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Downers Grove North softball stays at home for first round of playoffs

Downers Grove South will travel to the Batavia regional to start postseason

When the playoffs start next week, Downers Grove North will have home field advantage while Downers Grove South will have a long bus ride to Batavia. The two teams could meet again down the road in the sectional championship game.

Downers Grove North

Class: 4A

Sectional seed: No. 3

Regional: Downers Grove North

Regional opener: 4:30 p.m. Tuesday vs. No. 14 Plainfield North/No. 19 Oswego

What to watch: Based on the sectional seeding, the Trojans are the top team in the regional and they have home-field advantage. Good luck getting North coach Mark Magro or his team to talk about the playoffs ahead of time, though.

"We're not going to look ahead," Magro said. "We've been the No. 1 seed or the No. 2 seed that last couple years, and look where that got us. I tell the girls, we can beat anybody on any given day, but anybody can beat us, too. No game is bigger than the one we're playing today."

Last year the Trojans fell in the regional championship game as a No. 3 seed. Two years ago the same thing happened as a No. 1 seed. They scored three runs in those two games so even though they have a dominant pitcher in Elaine Heflin, Magro is hoping the Trojans can come through with the bats. The lumber seemed to warm up over the weekend when North topped Lemont 6-1.

"I'm hoping we're hitting our stride at the right time," Magro said.

Downers Grove South

Class: 4A

Sectional seed: No. 9

Regional: Batavia

Regional opener: 4:30 p.m. May 22 vs. No. 8 Naperville North

What to watch: After starting the season 5-5, the Mustangs have lost just three times since April 13. South's younger players have improved and have been thrown into the fire of a West Suburban Gold race. In short, Naperville North will face a very different Downers South team than the one it defeated 9-6 on April 9.

"Hopefully we'll look better," South coach Ron Havelka said. "I want to say we're a better team than the one that lost 9-6, but I think all teams are kind of in the same boat. I'm sure they're better, too."

The Mustangs took two from West Suburban Gold-rival Leyden on Saturday to keep surging ahead. They won both games by 10 runs, underscoring a major strength – the bats. South also has another ace up the sleeve, or rather two. Senior Kelly Schmitt and freshman Caroline Hedgcock give the Mustangs a solid 1-2 punch inside the pitcher's circle, a luxury not every team possess. Both have started and won games and pitched in pressure situations this season. In Havelka's experience, playoff success comes down to a couple of factors.

"You've got to be playing really well, that's the key," the coach said. "And you have to be playing really good defense. People say one bad game you're out, but really it's more like one bad inning and you can be done."

If South can top Naperville North, it would move on to the regional championship game at 11 a.m. May 25. The likely foe would be No. 1-seed Naperville Central, which faces either Batavia or Glenbard East in its regional opener.

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