Johnson: What to watch for in prep sports
We’re into May, which means the games in every prep sport already have or very soon will take on a much higher level of importance.
Pick a game on our area schedule from here on out, and it’s likely to mean something of added significance to the teams involved. Pick one that has either the word regional or the word sectional attached, and that’s especially true.
With that said, all games and meets aren’t created equal, and here are a few events that might be of particular interest to local fans in the next few weeks.
Interstate Eight Conference track & field meet, Thursday at Seneca: The Seneca girls have been on a roll all season, and the boys have more than held their own. After winning by 50 points last year, the girls will be favored to repeat. The boys should be one of the top teams, although they’re likely to have difficulty making it a Fighting Irish sweep.
Herscher at Coal City girls soccer, May 8: This is one of the more relevant regular-season contests of any kind left for the area. Not only is it Coal City’s senior night, it’s a likely preview of the Reed-Custer Regional championship match that will be played eight days later.
Minooka softball at Morris, Friday: It’s going to generate interest in these parts when Minooka and Morris meet and there aren’t reasons to think it could be a very good game. There are plenty here. Morris is 16-2 overall and cracking the state rankings. Minooka’s 2014 results don’t match the Redskins’, but the Indians are still the defending Class 4A state champs.
Gardner-South Wilmington baseball and softball at Newark, May 15: I really don’t know which of our Class 1A teams is superior to the other, in either sport. All four teams have had their moments this season, but none has been terribly consistent or anything close to dominant.
Plano girls track & field sectional, May 16: Although Minooka and Seneca will both host sectionals, there are two local entrants at Plano. The Coalers will be looking to send someone to state for the first time since 2011. For Morris, Haleigh Knapp will be looking to close in on a third straight state championship in the high jump. Whether any of her teammates can join her in Charleston will be determined here.
Southwest Prairie Conference boys tennis tournament, May 16-17 at Plainfield South: Minooka never has won the championship; never even come all that close, really. Although the Indians just suffered their first conference loss of the season, 4-3, to Oswego East on Tuesday, 2014 has a real chance of being the year they break through.
Plainfield Central at Minooka boys volleyball, May 20: Will the SPC championship be decided here? Even if it’s not, I’d imagine that Minooka would love to get back at Plainfield Central for winning the Minooka Invitational last weekend.
Minooka baseball vs. Plainfield North, May 20-22: These certainly look like the two best teams in the SPC, which I think everyone familiar with the conference (including the schedule-makers) expected months ago.
Morris baseball regional, May 26-31: Mendota is in for Pontiac, but otherwise the same six teams that battled in Ottawa in 2013 will face off in our own backyard this season. Coal City and Morris already played one instant classic this season; might they have another, with much higher stakes on the line, in them at some point during this tournament?
Morris softball regional, May 26-31: There aren’t two local entrants in the softball regional the way there are in its baseball counterpart. Still, there will be plenty of intrigue as a Morris team that has easily the area’s highest winning percentage today goes for its first regional title since 2006 and for that to be just the beginning of its run.