Will Joliet-area powers meet again?
Updated: May 10, 2011 7:00PM
Area baseball fans were looking forward to last Friday’s showdown between the top two teams in The Herald-News area, which also happened to be two of the state’s top-ranked 4A squads — Plainfield North and Providence.
North entered the game on its home field unbeaten and Providence came to town with a roster full of Division I signees and a baseball resume that is well known throughout the state of Illinois.
The game, though, did not turn out to be the close battle many expected. Providence turned on the power and roared to a 20-3 victory.
The story was not this meeting, however. This was a mid-season, end-of-the-week, nonconference matchup with each team’s top pitchers on the sidelines and with nothing more than pride and a minor shift in the ratings on the line.
Take nothing away from the Celtics’ fine effort and the convincing win, but the real story will be if the two area powers get the chance to meet once again.
If they do, the date has been set.
Thanks to the seedings and pairings announced last week for the upcoming state baseball tournaments, the Tigers and Celtics are on course to potentially meet on June 4 in the championship game of the Neuqua Valley Sectional in Naperville.
Potentially is the key word because each club would have to not only prevail in its own regional round, but would then have to win a sectional semifinal to advance to the second meeting.
Plainfield North was awarded the No. 1 seed among the 23 teams that feed into the Neuqua Sectional. Providence is No. 2, with host Neuqua Valley and defending state champion Naperville Central right behind at Nos. 3 and 4.
Lockport is next among Herald-News area teams at No. 6 and Plainfield South is at No. 8. Joliet West is seeded 10th, followed in order by Lincoln-Way Central, Bolingbrook and Plainfield East. Romeoville (No. 20), Plainfield Central (No. 22) and Joliet Central (No. 23) round out that field.
Lincoln-Way North and Lincoln-Way East are the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds in the 23-team Sandburg Sectional. North is assigned to the Homewood-Flossmoor Regional and East is the top seed team at the Shepard Regional.
The four regionals that feed into the Neuqua Sectional will be played at Plainfield South, Hinsdale Central, Benet and Lockport. Those regionals begin play on May 23.
The lone 4A area school that is not part of the Neuqua Sectional is Minooka. The Indians again will head south and are seeded second in the six-team Normal West Regional that feeds into the Bloomington Sectional.
The four area 3A teams all are part of the 18-team Lincoln-Way West Sectional field. Joliet Catholic drew a No. 2 seed, followed by No. 3 Lemont, No. 5 host Lincoln-Way West and No. 9 Morris. Those four teams will all play in separate regionals at Joliet Catholic, Lincoln-Way West, Tinley Park (where Lemont will play) and Bremen (where Morris will play) that also begin on May 23.
Four of the five area 2A teams will be part of the five-team Coal City Regional that starts next Monday. The host Coalers are the top seed, followed by No. 2 Reed-Custer, No. 3 Wilmington and No. 5 Seneca. Peotone is the fourth seed at the five-team Herscher Regional.
Dwight and Gardner-South Wilmington are the first and third seeds, respectively, in the 1A regional at Gardner that opens on Monday as well.
The 3A and 4A state finals again will be at Silver Cross Field on June 10-11. The 1A and 2A finals weekend shift to O’Brien Field in Peoria this spring and will be played June 3-4.
H-N’S TOP FIVE
1) Providence (22-3)
The Celtics won the highly anticipated non-conference showdown at Plainfield North in a convincing 20-3 rout. The more important test may come if the two teams clash in the sectional in a few weeks.
2) Plainfield North (22-1)
The Tigers fell from the unbeaten ranks with the loss to Providence but still are umblemished and appear to be on their way to a Southwest Prairie Conference crown.
3) Lincoln-Way North (19-3)
The Phoenix jumped all over SouthWest Suburban Red rival Andrew in a 15-2 win last Thursday and nipped the Thunderbolts again on Monday 4-3.
4) Lincoln-Way East (17-7)
The Griffins have gone 16-4 since a difficult 1-3 start.
5) Lincoln-Way West (15-7)
The Warriors appear to have hit their stride as the state tournament is now less than two weeks away.