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Stanford Olympia Eyes Spot in IESA History in 2005 Class AA Girls Softball

Two-time defending champion Stanford Olympia eyes a spot in Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA) history this weekend in the fifth annual Class AA Girls Softball State Final Tournament Friday-Saturday at Champion Fields in Normal.

Stanford Olympia (23-2) seeks to become only the second school in the 28 years of IESA girls softball to capture three straight titles. Perennial powerhouse Casey-Westfield wore the crowns in 1993-94-95 during the years of the single-class state series. Stanford Olympia could become only the second school to win three in a row. Overall, Casey-Westfield has won six IESA softball state tournaments. Stanford Olympia has won three of the last seven titles, winning in one-class 1998, and in Class AA in 2003 and 2004.

Competition gets under way Friday at 10:00 a.m. in the first of four quarterfinal games. Semifinals are set to begin Saturday at 10:00 a.m. The third place game is set for 2:00 p.m. Saturday and the title game is scheduled to begin at 4:00 p.m. Saturday. The Class A state final also is being played at Champion fields in Normal on different diamonds. The four quarterfinal games in the Class A tournament are scheduled for Friday, beginning at 10:30 a.m.

The Class AA quarterfinal schedule Friday shows: Bloomington Junior High (16-7) facing next door rival Stanford Olympia in the opener at 10:00 a.m. In game 2 at noon, Antioch (12-1) faces Minooka (14-4). Williamsville (27-1) battles upstart Mattoon (18-1) in the third quarterfinal game set for 2:00 p.m. In the nightcap at 4:00 p.m., Lincoln JHS (18-6) meets Momence JHS (22-5). The eight teams bring a combined won-loss record of 150-27 (a dazzling winning percentage of .847) into the state final.

IESA girls softball began in 1978 and was a one-class state series until 2001 before the split to Class A and Class AA competition bringing eight teams in each class to the state final. Classes in IESA two-class competition are determined by dividing the schools entered in the sport evenly. This year a total of 155 schools entered the softball series and 77 began Class AA competition at the regional level. Class A enrollment range was 1-166 for seventh and eighth graders. Class AA began at 167.

Stanford Olympia.s two losses this year were both on the road to teams that have qualified for this year.s Class AA State Final Tournament. On August 11, the Spartans dropped a 6-5 decision at Lincoln JHS. Then in the last regular season game of the year on Sept. 8, the Spartans lost 8-7 at Williamsville. On Sept. 7, Stanford Olympia beat defending Class A state champion Streator St. Stephen, 3-0.

Five of the eight teams in this year.s Class AA field are making their first appearances in the tournament. In fact, Mattoon entered its team in the state series for the first time ever. The first time qualifiers are Bloomington JHS, Antioch, Lincoln JHS and Momence JHS. Minooka and Williamsville are appearing for the second time. Stanford Olympia is playing in its fourth Class AA state final in the five years it has existed. In its only other Class AA appearance in 2001, Stanford Olympia finished third.

The Williamsville vs. Mattoon quarterfinal game could produce a team capable of being the stumbling block for Stanford Olympia. Williamsville.s only loss was 4-3 to Springfield St. Agnes when the winners scored in the bottom of the seventh inning. Williamsville not only beat Olympia in the regular season but also Bloomington JHS and Lincoln. St. Agnes is playing in the Class A State Tournament this weekend. Mattoon.s only loss was to Teutopolis in 10 innings in the last regular season game. In the sectional, Williamsville rolled past arch-rival Riverton, 12-2, in the semifinals and then stopped Edwardsville Lincoln 7-1 for the sectional title. Mattoon stopped Toledo Cumberland, 3-2, in its first sectional game and dumped once-beaten Newton Jasper County, 7-1, to win the sectional.

The winner of the Williamsville vs. Mattoon game could run into Lincoln JHS in the second semifinal game Saturday. Lincoln beat Green Valley Midwest Central, 10-0, in the sectional semifinals and then stopped Quincy, 2-1, for the sectional title and a berth in the last quarterfinal game Friday.

The combined seventh-eighth grade enrollment of the 2005 Class AA field is 3,579. Bloomington JHS is the largest at 863. Williamsville is the smallest at 212. The others are: Stanford Olympia 339, Antioch 640, Minooka 476, Mattoon 561, Lincoln JHS 262 and Momence JHS 226.

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