GENOA – If Genoa-Kingston High School had an official enrollment with five fewer students, the Cogs softball team's postseason road wouldn't be as many roadblocks.
With an official enrollment of 614, G-K is the second-smallest Class 3A school in the IHSA's softball tournament – a predicament the Cogs found themselves in last season when the IHSA reworked the classifications to balance them out.
Third-seeded G-K (16-11) opens up postseason play today against No. 2 Kaneland in the Class 3A Burlington Central Regional.
"It's a challenge, like when we get into that regional tournament, especially where we're located, it's almost Burlington and Marengo every single year," Lauer said of competing in 3A. "You know it's going to be tough, there's no easy way about it. You just try and prepare the best you can and try and get your schedule set up where you're facing equal teams, and be ready to go at that time."
When Lauer found out his team would be in 3A, he made an adjustment to his nonconference schedule, adding 3A teams like Ottawa, Woodstock North and Belvidere. The Cogs' move to the Big Northern East for the 2011-12 school year also helped, as they were grouped with teams like Marengo – the 2011 Class 3A state champion, and 2012 runner-up, as well as Burlington Central, a perennially strong program.
Cogs senior catcher Paige Keegan said the main difference in classes is the consistent pitching. Today, G-K will most likely face Kaneland junior Angie Morrow, a Wisconsin recruit.
"They have a little more movement, they're quicker [in 3A]," Keegan said. "Some other teams we've played in our conference that are 2A aren't as good. It's like batting practice, let the ball get deep and drive it. But against the better pitching we need to be more selective, find our pitch and battle hard in our counts."
If G-K is going to get through the regional, the Cogs will need starter Baylie Ullmark at her best. A junior, Ullmark has played varsity since her freshman year and now has a veteran's perspective.
"I've got to hit my spots. I've got to do my thing," she said. "As long as the girls are behind me, we're fine."