The playoffs have begun in HS baseball and softball, but the excitment ramps up this week with regional champions to be crowned. Next week, it’s the sectionals. Here’s a quick preview on which teams to watch:
Division 1 Chippewa Falls sectional: Top seeds: #1 Stevens Point, #2 EC Memorial. Contenders: any of the top 8 seeds, and that’s not a stretch: consider that #8 River Falls has two regular season wins over ECM. This section is wide-open, but I think the Old Abes have the capability of putting together a good stretch of baseball and will wind up their season at Fox Cities Stadium. But it wouldn’t suprise me if any of the top 8 seeds got through.
Division 2 Barron Sectional: #1 seeds: Hayward, Somerset, Ellsworth, West Salem. Contender: #2 Altoona. There are plenty of good teams in this sectional, but I like what Ellsworth has been able to do during the course of the season. So…look for the Panthers to edge Hayward in a sectional final.
Division 3 Cumberland Sectional: #1 seeds: Grantsburg, Chequamegon, Prescott, Fall Creek. Contenders: #2 Boyceville, #3 Elk Mound. You could certainly make a case for seeding the entire sectional based on how the brackets shook out, with Prescott, Boyceville, & Elk Mound all lumped into the same regional. The bad news for the Bulldogs and Mounders, is that they’ll meet in regional semi, so they’ll have to throw aces Ryan Bloom & Garrett Phillips in that game, instead of in a regional final matchup with Prescott. There are good teams in this sectional, but I think Prescott is the team to beat.
Division 4 Bruce Sectional: #1 seeds: Bruce, Drummond, Elmwood, Greenwood. Contenders: #2 McDonell. The Macks are a 3-time defending state runner-up, and they have the most dominant pitcher in the area (in any division) in 6-7 senior Kyle Cody, who has a good chance of being selected in the MLB draft. The dilemma for McDonell coach Eric Wedemeyer is when to throw Cody. My guess is that the Macks will try to get past EC Immanuel Lutheran without using Cody on the mound, hoping to save him for a regional final with Greenwood. The Indians were able to edge the Macks 9-8 in the regular season, but they didn’t have to face Cody. I’m going with the Macks for 3 reasons: Cody, Wedemeyer’s coaching, and postseason experience.
Division 1 Chippewa Falls Sectional: #1 seeds: Chippewa Falls, D.C. Everest. Notice I did not list any contenders in this section. No disrespect intended to any of the other teams, but in my mind, Chi-Hi is an overwhelming favorite to get back to the Goodman Diamond.
Division 2 Rice Lake Sectional: #1 seeds: Altoona, Baldwin-Woodville, Rice Lake, Mosinee. Contenders: #2 Black River Falls, #2 Tomahawk.
There’s good depth in this sectional with some historically strong programs, but with sophomore Abby Klopp, B-W has a legitimate ace that can carry a team to state. The Blackhawks’ biggest challenge figures to be beating Rice Lake on its home field in a sectional final.
Division 3 Chequamegon Sectional: #1 seeds: Elk Mound, Cadott, Hurley, Grantsburg. Contenders: Colfax, Fall Creek, Ladysmith. Another section with good depth, but Grantsburg seems to be the best team in this bracket. The Pirates’ only losses this season were to Division 2 Baldwin-Woodville and Division 1 Superior, both by a 6-3 margin. Among Grantsburg’s 20 wins are some impressive performances against much bigger schools.
Division 3 Necedah Sectional: Keep an eye on #1 seed Neillsville, which has quietly put together a 20-1 regular season.
Division 4 Gilman Sectional: #1 Seeds: Shell Lake, Northwood, Cornell, Thorp. Contender: #2 McDonell Central. If momentum counts for anything, I like Thorp, which closed the season by winning 6 of 7 games, scoring in double figures in 5 of those contests. If the Cardinals can throw strikes and make defensive plays, they’ll be playing in the state tournament.
Division 4 Boscobel Sectional: #1 seeds: Cochrane-Fountain City, New Lisbon, DeSoto, Belmont. Contender: #2 Pepin/Alma. The best game of this entire bracket sets up to be a regional final between C-FC & Pepin/Alma. The Pirates won the regular season matchup, 7-4, part of a stretch in which the Eagles dropped 2 of their final 5 games. I’m thinking that C-FC gets through that game and advances to state, although New Lisbon & Belmont will be major roadblacks.
Agree? Disagree? Want to share your picks? Use the comment section below.
See you at the ballgames!
Posted under Hometown Sports
This post was written by bbradovich on May 29, 2012