HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
July 16, 2007

Baseball playoff predictions

By Aaron Schultz
It is that time of year again. Time for the North Star League and the Crow River Valley League to begin their playoffs.

To me, it doesn’t get much better than playoff time, and this year doesn’t look to disappoint.

While not all of the match-ups have been set as I write this column, they were finalized last night (Sunday).

Still, I do have a pretty good idea what most of the first round match-ups will be in both leagues, and with that I will give my thoughts, and predictions, of which teams will be heading to region tournaments out off both leagues.

Kicking off with the North Star League West Division, Buffalo locked up the top seed and, at least, a share of the division title with their 6-0 win over Monticello Friday night.

The second seed belongs to the Howard Lake Orphans, who still could have claimed a share of the division title with a win over Buffalo last night (Sunday).

But, win or lose, the Orphans will be the second seed in the league playoffs.

The fifth seed in the west is Kingston, that is known, but the third and fourth seeds are still up in the air as of Saturday.

Looking at the schedule for yesterday’s games, I would have to think that Rockford will end up with the third seed, and Monticello the fourth.

With that being the case, Kingston will play at Monticello Wednesday in the opening, play-in game in the league playoffs.

Monticello will top the Kings, and move on to play top-seeded Buffalo Friday in Buffalo.

The other game Friday has the Orphans hosting Rockford.

Look for both the Orphans and Buffalo to win those games Friday, and move on to the big game Sunday, July 22, with the winner moving on to the Region 11C tournament.

However, whichever teams falls Sunday, their season will be anything but over, as I am very certain that they will win their consolation game the following week, and also make it to regions.

So, there is the West Division, Buffalo and the Orphans are two shoe-ins to make it to regions, at least in my opinion.

The other two Class C teams in the North Star League that will advance to regions will be Maple Plain and Loretto, and I don’t even think it will be close.

Maple Plain and Loretto have dominated the East Division all season long, and should walk into the regions.

So, there you have the North Star League – Howard Lake, Buffalo, Loretto, and Maple Plain will all be competing in the Region 11C tournament in August.

Now, this brings us to the Crow River Valley League playoffs which begins this week.

In the North Division, the Winsted Wildcats entered Sunday’s games having locked up a bye, and first place with a win over Mayer.

Assuming a Wildcat win, and first-place, that leaves Watertown and Glencoe battling it out for second and third.

The two teams played Sunday with the winner taking second, and the loser finishing third.

My prediction is a Watertown win, so that leaves Glencoe playing a best two-out-of-three against New Germany this week.

The other first round match-up has fourth place Mayer playing fifth place St. Boni.
Both Mayer and Glencoe will win those opening round match ups, which will set up two pretty good series in the second round.

The Wildcats would then play Mayer in a best two-out-of-three, while Watertown and Glencoe would hook up again.

In those match-ups, I see the Wildcats sneaking past Mayer and punching their ticket to the Region 7C tournament, which is in Winsted this year.

In the other match-up, Glencoe will bounce back from two regular season losses to Watertown, and win in three very good games to make a return trip to regions.

In the South Division, Norwood will beat Cologne this week in the only first round match-up in that half.

Green Isle is in Class B, and won’t participate in the league playoffs, which leaves five teams in the South.

With a win over Cologne, Norwood would advance to the second round, and a face off with top seed Plato.

The Blue Jays will cruise past Norwood, and become the third team in the Region 7C tournament.

The final team will be between the winner of Hamburg and Young America series.

Both teams have first round byes, and will then match up in a best two-out-of-three series in the second round.

While Young America is the hottest team in the Crow over the last three-quarters of the season, I just have a gut feeling that Hamburg will find a way to pull the upset, and top the Cardinals.

Hamburg’s Mike Mueller, when on, just might be the best pitcher in the league, and will find a way to beat Young America twice.

So, there you have it, Winsted, Glencoe, Plato, and Hamburg will be the teams making up the Region 7C tournament.

How accurate am I going to be? Don’t know, but I do have a good feeling about these predictions. Of course, they are just that, predictions.

We will just have to let it all play out on the fields in the North Star League and the Crow River Valley League.

But, not matter what happens, I do know that it is going to be another entertaining July in both leagues.