Another crack at predictions
Last week, I went out on a limb in this column and picked all seven regional baseball and softball championship games that we had local teams in.
Not to brag, but I got all seven right. OK, I am bragging there.
I didn't get the scores correct, but heck, that's nearly impossible. I think my spread was pretty good, for the most part. With that success under my belt, I thought I'd take a stab at Saturday's games.
Here we go:
3A Rochelle Regional
Matchup: Rock Falls vs. Sycamore
The Rockets looked solid in defeating Sterling 5-2 on Thursday. They had solid pitching, good defense and they were smacking the ball all over the place.
If not for a mighty wind and good defense by the Warriors, the final score could have been more lopsided.
Sycamore (23-11) wasted little time in decimating Rochelle 13-1 in five innings on Wednesday. Sycamore lost to the three-win Hubs during the regular season during a stretch when the Spartans were not hitting.
Like Rock Falls pitcher Eddie Nelson, I don't know a lot about the Spartans, but Nelson and I have heard the same thing: They are good.
The Rockets are good too, and I have feeling this is going to be a tight game.
My pick: Rock Falls 5-4
2A Byron Sectional
Matchup: Oregon vs. Byron
There hasn't been a better Cinderella this postseason than the Oregon Hawks, who came into the regional as the No. 5 seed.
They've danced all the way to the sectional championship ball, only to find a familiar partner – the Byron Tigers.
Byron spent much of the Big Northern West season fighting it out with Rock Falls for the conference title.
The Tigers also handed Oregon 6-0 and 4-0 losses during the regular season.
But this is a different Hawks team, one that has been bolstered by the return of Matt Murray on the mound, after he missed much of the season with mono. Oregon has allowed only five runs in four postseason games.
It’s unclear which pitcher the Hawks will start, but one thing’s for sure: They’re gonna have to play some great defense. Byron puts a lot of runners on base and has a knack for moving them over, then bringing them in.
My pick: Byron 3-2
3A Sterling Regional
Matchup: Rock Falls vs. Sterling
You'll find my preview for this game below, and there's not much more I can say about it.
I've covered the other two regional girls games in basketball and volleyball in which these two schools met this school year, and they were both classics.
The volleyball match went three sets, with the Rockets rallying to win after dropping the first set and falling behind in the second.
The Warriors needed overtime to knock the Rockets out in basketball. The momentum of that carried them all the way to the sectional title game.
I could flip a coin on Saturday's game, which has been moved up an hour to 10 a.m. Both teams are good enough to win, and both are capable of making a long, special run that extends past next week.
My thought was that Sterling looked slightly sharper in the semifinal round of regionals, for what that's worth.
My pick: Sterling 6-5
1A Dakota Sectional
Matchup: Milledgeville vs. Orangeville
Last week, I made the Missiles my lock of the day. They hold that spot again. Milledgeville beat Orangeville twice this season without Emily Bush pitching.
Bush will be in the circle Saturday, and so far this postseason, she has been mowing down batters.
I'll say it again, I think Milledgeville is a state-level team, and I don't really see them being stopped until they get to East Peoria.
My pick: Milledgeville 7-1