Downers Grove North and Downers Grove South are separated by a set of train tracks and a couple busy streets, but when they open the playoff next week the Trojans will head west while South goes east. The teams could meet again in the sectional round of the postseason if they both win regional titles.
Downers Grove South
Sectional seed: No. 1
Regional: Hinsdale Central
Regional opener: 4 p.m. May 22 vs. No. 16 Bolingbrook/No. 18 Plainfield East
What to watch: If the goal is to enter the playoffs playing the best ball of the season, then Downers Grove South is certainly right there. The Mustangs have won nine of their last 12 games, and one of the other three was a tie in a game that was called because of darkness. The Mustangs have also scored six or more runs in all but two games in May (as of May 12). They have swung the bats well, but there is more to fear for playoff opponents.
"We've been getting a lot of quality games out of these guys, and it's different guys each day," South coach Darren Orel said. "It's not the same guys always stepping up, and that's a good thing. It shows some depth."
The depth extends beyond the batter's box. Pitchers Brian Glowicki, Zach Burdi and Danny Mayer are all Division I recruits, Zach Taylor has been a solid starter all season, and Nick Alfini is a stopper out of the bullpen. Burdi and Mayer also happen to be sluggers at the plate, and they've produced all season.
With a win in the regional semifinal, the Mustangs will move on to face either Waubonsie Valley or Hinsdale Central in the championship game at 11 a.m. May 25. South topped Central 5-2 on May 1.
Downers Grove North
Sectional seed: No. 4
Regional opener: 4:15 p.m. May 22 vs. No. 13 Plainfield Central/No. 20 Oswego
What to watch: Downers Grove North hasn't played either of its potential playoff opponents this season, but that doesn't bother coach Chad Isaacson. All season long, he's said he's most worried about his team and the next game. Nothing else matters.
"Every game bears importance as far as how we go about our business, but we don't look any farther than who we're playing today," Isaacson said.
The Trojans have gone 3-5 in their last eight games dating to May 2, but they have shown throughout the season that they have the winning formula. The lineup has been consistent all spring, and conference starting pitchers Troy Southard, Mike O'Malley and Lucas Fisher kept North in contention in the West Suburban Silver race. No matter who the Trojans face, that team should be prepared for a battle.
"We've continued to fight," Isaacson said. "We've been down in games and we've continued to come back."
If North can win the playoff opener, it would move on to the regional championship game at 10 a.m. May 25, where No. 5 seed Hinsdale South would be the likely opponent.