3A Sterling Regional
Rock Falls (22-10) vs. Rochelle (9-17)
When: 11 a.m. Saturday
Where: Gartner Park
Players to watch: Austin Donoho, Rock Falls sr. P/IF; Dallas Jones, Rock Falls sr. 2b; Dustin Huycke, Rock Falls sr. OF/P; Tyler Joyce, Rochelle sr. P if; Aaron Mehrings, Rochelle if; Jake Ryan, Rochelle sr. OF
Outlook: Joyce appears to be the Hubs ace, but he worked six innings in the Hubs 3-1 win over Freeport on Thursday. It's likely the Rockets will start Cayden Erickson, but can go back to Donoho, since he limited his innings against Sterling on Thursday. On paper, the Rockets appear to be heavy favorites, but games are played on fields. If the Rockets play error-free ball, and don't allow Rochelle any early momentum, it seems likely they'll be headed the sectional round.
SVM prediction: Rock Falls 6-2
Advancement: Winner to Rochelle Sectional vs. Belvidere North Regional winner, 4 p.m. Thursday, June 5.
3A Rock Falls Regional
Rock Falls (22-9) vs. Sterling (26-8)
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Where: Hinders Field, Rock Falls
Players to watch: Julie Dodd, Rock Falls sr. 3B/P; Shannon Long, Sterling so. OF; Karlie Mellott, Sterling sr. SS; Paige Reynolds, Rock Falls sr. OF; Lexy Staples, Sterling fr. P; Michaela Ward, Rock Falls jr. P
Outlook: A clash of two of the area's finest programs is fitting way to close out regional play for the school year. Ward and Staples have been two of the top pitchers in northern Illinois this season, and scoring runs will be very difficult. It will be imperative for defenses to not make errors behind them. This game will likely come down to be able to execute small-ball plays in key situations. In the past, Sterling has excelled in that area, while the Rockets have struggled.
SVM prediction: Sterling 1-0
Advancement: Winner to Marengo Sectional vs. Burlington Central Regional winner, 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 3.
1A Pearl City Sectional
Amboy (20-9) vs. Orangeville ()
When: 11 a.m. Saturday
Where: Pearl City H.S.
Players to watch: Tori Clark, Orangeville so. P; Karlee Doege, Amboy fr. P; Emily Diffenderfer, Orangeville fr. IF; Kaitlyn Liebing, Amboy jr. C; Destinee Oenes, Amboy sr. 3B; Kaylee Sager, Orangeville so. P
Outlook: The Clippers are hunting for their first sectional championship, and they are coming off a dismantling of Hiawatha in the semifinal. Orangeville likes to split the game in the circle between Clark and Sager, but Pearl City nearly rallied against Sager in the seventh on Tuesday with three runs. Orangeville survived, winning 4-3. The key for Amboy will be getting the bats going against a tough pitching combination.
SVM prediction: Amboy 5-4
Advancement: Winner to DeKalb Supersectional vs. Putnam County Sectional winner, 4:30 p.m. Monday