IHSA Opening Week: Fast Starts; Teams To Watch


By Drew Locascio and Andy Sroka
Illinois Staff

There has been nowhere near enough game plays in the first week of the season to warrant a Power 25 update. Instead, we take a look at some notable first week performances throughout the Power 25 as well as some bubble teams who have made statements to start the season. Some of the hottest teams across the state mentioned below.

POWER 25 

+ No. 1 St. Charles North (5-0): The North Stars are taking care of business to start the season, the way you would expect a No. 1 team to; They are 5-0 with a three-game sweep of Wheaton Warrenville South and wins over No. 24 Jacobs 7-3 and Neuqua 16-4. In total, the North Stars have outscored opponents 47-12.

+ No. 6 Huntley (4-0): The Red Raiders took care of business on Saturday knocking off a talented No. 17 Homewood-Flossmoor club 8-1. Their toughest game so far was a 5-4 extra-inning win over Neuqua Valley. In total they have outscored opponents 42-5.

+ No. 7 Marist (4-0): The Red Hawks ran the table in the Do It Stevie’s Way Tournament which featured a plethora of teams in the Preseason Power 25. En-route to the Championship, Marist knocked off No. 10 St. Rita 6-5, De La Salle 12-5, No. 5 Providence Catholic 2-0 and came back late to take down No. 2 Brother Rice 5-3 in the Championship. Click Here for more on the Championship game. Marist is back in action today against fellow undefeated opponent No. 16 Lincoln-Way East.

+ No. 16 Lincoln-Way East (4-0): The Griffins have had little trouble in their four games so far, outscoring their opponents 40-6. The Griffins have only given up more than one run in one of their games so far with wins over Bartlett, Crete-Monee, Oak Forest and TF South. 

+ No. 19 Sacred Heart-Griffin (4-0): The Cyclones have four quality wins against traditionally competitive programs: No. 25 Normal West, Normal Community, and a pair over Alton. Outside of a 17-9 slugfest against Normal Community, SHG’s rotation has been putting its offense in a position to win its games. We anticipated the Cyclones to roster one of 2A’s top daily lineups, but they’ve been overwhelmingly good so far, having scored 47 runs in just four contests. After a mid-week meeting with Champaign Central, they’ll play their second ranked opponent of the year on Friday, against No. 8 Edwardsville.

+ No. 22 Nazareth Academy (4-0): The Roadrunners entered the spring season with an exciting roster, considering that they planned on relying on a large number of underclassmen to play critical roles on the daily squad. So far, so good, as Nazareth has won its first four games, while they’ve limited their opponents to just three runs. Freshmen arms have been both very effective and regularly featured, while go-to senior RHP Ryan Smith was credited with one of the season’s most impressive outings during opening week, in a 4-0 win against Fenwick, when he limited the Friars to one baserunner, via a walk, and K’d 10 in five innings. The Roadrunners’ young offense has also been up to the task, with 27 runs scored across this span, too.


BUBBLE TEAMS

Below are some teams that were on our radar before the season started and have gotten off to hot starts. There are also a number of teams who simply have not accumulated enough games as of now, to be truly evaluated. 

+ Lake Park (6-0): The Lancers of Lake Park were able to get six games in on opening week and won them all. They are a primed candidate to make noise in the Power 25 if they can keep up their hot start. Mason Baer has been all everything for the Lancers entering Sunday a perfect 10-for-10 from the plate with three doubles, two triples, six RBI’s, nine runs and four walks. He also now has three saves on the mound. Lake Park has wins over Bartlett, Schaumburg, Conant, St. Viator and two wins over St. Charles East.

+ Grayslake Central (5-0): The Rams of Grayslake Central are one of the hottest teams in the state to start the year. Their biggest win came against No. 18 Libertyville by a score of 5-4. They have also knocked off Moline 19-3 and Round Lake three times. 

+ Naperville Central (3-0): The Redhawks upset No. 20 Joliet Catholic 5-4 on opening day and have not looked back. They proceeded to take their next two games from Plainfield East by the scores of 12-3 and 4-3. 

+ Mundelein (3-0): The Mustangs are outsourcing opponents 26-4 to start the season with their three wins coming over Vernon Hills, McHenry and Crystal Lake Central. 

+ Marian Catholic: (2-1): The Spartans were a roster full of talent that just missed out on the Preseason Power 25. They made an early statement with a 2-1 win over No. 4 Mount Carmel and went on to knock off Montini Catholic 9-6 to advance to the semi-finals of the Do It Stevie’s Way Tournament. They eventually fell to No. 2 Brother Rice 10-6 but the Spartans should be closely followed moving forward.

+ Glenbrook North (2-0): North has put up double digit runs in both of their wins so far this season, knocking off Loyola 11-7 and Buffalo Grove 13-7 to start off the year. The Spartans are led on the mound by senior Arizona commit, LHP Eric Orloff.

+ Plainfield Central (2-0): The Wildcats are another team who have put up double digit runs in their first two games of the season. Central knocked off West Chicago 12-0 and took down Bradley-Bourbonnais 11-4.

+ Oswego (3-0): The Panthers look like they should be a team to watch in 2021 with wins over No. 20 Joliet Catholic, Naperville North and Neuqua Valley.

+ Washington (1-1): A split against the No. 3 team in the Preseason Power 25, deserves some attention. The Panthers lost 4-0 in the first game of a double header and came back to knock off Normal University 2-1 behind a strong pitching performance from RHP/SS Easton Harris.

Moline (3-1): The Maroons came to St. Viator this weekend with a 2-0 record before splitting on Saturday. Moline knocked of St. Viator 10-8 but then lost to Grayslake Central on Saturday. Before the weekend they defeated Limestone 10-3 and United Township 4-2.

+ St. Joseph-Ogden (3-0): The Spartans have made a statement to start the year, outscoring their three opponents, who all play in classes above the Spartans, 35-6. The 2A perennial power, led by senior Illinois commit, RHP Crayton Burnett, looks like they should be one of the favorites once again in the class.  

+ Naperville North (3-1): Coach Chiappetta has the Huskies off to one of their best starts in recent memories, including a 1-0 win over No. 15 Oswego East. The Huskies also have wins over Romeoville and East Aurora, with their lone loss coming to Oswego. 

There are sure to be plenty of other teams making statements over the coming weeks.

CLICK HERE for an in-depth look at the Preseason Power 25.

RELATED CONTENT