Prep Softball

Five things to watch for in Illinois prep softball regionals

By Herald-Whig
Posted: May. 12, 2019 12:01 am Updated: May. 12, 2019 12:33 am

Does Central's title streak end?

The Panthers have won five consecutive Class 1A regional championships and have played for the sectional title the last three seasons.

Winning a sixth regional will be a tough task.

Central is the No. 3 seed in the Payson Regional, and it'll have to go through the hosts if it wants to make another run at a sectional title. Central isn't built like its last three teams that won 30 games apeice. The Panthers enter the postseason 17-16, their fewest victories since 2013.

Three-time Herald-Whig Player of the Year Jacey Nall was impetus for Central's success, but she graduated and the pitching duties have fallen on Makayla Crim and Haley Cramer. Central's youthful nature makes winning a regional title tough, but don't expect any team coached by Amy Hildebrand to be down for long.


Can Payson Seymour make a deep run?

The Indians are one of the deeper teams in the area this season, and they're primed to capture they're first regional title since 2012 when they finished second in Class 1A.

Payson is the No. 2 seed in its sub-sectional and gets the benefit of hosting the regional. They're 14-4 entering the postseason, and those losses came against Quincy High School, Quincy Notre Dame, Unity and West Hancock. The loss to QND snapped a 10-game winning streak that included avenging the Unity loss.

Tori Schieferdecker has been dominant in the pitching circle, going 10-2 with a 1.00 ERA in 83 2/3 innings. She's struck out 121 and walked just 21. Offensively, the Indians are solid as Lauryn Hinthrone enjoys a .517 batting average. Seven different players have driven in at least 11 runs, and nine have double-digit hits.


Can Unity go on wild ride too?

There's a possibility for an all-Adams County sectional final if the Mustangs get hot.

Unity has the pieces to do it, and it starts with pitcher Addison Miller. The senior has logged 111 innings this spring, and is 10-8 with a 1.76 ERA. She's fanned 176 to just 47 walks. Miller leads the Mustangs on offense with a .459 batting average, 10 doubles, two triples, seven homers and 32 RBIs.

That's helped Unity grab the top seed in the Class 1A Brown County Regional. The Mustangs are 2-0 against regional foes.


Will Illini West get another regional title?

The Chargers are enjoying their best run in program history. They've won four straight regional championships and have won at least 25 games each season in that stretch. They've reached 25 victories again this season.

However, Illini West hasn't broken through to capture a sectional crown. The pieces might be there to do it this time.

Ali Bliss and Daytona Dooley have led the offense this season by hitting .557 and .516, respectively. They've combined for 15 doubles, six triples and 42 RBIs. Dooley leads the team with nine homers. Illini West has three others hitting better than .400.

Elizabeth Talley and Brooke Lawson have created a 1-2 punch in the circle. Both have thrown 90 innings and have combined for 197 strikeouts.

Illini West is the top seed and is hosting a Class 2A regional. A potential matchup with QND looms in the championship.


Can West Hancock live up to seeding?

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises of the season as been the young Titans.

They'd like to see that carry over into regional play. West Hancock is the No. 2 seed in its sub-sectional in the Class 2A Rushville-Industry Regional.

The resume that got the Titans that seed is impressive. West Hancock picked up victories against Payson Seymour, Unity, QND and QHS this season. Payson, Unity and QND are all top-3 seeds in their respective sub-sectionals.