Baseball: Class 4A Romeoville Sectional pairings announced
Updated: May 12, 2012 7:12PM
When it comes to postseason success, there’s little doubt that both Naperville Central and Neuqua Valley have been carrying the banner for the city of Naperville as of late.
Prior to last year, either Naperville Central or Neuqua Valley was fortunate enough to take home a sectional title for five straight seasons, spanning 2006-10.
Given the seedings and pairings the IHSA released for the 2012 Class 4A Romeoville Sectional over the course of two days earlier this week, the city’s two flagship baseball programs might once again have a say in possibly bringing the city a sixth sectional title in seven years.
Seeded third and fifth, respectively, Neuqua Valley and Naperville Central are the two highest seeded Naperville-area teams within the Class 4A Romeoville Sectional and could meet in a potential Class 4A Romeoville Sectional Final on June 2.
“No, I wasn’t (surprised). That’s about where I thought we would be,” Neuqua Valley coach Robin Renner said of his team’s placement.
A year ago, Renner’s team garnered a third seed before losing to eventual Class 4A runner-up Providence Catholic in a sectional semifinal.
Their 5-2 loss to the Celtics ended a 25-win campaign for the Wildcats and has certainly provided motivation for them to try and make amends, starting May 23 against either East Aurora or Hinsdale Central over at Bolingbrook.
A victory there would possibly place Neuqua Valley into a second meeting this season with Naperville North, which it defeated, 6-5, back on April 14, with a regional title on the line.
After a 4-10 start to the season, the Huskies, who open up with Bolingbrook on May 24, rattled off a 12-game winning streak to eventually receive the sixth seed in the sectional.
“Yeah, that’s pretty much where we thought we were going to fall,” Naperville North senior Mariano Long said. “We start off the year pretty rough. (We had a) lot of mental mistakes (early on in the season). A lot of young mistakes, eventhough we were an old, experienced team. But it all comes down to who gets hot at the right time and who can make a run for it.”
Meanwhile, the Huskies’ crosstown rivals at Naperville Central, which took two of three from them this week, will begin postseason play against Oswego on May 24 at Downers Grove South.
The Redhawks posted a 3-0 shutout of the Panthers on March 27 behind a pair of junior pitchers, Jim Nashert and Jeff Schank.
“We’re (aware of the seeding and pairings). It’s out there. It’s the time of the year that that stuff starts popping off. We just try and keep focused (on) the process and the process will bring us to that point,” Naperville Central coach Mike Stock said. “But I saw it out there and it’s a fair seed. If we go to Downers Grove South and do what we can and hope we can go out there and advance to Romeoville.”
A victory over Oswego would likely give Naperville Central an opportunity to enact some revenge on host Downers Grove South for eliminating it from the postseason with a 3-1 loss in the 2011 Class 4A Hinsdale Central Regional Final.
The man who took the loss for the Redhawks that morning against the Mustangs, senior right-hander Ian Lewandowski, had won five straight decisions since before losing Thursday at Naperville North and was blunt about his team’s prospects.
“I mean, whatever. Play who you gotta play,” Lewandowski said matter-of-factly. “It doesn’t really matter to us. I just know, come playoff time, we’re gonna be ready and we’re gonna be a tough team to beat.”
Elsewhere, Benet, Metea Valley and Waubonsie Valley were seeded ninth, 10th and 13th, respectively.
Scott Lawler’s Redwings have played a dynamite schedule, highlighted by losing to the state’s top two teams — Mount Carmel and St. Laurence — by one run apiece.
Provided it beats Downers Grove North for a second time this year on May 24, Benet would likely get a crack at the sectional’s top seed—Plainfield North—two days later on the Tigers’ home field, no less.
“Looking at it, whether we have to play Plainfield North, Neuqua (Valley), Naperville Central, whoever we had to play, wherever we matched up, I wasn’t really too concerned with where we were going to be seeded, just because we’ve played a tough schedule,” Lawler said. “Bring anybody on. Downers Grove North, we have a tough game with them, so I mean, right off the shoot, we’re gonna have tough games.”