Last Friday, Sterling softball coach Becki Edmondson didn't really want to talk to much about the possibility of playing Rock Falls again.
Not because she doesn't like Rock Falls, but she didn't want her players to be looking past their regional semifinal opponent – which turned out to be Dixon.
The only concession being that if the Warriors won on Tuesday, and the Rockets followed suit in their semifinal, she knew they'd be seeing a very good pitcher.
"I would know," Edmondson said with a laugh.
See, Edmondson gives Rock Falls pitcher Michaela Ward pitching lessons.
In a sense, she helped create the monster.
Ward is lucky softball pitchers aren't paid by the hour, because it took her about 50 minutes to dispatch the Mendota Trojans in the final six innings of the semifinal on Thursday.
The first inning was played on Wednesday before the big Buffalo Wild Wings button in the sky was pushed, and the game was delayed a day because of weather.
She was almost robotic in her delivery. Get ball. Throw ball. Get strike. Repeat.
The Trojans didn't do much to try and disrupt that.
As for Sterling, it didn't take much longer for them to 10-run Dixon on Tuesday.
And so now we can talk about it. Sterling and Rock Falls play Saturday at 1 p.m. for the 3A Rock Falls Regional championship.
It's Rock Falls and Sterling playing in a softball game – in what's turned into an annual clash of the titans.
And while the Warriors have big bats – including Karlie Mellott, who might just be the best non-pitching softball player I've seen produced in this area – it's been bunts the last couple times that have played big roles in Sterling wins.
Last year, Cassidy Gillihan – whose middle name should have been Bunt – laid down a perfect one to reach first in the fifth inning. After stealing second, Mellott drove Gillihan in with a single.
That's proved to be all Sterling needed – although Priscilla Aponte added a home run – in a 2-0 win in the regional championship game.
In the team's previous meeting this season, it was a suicide squeeze by Lauren Fritz that provided the 1-0 win for Sterling.
So one thing is clear – the Warriors have the tools to create a run or two against Ward.
Rock Falls hasn't scored in the last 14 innings against former Sterling pitcher Stephanie Kester and new Sterling pitcher Lexy Staples.
Against Mendota, the Rockets hit the ball hard a few times, but was also helped by five errors by the Trojans.
It's unlikely the Warriors will make that many (if any) errors on Saturday.
So, it's likely the Rockets will need to bunt, hit-and-run, be aggressive with runners on, scratch, claw, do whatever it takes to get a runner safely around the bases.
So, who will win?
I think that's pretty obvious.
The team that scores the first (and maybe only) run.