By Al Zipsie

Baseball-

Aquin is looking for a third straight Sectional title.

And the Bulldogs have most of the starters back from last years Super Sectional 1A loss. Aquin, is the favorite in the East and to make a run at a state title.

Aquin won their first seven outings to start the year. They swept Westminster Christian in a doubleheader. Zac Cummings, Cody Barkau. Jonah Diemer, Cooper Arndt, and Bryce Carlson will be an impact as pitchers and at the plate. Cole Luedeking returns after hitting.432. They also have catcher Jackson Holder.

Forreston won the East unbeaten in league play last season. They lost to Aquin 1-0 in the Sectional championship. The Cardinals will battle Aquin again led by all-conference pitchers a unanimous first-team pick Brandon Schneiderman and Michael Singley. Catcher Josh Groshans and infielders Josh Flick, Mitch Heinz along with Brandon Fyock.

Amboy. Return Justin Hart and Mitchell McLaughlin.

Milledgeville. Basketball standouts Cade Schave and Kyle Ottens also play a key role on the diamond along with Matthew Biller.

Dakota. Aden Cassidy returns as an all-conference pick.

Durand/Pecatonica. Outfielder Josh Noble returns for the Coop.

Ashton/Franklin Center. Adam Hart is back.

Orangeville. Only way but up after a winless season. Three-sport standout Austin Guy leads the way.

Polo. They hope to move up the standings after leaving the Coop with Forreston last year.

The West could be up on the air. Warren/Stockton won it last year advancing to the 2A Super Sectional. Eastland was 22-3 overall and returns key players to make a run.

Warren/Stockton. Returning are catcher Ahmad Raab, infielder Carter Lunar, and outfielder Noah McGivney.

Eastland. Hoping to win the title led by pitcher Ethan Christians, catcher Brett Swalve, infielder Tucker Welch and outfielder Caden Henze.

West Carroll. Twins Kody and Kaleb Plattenberger along with returning unanimous all-conference outfielder Cory Simpson.

East Dubuque. Talent with infielders Hunter Sherman and Ethan Orcutt.

Pearl City. Pitcher Zach Lien returns with Brock and Brandon Smargiassi and outfielder Dylan Ditsworth.

River Ridge/Scales Mound. Pitcher Mitch Knauer and infielder Nick Parr give hope.

Lena-Winslow. Junior Ian Kuehl all-state in football and wrestling state champion is the catcher.

Galena. Hoping to improve with Barrett Bell, Evan Kruse, and Cameron Gelinas.

 

Softball-

Dakota returns many key players from last years softball team that was eliminated in the Super Sectional.

The Lady Indians will be the team everyone in the NUIC will be gunning for. Dakota is the favorite in the NUIC East and a run at some state hardware.

Dakota started the season with five wins racking up 59 runs. It includes a 6-5 win over the NIC-10's Hononegah.

In the heart of the order for Dakota are big bats from returning senior all-staters Emma Kinney hitting third and Shane Boyer cleanup. The Indians have solid sophomore pitcher Grace Sutherland.

Orangeville a traditional power hopes to challenge in the East. Durand has an ace hurler in junior Katie Nevdal. They also have Katie Asche and Jaci Damon.

In the NUIC West Eastland lost the Stateline Sports Hub girls multi-sports athlete of the year in Makenzie Funk. However, they do return seven starters including a solid pitcher in Emma Norton.

East Dubuque has Skylar Culbertson and pitcher Abigal Huseman. Pearl City is led by the sister duo of senior Tyra and junior Tia Clark.