Daily Chronicle sports editor Ross Jacobson and sports reporter Steve Nitz spend their days covering the area’s sports scene. Occasionally, they give their viewpoints on those local sports. In this installment of their Take 2 column, they discuss the potential of DeKalb softball and Sycamore baseball to win sectional titles.
Jacobson: Steve, we’re down to our last two local teams of the season...and the year. I can’t believe we’re almost finished, but I know soon enough we’ll be talking about football in the fall.
However, the Sycamore baseball team and DeKalb softball team are hoping to put off the offseason chatter for a little longer. Both of these teams had high expectations coming into the season and followed through, each winning regional championships in rather convincing fashion Saturday.
The Barbs play today against Harlem while Sycamore gets Rockford East at home Thursday with potential sectional championships Saturday. Which team do you think has the best chance of adding another sectional plaque to the school trophy case?
Nitz: First of all, I honestly think both teams have a good shot of winning a sectional title. It looks like DeKalb pitcher Katie Kowalski is finally fully healthy, and the Barbs are a very tough team to beat when that’s the case. They also beat Wednesday’s sectional semifinal opponent, Harlem, earlier this season. No team in the Prairie Ridge Sectional is ranked in the Illinois Coaches Association softball poll, so it certainly looks like a title DeKalb could take home.
I really like Sycamore’s chances as well with the Spartans’ pitching staff, but if I had to pick one team, it would be DeKalb softball.
Jacobson: I’ll take the Spartans. They couldn’t wrap up the Northern Illinois Big 12 East title late in the year, but during the regular season I feel like they really never put together a hot streak where everything was clicking.
That could very well be happening right now as Sycamore run-ruled both games on its way to a dominant regional championship. Oh, and they get to play the sectional at home. No long bus rides for the Spartans.
But like you said, I do like the chances of both teams to play into the last week of the 2012-13 high school sports season.
Who’s your x-factor for the Barbs if they are going to win their second sectional title in three years?
Nitz: When I played baseball at Rockford East from 2001-04, the program didn’t win a single regional game. The E-Rabs are much-improved from those days, but I still see the Spartans getting by them, while Burlington Central (16-12) and St. Francis (21-11) are certainly beatable in the sectional title game. Like I said, I really like Sycamore’s chances as well.
With DeKalb, it’s all about Kowalski, who was very good in the regional, allowing just four total runs and striking out 12 hitters in the semifinal win over Huntley. When she’s on, she’s tough to hit, as the Barbs’ postseason opponents found out two years ago. DeKalb also has a nice fallback option if Kowalski gets into trouble in freshman Morgan Newport.
Jacobson: For Sycamore, it’ll be about Cole and Scott Nelson. They’ve been two of the most consistent players for the Spartans this season, and they’ll have to come up with two more strong starts on the mound if Sycamore wants to advance.