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Trio of Trophy Winners Last Year Return in 2006 Class A Girls Softball

Three of the four trophy-winning teams in last year's Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA) Class A Girls State Final Softball Tournament return for the 2006 event. Competition is schedule for Friday-Saturday at Champion Fields in Normal.

Returning are last year's runner-up Beecher (23-1), last year's third place finisher Metamora St. Mary's (20-3) and fourth place finisher Springfield St. Agnes (16-8). Those three teams head a field of eight qualifiers. Beecher is in the upper bracket, while Metamora St. Mary's and Springfield St. Agnes are in the lower bracket.

Competition gets under way Friday at 10:30 a.m. with the first of four quarterfinal round games. Semifinal games begin Saturday at 10:30 a.m. The third place game is set for 2:30 p.m. and the title game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. The Class AA state final tournament also is being played at Champion Fields in Normal on a different diamond. The first of four Class AA quarterfinal games Friday begins at 10:00 a.m.

Griggsville-Perry (13-1) faces Toledo Cumberland (19-5) in the first Class A quarterfinal at 10:30 a.m. In the second game it's Glasford Illini Bluffs (20-2) vs. Beecher (23-1) at 12:30 p.m. Pontiac St. Mary's (9-2) plays Springfield St. Agnes (16-8) in game No. 3 at 2:30 p.m. In the night cap at 4:30 p.m. Metamora St. Mary's (20-3) squares off against Pawnee (8-2).

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 classs 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 162 schools entered the softball series and 81 began Class AA competition at the regional level. Class A enrollment range was 1-173 for seventh and eighth graders. Class AA began at 174.

Beecher, the champion in 2003, is playing in the state tournament for the fifth time in the six-year history of the event. Beecher's only loss this year was to Peotone. Griggsville-Perry, the only other once-beaten team lost to New Berlin, 14-11.

The eight teams in this year's tournament haver a combined won-loss record of 128-24, a winning percentage of .842. Only two teams -- Toledo Cumberland at 5 and Springfield St. Agnes at 8 -- have more than three losses. Beecher is the leader in wins with 23 and is followed by Glasford Illini Bluffs and Metamora St. Mary's with 20 each.

The combined seventh-eighth grade enrollment of the 2006 Class A field is 830, an average of 104 per school. Smallest is Metamora St. Mary's at 43 and largest is Toledo Cumberland at 167. The others are: Pontiac St. Mary's 51, Griggsville-Perry 61, Springfield St. Agnes 92, Pawnee 105, Glasford Illini Bluffs 150 and Beecher 161.

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