I can't speak for all sports writers and staffs, but for me there are times when Friday afternoon rolls around and I reflect back at what has happened around the area's high school sports scene, I think to myself, "Boy, this has been quite a week. I wonder what's in store next?"
On Monday I traveled to Earlville to cover the Raiders softball team as they hosted Somonauk in a Little Ten Conference game. As I drove the backroads there, I started to think of the last time, if any, I had covered a softball contest featuring two state-ranked teams like the Lady Bobcats (ICA Class 1A No.1) and Earlville-Leland (ICA Class 1A No. 20) were. The final score didn't really reflect how well played the game was, but after watching them both compete, I wouldn't want either to be my opponent when the regionals come around.
Then on Tuesday afternoon I watched the Streator Bulldogs — coming off a extra-inning road win against Reed-Custer in which they scored 12 runs in the top of the eighth — fall behind by five runs before their first turn at bat against the Comets. The boys in Red and White battled back to tie the game in the seventh and then used a clutch walk-off single by Joey Byers to win it in the eighth. Meanwhile, the Ottawa Lady Pirates were going toe-to-toe with the state's No. 1 Class 3A team in Sterling and used a Molly Harris home run in the seventh to capture a 1-0 Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference win and avenge an earlier loss to the Warriors.
Now Wednesday was my scheduled day off, but after checking off four or five things on my to-do list early, I decided to stop by to check out yet my second contest involving state-ranked teams as the Marquette Lady Crusaders welcomed the Seneca Lady Irish to June Gross Field. The nice crowd on hand saw two teams and two pitchers that will be tough to beat in the postseason in a game that had that "championship game" feel, even though it being just a regular season, nonconference tilt. Seneca got two runs in the sixth to top Marquette 3-2 in a game that will have more at stake next season with the clubs both members of the Tri-County Conference.
It was another banner day on Thursday as well for area teams, starting with the Lady Pirates 3-2 triumph over state-ranked Geneseo at King Field. Jenna Nink's two-run homer in the third inning sparking her club to its 14th win of the season. On the pitch, both the Lady Pirates and Lady Bulldogs were blanking their respective opponents, Ottawa defeating Rochelle 8-0 behind a trio of goals from Kaitlin Falaney, while Streator celebrated senior day with a 7-0 victory over Reed-Custer to improve to 9-1-1.
It was a fun week for sure, and with Mother Nature finally deciding to put winter in her back pocket and let spring begin, it made it all the better.
What will the final weeks of the spring sports season bring? Who will bring home conference, regional, sectional and possibly state championships? Those questions will be answered soon enough, but for right now, I'm just enjoying ride.