica Shields (. 424, 25 RBI), Brittany Koss (. 411, 27 RBI), Megan Larson (. 376, 8 HRs, 29 RBI) and Megan Bazczewski (. 388).

Freshman Kateri Conklin has emerged as Huntley's top threat in the circle. She's 8-2 and leads the staff with 108 innings pitched.

Advancement: Sectional matchups -- Huntley regional winner vs. McHenry regional winner Tuesday, June 3 at 4:30 p.m.; Guilford regional winner vs. Cary-Grove regional winner Wednesday, June 4 at 4:30 p.m.; Championship game Saturday, June 7 at 11 a.m. Winner advances to the Barrington supersectional Monday, June 9 to play the Stevenson sectional winner at 6 p.m.

Class 3A Burlington Central regionalThe matchups: Game 1) No. 5 Sycamore at No. 4 Hampshire, Monday, 11 a.m.; Game 2) No. 1 Burlington Central vs. Winner Game 1, Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.; Game 3) No. 2 Kaneland vs. No. 3 Genoa-Kingston, Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.; Game 4 4) Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, Saturday at 10 a.m.

Outlook: One of the tougher Class 3A regionals around could have an interesting storyline if seeds hold and Central (21-9) takes on Kaneland (19-11) for the title. Kaneland pitcher Angie Morrow, a Burlington Central transfer, is 12-6 for the season.

"It's on our field and we know we'll have to play good softball to win the regional," said BC coach Wade Maisto. "You can't look forward to Saturday on Tuesday. You can't overlook anybody and you want to be playing your A game. If we do that we can be tough to beat."

The Rockets are led by senior NIU recruit Bekah Harnish (. 534, 7 HRs, 29 RBI), and junior Courtni Neubauer (. 484). Senior Brooke Gaylord is 10-5 in the circle and sophomore Emily Kisch is 9-4.

Hampshire (21-13) has had a breakout season led by senior Sara Finn, junior Haley Widmayer and freshman Peyton DeChant. The Whip-Purs, who shared the Fox Valley Conference Fox Division title with Grayslake Central, are coming into the postseason off big wins over District 300 sister school Jacobs and FVC Valley champion McHenry.

"The bats are coming alive again and with the playoffs it's a matter of timing and who gets hot," said second-year Hampshire coach Stacey Stepek. "Our girls are focused and determined to get a win over Sycamore Monday."

Sycamore (20-11) beat Hampshire 9-8 on April 9.

Advancement: The BC regional winner plays on Tuesday, June 3 at 4:30 p.m. in the Marengo sectional against the Rock Falls regional winner.

Class 3A Nazareth regionalOutlook: St. Edward (18-12) will open play against the host school at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. The Green Wave are led by sophomore pitcher Lindsay Zdroik (13-10), who threw a no-hitter against Regina Dominican Saturday. St. Edward's offense is led by Zdroik, Allison Stratman and Ryann Scully.

"We finished the regular season strong and we feel good about the way we're playing right now," said St. Edward coach Jaci Corn.

If the No. 9 seed Green Wave get past No. 6 Nazareth, they will likely meet defending state champion Glenbard South for the regional title.

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