By Christopher Johnson

The Illinois High School Association Girls Softball State Championship Tournament entered Sectional play this week after Regional Champions around the area were awarded their honors.

On Friday, May 20, the Pecatonica Lady Indians found themselves sidelined as they watched finals day play in the Dakota 1A Regional.

When the post-season began Pecatonica was assigned the duty of traveling to Dakota for participation in the 1A State Tournament.

They were issued the six-seed and that meant an “ok” shot at a potential advancement to Regional Championship status. Polo, which was issued the four-seed, was also given its own chance to advance, though slightly better.

By the time Pecatonica took the field on Tuesday, May 17, they found themselves in the situation of being only one of three teams still standing.

Dakota had won the first Regional Semi-Final earlier in the day, easily out-distancing themselves from eight-seed Kirkland and claiming the Regional Championship visit for its own.

Ashton-Franklin Center and Kirkland-Hiawatha were knocked out. Polo and Pecatonica picked up play shortly after Dakota shot down the Lady Hawks 11-1 in rules-shortened fashion.

Heading into the game, both the Lady Marcos and Lady Indians were well aware that the top seed in the Region was watching.

By the time the Tuesday afternoon affair entered mid-game status, there was still a chance that the upset-minded Lady Indians were close to connecting.

As the late innings arrived and the first cracks at scoring in the seventh were taken, Pecatonica’s situation proved to be highly-unfavorable.

The Lady Marcos managed the match as the final swing was registered. The 8-4 victory pushed Polo past Pecatonica and into the path of the two-seed Lady Indians.

Dakota eventually knocked out Polo, 7-3, to win the 1A Regional and move to the South Beloit 1A Sectional this week, where the Lady Indians are scheduled to face one-seed Orangeville on Wednesday, May 25.

In the somewhat larger world of high school girls’ basketball, Winnebago took its shot at the 2A State Tournament. The Lady Indians paid a visit to Big Northern neighbor Stillman Valley.

The Lady Indians were issued the five-seed due to their head-to-head loss record with favored four-seed Stillman Valley.

In games played on April 25 and April 30, the Lady Indians were outscored by Stillman Valley by a margin of 26-15.

Winnebago was not the same team it seemed to showcase in the late stretch closing schedule against Stillman Valley when second-season action commenced.

In the Tuesday, May 17 meeting, Winnebago refused to allow Stillman Valley’s offense to establish itself. The Lady Cardinals responded in kind, though slightly more stringently.

There were no runs to be had for a majority of the Regional Semi-Final contest. When scoring did occur, it meant everything, even if it was just one run. Stillman Valley got its shot.

Winnebago discovered that the one tally totaled by the four-seed would be enough to close down operations.

As the final pitch was counted, Stillman Valley had knocked out the Lady Indians, closing their 2022 campaign with a mark of 8-13 paired with a sixth-place closing record of 7-10 in the Big Northern.

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