Baseball notebook: Area coaches reach career milestones

Morris head coach Todd Kein heads to third base against Coal City on Saturday, April 13, 2024

As the 2024 season draws to a close, a couple of area coaches have reached career milestones.

Morris head coach Todd Kein recently became the school’s career wins leader, surpassing the mark held by Denny Steele, who won 329 games, including a Class AA state title in 1994 and a second-place finish in 1992. Kein, whose team is 22-3, now has 342 wins, and Morris recently clinched its second straight Interstate 8 Conference championship.

“The record is nice, but it just means that I have been doing this for a long time and I have had good players,” Kein said.

Dwight head coach Jerry McDowell, who spent the majority of his career as the head coach at Coal City, recently posted his 600th varsity win. He has guided the Trojans to a 22-10 record this season.

POSTSEASON PAIRINGS

The IHSA baseball postseason is upon us, with Classes 1A and 2A beginning regional play this week and Classes 3A and 4A starting next week.

As always, any team that makes it out of a regional or sectional in the Herald-News area will have earned it. The area is always loaded with high-quality teams, and this year is no exception.

CLASS 4A

In Class 4A, Providence Catholic hosts a sectional that will take on the winner of the Reavis Sectional in the Ozinga Field Supersectional. The Providence Sectional features regionals at Andrew, Providence, Lincoln-Way Central and Sandburg, and teams in the Herald-News coverage area are the top seed at each regional.

At the Andrew Regional, Joliet West, seeded third in the sectional, will play No. 14 Joliet Central at 4:30 p.m. May 22. The winner of the game plays the winner of May 23′s No. 6 Andrew vs. No. 11 TF South game in the 11 a.m. May 25 title game. At the Providence Regional, the No. 2 Celtics will play May 22 at 4 against the winner of May 20’s game between No. 18 Eisenhower and No. 15 Shepard in one semifinal, with No. 8 Richards playing No. 10 Oak Lawn at Richards the same day at 4:30. The two semifinal winners play at Providence on at 11 a.m. May 25.

Joliet West's Cael Karczewski heads to home plate during the non-conference game against Lockport on Saturday, April. 27, 2024, at Lockport.

At the Lincoln-Way Central Regional, if the seeds hold true, it will be an all-District 210 championship game as No. 4 Lincoln-Way Central takes on No. 13 Bloom on at 4:30 p.m. May 22, with No. 5 Lincoln-Way East playing No. 12 Stagg at 7 p.m. The two winners play at 11 a.m. May 25. At the Sandburg Regional, top-seeded Lincoln-Way West will play the winner of Monday’s No. 17 Rich Township vs. No. 16 Thornwood game in one of the semifinals at 4:30 p.m. May 22. No. 8 Sandburg will play No. 9 Marist in the other semifinal May 23, with the two semifinal winners playing at 11 a.m. May 25 for the title.

In the Plainfield North Sectional, there will be regionals at Waubonsie Valley, Plainfield North, Bolingbrook and Neuqua Valley. The winner of the sectional will play the winner of the Illinois Wesleyan Sectional in the Illinois Wesleyan Supersectional.

At the Plainfield North Regional, No. 3 Downers Grove South will play No. 15 Romeoville at 4:30 p.m. May 22, with No. 7 Plainfield North playing No. 11 Naperville North on at 4:30 p.m. May 23. The two winners play for the title at 10 a.m. May 25. In the Neuqua Valley Regional, No. 4 Lockport plays No. 14 West Aurora at 4:30 p.m. May 22, with No. 5 Yorkville taking on No. 12 Neuqua Valley on May 23 and the two winners play fore the title at 10 a.m. May 25. In the Bolingbrook Regional, No. 13 Bolingbrook plays No. 17 Plainfield East on May 21, with the winner playing No. 1 Downers Grove North on May 22. No. 8 Oswego East plays No. 9 Naperville Central on May 23, with the Wednesday and Thursday winners playing at 11 a.m. May 25 for the title.

Minooka is the No. 2 seed in the Illinois Wesleyan Sectional and will play in the Bradley-Bourbonnais Regional on May 22 against the winner of Monday’s No. 9 Bradley-Bourbonnais vs. No. 8 Plainfield South game. Thursday’s semifinal game will feature No. 3 East Moline United vs. No. 6 Plainfield Central, and the semifinal winners will play at 11 a.m. May 25 for the title.

CLASS 3A

Two-time defending Class 2A state champion Joliet Catholic Academy has moved up to Class 3A this season and is the No. 1 seed in the Washington Sectional. Morris, meanwhile, is seeded second, setting up a possible showdown in the sectional title game.

Joliet Catholic’s Lucas Simulick reaches for the wide throw against Minooka in the WJOL tournament championship on Saturday, March 30, 2024 in Joliet.

JCA plays eighth-seeded Pontiac in the semifinal of the Pontiac Regional at 4:30 p.m. May 22, while No. 4 Kankakee and No. 7 Streator play in the other semifinal at 4:30 p.m. May 23. The two winners play at 11 a.m. May 25 for the title.

In the La Salle-Peru Regional, Morris takes on No. 6 La Salle-Peru on at 4 p.m. May 22 in the first semifinal, with No. 3 Plano and No. 5 Ottawa playing in the other at 6:30 p.m. The two semifinal winners play at 11 a.m. May 25 for the title.

Lemont also hosts a regional in the Evergreen Park Sectional. Lemont, seeded fourth, plays No. 13 Chicago Bogan at 4:30 p.m. May 22, with No. 5 Tinley Park playing Chicago Kennedy in the other semifinal at 4:30 p.m. May 23. The title game is at 10 a.m. May 25.

CLASS 2A

In Class 2A, all of the area teams play in the Beecher Sectional.

Seneca is seeded third in the Herscher Regional and will play the winner of Tuesday’s No. 10 Momence vs. No. 5 Herscher game in Thursday’s semifinal. The title game is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday.

In the Reed-Custer Regional, No. 11 Peotone plays No. 9 Reed-Custer on Tuesday, with the winner taking on top-seeded Wilmington on Wednesday. In Thursday’s semifinal, No. 4 Coal City will play No. 7 Beecher. The title game will be at 11 a.m. Saturday.

CLASS 1A

In Class 1A, Dwight and Gardner-South Wilmington are in the Illinois Wesleyan Sectional. Dwight, the No. 2 seed, will play Wednesday in the Roanoke-Benson Regional semifinals against the winner of Tuesday’s No. 10 Streator Woodland vs. No. 8 Peoria Heights game. Thursday’s semfinal features No. 3 Roanoke-Benson vs. No. 5 Peoria Christian, with the two semifinal winners playing in Saturday’s 11 a.m. title game. In the Ridgeview Regional, No. 7 GSW will play No. 9 Ridgeview on Tuesday, with the winner to play No. 1 Lexington in Wednesday’s semifinal. The title game is at 11 a.m. Saturday.