It's said that the fastest weeks of the school year are the 10 weeks of regular-season high school football. While that is always true, the past eight weeks known as the spring sports season has flown past in the blink of an eye.
This coming week begins sectional tournaments for baseball and softball, and for the girls of the diamond, there are some early-round matchups that are quite intriguing.
The winner of most improved program this year goes to the Warren G. Harding Raiders. As of Saturday, the Raiders are 18-4 and 12-0 in the Lake Erie League. Harding received a bye in the sectional semifinals and will wait to play the winner of Howland and Boardman. If the Raiders would win the sectional final contest, it would move them to the district semifinal for just the second time since 2003 - the farthest the program has ever advanced. The Raiders are moving in the right direction, and a strong showing in tournaments would put the icing on the cake of a great season.
The Division II Alliance district final could very well be a rematch of last year's district final between the top seeds of Poland and Canfield. The only difference between this year and 2012 is that Canfield is the favorite. The Cardinals defeated the Bulldogs both times they played this year. If the two teams were to meet for the third time at Alliance High School, there is no doubt the game will be one of the best games of the season.
The South Range district in Division III might have the most interesting matchups in all of the brackets, making it hard to predict which teams will battle for the right to go to the Massillon regional.
The top half of the bracket is South Range's to lose. The top-seeded Raiders have been playing stellar ball this year behind the pitching of four-year starter Carly DeRose and their potent offense, led by Darrian Yanek and Stevie Taylor. However, the bottom half of the bracket could go to a number of teams.
Girard likely will beat Campbell in the sectional semifinal and will advance to take on All-American Conference, National Division rival Newton Falls in the sectional final. That game is a pick em' contest as it will be a pitchers' duel between Newton Falls' Bailey Shade and Girard's Neco Maderitz. The winner of that contest will likely face Ursuline in the district semifinal. The Fighting Irish are no strangers to deep runs in the tournament and have a quality pitcher in Makayla Shore. Whichever team comes out of the bottom half of the bracket is likely to play South Range, will be involved in one of the better games in this year's tournament.
As for Division IV, all eyes are on the Mathews Mustangs. The Division IV state runner up from 2012 will not be satisfied until they are back in Akron vying for a chance at the state title. However, before they can concentrate on competition at Firestone Park, they have to worry about making it out of their district.
The Mustangs will likely face John F. Kennedy in the sectional final. The Eagles have been flying under the radar this season, due to the fact they play a majority of their games against Cleveland catholic schools. But the Eagles feature promising pitcher in Makayla Kroll and have put up good offense this season. This could be a interesting matchup early in the tournament.
If Mathews makes it to the district final, it will likely face rival Bristol. The teams split this year, with Mathews winning the first game and Bristol winning this past week. The rubber match, if it happens, could be epic.
This time of the season is one of the most exciting times of the year. There's always one team that will surprise people and more than likely, a team will end up in Akron playing for a state title. The question is now who will that team be.