Softball teams are busy preparing for the 2020 season with the state's first games scheduled for Monday. There's no shortage of intriguing matchups featuring area teams and state-title hopefuls before the conference schedule starts in April.
The Northwest Herald softball preview will appear online March 18 and in print March 19, with previews on every local team. Until then, here's a quick look at the top games to watch in the first month of the season.
Richmond-Burton at Crystal Lake South: 4:30 p.m. Tuesday
This early-season game matches up the defending conference champions in the Kishwaukee River Conference and Fox Valley Conference and features a pair of future Wisconsin teammates in R-B senior Peyton Bannon and South junior Brooke Kuffel.
Marengo at Palatine: 4:45 p.m. Tuesday
The Indians always play one of the area’s most challenging nonconference schedules, and this year is no different. Palatine is two years removed from a third-place finish at the Class 4A state tournament. Marengo, which has won 13 straight regional titles, will play down in Class 2A this season.
Huntley vs. Hononegah, at Rosemont: March 26
The defending Class 4A state champions aren’t taking it easy. The Red Raiders hit the road for their first 11 games of the season, and there are no freebies. Hononegah is coming off a 32-win season and handed Huntley one of its seven losses last season.
Huntley at Barrington: March 28
The Raiders got past the Barrington roadblock last postseason in one of the area’s most memorable games, as Teagan O’Rilley fouled off eight pitches before launching a grand slam in an emotional sectional semifinal victory. Barrington had eliminated Huntley from the postseason in each of the previous three seasons. These two always put on a show.
Sycamore at McHenry (DH): March 28
The Warriors came close to ending Huntley’s state-title run last season and will get a tough early-season home test against the defending Class 3A state champions before beginning their FVC schedule.