DOWNERS GROVE – Softball in Downers Grove is worthy of primetime treatment.
On Thursday night, the lights will shine on the softball teams from Downers Grove North and Downers Grove South as the two teams are scheduled to meet at McCollum Park.
In addition to rekindling the crosstown rivalry, the game will be a celebration of all levels of softball in Downers Grove.
“It’s going to be DOLLS night so they’re all going to be there,” North coach Mark Magro said of the Downers Grove-based youth softball program. “There’s going to be raffles between innings and tons of other stuff.”
The Trojans played under the lights at Doerhoefer Park in April 2012, topping Plainfield East 5-0. North and South started a night game last year at Doerhoefer before rain and lightning forced the contest to be canceled, but that little bit was enough to spur the idea of Thursday’s night game.
“You couldn’t even park at Doerhoefer,” Magro said. “People were parked all the way down by Ogden.”
“I think it will be good. It’ll be fun,” South coach Ron Havelka said. “Hopefully we get good weather.”
The pageantry and intensity of a crosstown game will make the night special, but Havelka is telling his team to approach it as it would any other game. After all, the two teams are in the same sectional and could meet again soon in the playoffs, which begin May 20.
“Of course you want to win a crosstown game, but we might meet in the regional or sectional, so that’s when it really counts,” Havelka said. “Playing a good team like Downers Grove North in May is a good warmup for the regionals.”
The steady approach is necessary for Havelka and the Mustangs, who were scheduled to play seven games in six days with the game against the Trojans being the fourth game in four days. South (11-7 as of Monday) also was looking to rebound from a pair of weekend losses to Oswego East.
North (17-7) had road conference games against York (Monday) and Oak Park-River Forest (4:30 p.m. Wednesday), the two teams chasing the Trojans in the West Suburban Silver, scheduled before playing South. The Trojans won’t turn their attention to the Mustangs until finishing the OPRF game.
“Our first goal is winning conference,” Magro said. “For a school that had never won conference before, to win our fourth in a row is our first goal.”
Once game time rolls around, however, the crosstown showdown promises to be a memorable event.
“I think it’s a great thing for softball and a great thing for Downers Grove when you can do this and it’s North vs. South,” Magro said.
“I know the kids will get fired up for it,” Havelka said. “It’s always going to be competitive no matter what when teams from North and South have a game against each other.”