Fred Kroner's spring postseason primer
Central baseball chases history
As playoffs get underway for the area’s many high school spring sports teams, the spotlight is shining on a Champaign Central baseball team on pace to set a school record for wins.
The postseason path for the area’s Class 3A baseball schools — including 26-1 Central — is to start with the Mahomet-Seymour Regional, continue with the Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin Sectional and then feature a super-sectional at Sauget’s GCS Park, near St. Louis.
Since beginning baseball in 1904, Central has enjoyed six 20-win seasons in baseball, including this one.
The single-season mark (30-7) was set by coach John Staab’s 2006 team.
Alec Altmyer and Zach Dorner each have thrown no-hitters this spring, giving the Maroons 36 all-time no-hitters.
What a pairing!
The area’s best softball team — recordwise — is 22-0 Salt Fork, which earned the No. 1 seed for the Class 1A Toledo Cumberland Regional. The host school is the second-seeded team, even though in this week’s Class 1A state poll, Cumberland is top-ranked. Salt Fork was listed seventh in the state poll. Did we mention that the winner of the Toledo Cumberland Regional advances to the Toledo Cumberland Sectional?
A 2A regional that rates
Among regional sites in which area Class 2A softball teams will compete, the most challenging will be at Monticello. The host Sages are top-seeded, Maroa-Forsyth is the No. 2 seed and Tuscola’s 20-win squad is third. The Warriors’ Anna Watson is already top five for a season in the IHSA for stolen bases (76) and on the move. In this week’s state poll, Monticello is ranked seventh and Maroa-Forsyth is rated eighth.
If Salt Fork’s baseball team is to return to state as a farewell sendoff for retiring coach Gary Hansgen, the team won’t need to travel far. Salt Fork is hosting a Class 1A regional tournament at its Jamaica High School field. That winner moves into a sectional hosted by Schlarman at Danville Stadium, and that survivor qualifies for a super-sectional at the University of Illinois. Salt Fork placed fourth at state last spring. Two current seniors, Ross Learnard and Cole Taylor, were All-Area first-teamers. The Illini’s home field also will be the site for a Class 4A super-sectional.
No courts, no problem
Champaign Central has no tennis courts on its high school campus, but the school will host a 12-team boys’ sectional in two weeks. Matches will be contested on the UI campus at Atkins Tennis Center. Coach Scott Davis’ Maroons are trying to match their school record for consecutive sectional tennis titles. From 1985 to ’89, the school won five in a row. Of interest is how the coaches play their lineup (either singles or doubles). Central’s Austin Aten is a two-time singles sectional champion. In last year’s finals, he beat Centennial’s Sunny Singh, who was the 2012 singles winner. St. Thomas More’s Travis Tressler is seeking his third state berth in singles.
Status quo in 1A girls’ track
The qualifying standards are virtually unchanged for the state’s small-school female athletes. Of the 18 contested events, just one (300-meter hurdles) has a tougher automatic mark than in 2013. The only time to qualify is at the sectionals, which start Thursday at some sites. Winners in each event advance regardless of their performance. Others who meet or exceed predetermined standards also reserve their ticket to state. For 300-meter hurdlers in Class 1A, that means a time of 49.04 seconds. Six marks were altered for Class 2A girls, but the 300 hurdles was not one of them. The standards were stiffened in the shot put, 400 meters, 1,600 meters, 3,200 meters, 100 hurdles and the 3,200 relay. Paxton-Buckley-Loda’s girls’ sectional will be Thursday. St. Joseph-Ogden’s is next Friday.