Baseball: Neuqua Valley eyes key game against Plainfield North
Updated: April 28, 2012 7:02PM
Coming off a 25-win season and winning the program’s sixth regional title last spring and following that up with the program’s second straight appearance in the IHSBCA Phil Lawler Summer Classic, expectations were high around Neuqua Valley.
While the Wildcats will learn on Thursday their seed in the Class 4A Romeoville Sectional, they have one final chance to put their best foot forward and earn a potential fortune-changing statement.
The Wildcats, sitting at 15-7, travel on Monday to face off with the presumptive top seed in the Romeoville Sectional, 21-1 Plainfield North.
“I thought we’d be two or three, but with this (a defeat against Lake Park) and depending what happens Saturday, we may drop to four or five. I don’t know,” Neuqua Valley coach Robin Renner said on Thursday.
Hoping to respond from Thursday’s 2-1 loss at home against Lake Park, Neuqua Valley’s doubleheader at Lake Park on Saturday got washed out, so Monday marks its first chance at retribution, against one of the top teams in the state, no less.
Junior right-hander Cody Coll will get the ball from Renner as Neuqua Valley will look to snap No. 3 Plainfield North’s 15-game winning streak.
Owner of a 3.00 ERA, Coll (1-1) has made two starts and has only thrown 9-1/3 innings this season but held Naperville North to one run on four hits in six innings of work in a 6-5 Neuqua Valley victory on April 14.
“I mean every game is crucial. I’ve got a lot of trust in Cody. He’s been pitching great this year. He pitched great against (Naperville) North,” Wildcats’ ace Nick Blackburn said on Thursday. “We should have had that game won handily, but I trust Cody. It’s gonna be a game where, I think we’re at (Plainfield North), if we get our bats going, we can beat anybody.”
The Wildcats’ bats, which put up 56 runs during their recent nine-game winning streak that spanned March 31-April 16, have managed 32 runs in their last nine games after running off that streak.
But they know that no matter what happens Monday, the road to a sectional title will likely go through Plainfield North, so there’s no better time than the present to send a message in the Tigers’ direction.
“Exactly. Exactly. We’ve got to put emphasis on every game,” Blackburn said. “Every game’s important right now, especially before the playoffs. We’ve just got to keep getting our bats going. They’ll come through and hopefully around playoff time, we’re hitting the ball.”