Athlete of the Week
Ben Harris, Prairie Ridge, sr., P-1B
Harris came up big for the Wolves, who had to sweep Cary-Grove for a share of the Fox Valley Conference championship last week, and did it.
Harris had a hit and an RBI in Tuesday’s 11-2 win over the Trojans, then was 2 for 4 with a triple and an RBI in Wednesday’s 9-0 victory.
On Thursday, Harris was at his best against C-G ace Quinn Priester. It was a classic pitching duel, and Harris struck out eight, walked one and allowed three hits. The Wolves scratched out four unearned runs against Priester.
Northwest Herald Power Rankings
1. Huntley (26-9): The Red Raiders won their fourth consecutive FVC championship and are looking for their fourth straight Class 4A regional title.
2. Prairie Ridge (25-9): The Wolves won six of their last seven FVC games to grab a share of the conference title with Huntley. Prairie Ridge owns a run differential of plus-152 for the season.
3. Crystal Lake South (21-10): The Gators got hot at the right time, winning 10 of their past 11 games heading into their first-round regional game with Johnsburg on Tuesday.
4. McHenry (22-13): The Warriors bounced back from losing five out of six games to defeat Crystal Lake Central and Hampshire in its final two regular-season games.
5. Cary-Grove (20-13): The Trojans lost eight of their last 10 regular-season games and are searching for the team they were when they were leading the FVC.
Postseason talk: FVC co-champions Huntley (Class 4A) and Prairie Ridge (3A) look like the conference’s best teams with a chance to advance to the IHSA State Tournament in Joliet, to which the FVC has been no stranger.
The FVC has won a sectional in eight of the past 10 seasons and advanced a team to state in six of those years. Huntley was 4A runner-up last year; Crystal Lake South won the 4A state championship in 2017.
Prairie Ridge coach Glen Pecoraro was excited after the Wolves swept C-G on Thursday.
“This is what you do all the work for in the offseason,” Pecoraro said. “You hit, you lift, you try to get the boys to believe in each other. We found a level of consistency at the end, and we were fortunate to pull it off.”
McHenry and Hampshire have the pitching aces to make things difficult on postseason opponents in 4A. South has been the area’s hottest team over the past three weeks and has dropped to 3A this year.
What to Watch
Class 4A DeKalb Regional: Huntley is the top seed and could see Belvidere North or DeKalb in Saturday’s 11 a.m. championship game.
Class 4A Grant Regional: Cary-Grove, the top seed, meets Crystal Lake Central on Wednesday with a chance to make it to Saturday’s 11 a.m. final.
Class 4A Dundee-Crown Regional: McHenry is seeded fourth, while Barrington gets the No. 1 spot. They could meet at 11 a.m. Saturday for the championship.
Class 4A Harlem Regional: Hononegah and Hampshire are the top seeds at Nos. 2-3 in the regional and could meet at 4:30 p.m. Saturday for the title.
Class 3A Crystal Lake South Regional: South meets the winner between Vernon Hills and Woodstock North in Saturday’s 11 a.m. championship game.
Class 3A Prairie Ridge Regional: Prairie Ridge and Antioch met for the Chicago Lake View Sectional championship last year. This time, they could meet a week earlier for the regional title at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Class 3A Richmond-Burton Regional: Thursday’s matchup between R-B and Marengo is intriguing. The Rockets finished second in the Kishwaukee River Conference, but the Indians have won 10 of their past 11 games.