Prep baseball: Illini Prairie Conference race wide open

Prep baseball: Illini Prairie Conference race wide open

Area prep baseball programs are rapidly approaching — or have already reached — single-digit territory when it comes to regular-season games remaining. That means it's a good time for preps coordinator COLIN LIKAS to offer some thoughts as squads head down 2018's homestretch:

Triple the fun

Duff Hoel's Tuscola team became the first in east central Illinois to 20 victories with a 15-2 triumph at Central A&M on Monday. The Warriors (21-2) have 11 games remaining before they take part in Class 2A playoff action. Could they reach 30 wins? It likely would make Tuscola among the 2A favorites as it vies for its first state tournament appearance since 2012.

Mixing things up

Jon Donovan's Rantoul outfit is having an up-and-down campaign at 7-6, but the Eagles are a big reason the first-ever Illini Prairie Conference race is wide open. Two of Rantoul's victories have come against Monticello and St. Joseph-Ogden, arguably the league leaders. That adds even more importance to when SJ-O (15-8) visits Monticello (18-2) on May 3.

Turning the corner?

After placing fourth at the Class 3A state tournament last year, there were high hopes for John Staab's 2018 Champaign Central club. But ample challenges have existed for the Maroons (10-11), who carry two losses to Danville and one to Centennial amid a 3-4 start to Big 12 Conference play. Perhaps a 3-2 home victory over Bloomington on Tuesday will flip the switch.

Who wants the VVC?

Area small-school baseball is perhaps no better than in the Vermilion Valley Conference right now. Salt Fork, Hoopeston Area, Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman, Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin and Oakwood all could be serious postseason threats. But when it comes to the regular-season crown, the Storm (12-5) and Cornjerkers (10-3) have the upper hand. Good thing they meet May 7 in Hoopeston.