Monticello at Louisa baseball, Thursday, 7 p.m.
The basics: It’s going to be a furious finish to the baseball season, especially since most teams had the previous two weeks postponed because of weather… every… single… day. The Mustangs have four games to play in seven days, all of them on the road. The Lions have five games over the next seven days, including a big road meeting with Western Albemarle today and then the Mustangs and Powhatan to follow. Monticello sits perched atop of the JD standings by one game over the Lions and Indians. The Mustangs lone JD loss came at the hands of Louisa. Both teams feature creative offenses, ones that don’t rely on any one or two players, but overall team depth. This should be a good one as each between these two over the last few years has.
Key matchup: Louisa’s defense against Monticello’s base running. Mustangs coach Corey Hunt is and always has believed in creative ways to score. His teams will double steal, they’ll squeeze bunt, they’ll play a lot of hit and run. Monticello is pretty relentless on the base paths. Teams that kick the ball in the dirt wind up paying dearly for it. In the first meeting, Louisa’s defense was on point and that combined with staff ace John Reynolds dealing was more than enough to pave the way to a win. The Lions will need a similar showing again defensively, regardless of whether Reynolds is throwing or not.
Who to watch: Monticello’s Bryce McGlothlin and Louisa’s Aaron Szlankiewicz. The big fellas in the lineup, if they provide that extra base pop, both respective offenses thrive. In a lot of ways, both orders resemble the other. Both teams do a nice job of simply getting on base any way they can. These are the two large RBI hitters, and when they connect they do so with some pop.
The line: Louisa by 1. This should be a push considering the two resumes, but the Lions get the edge thanks to their previous win over the Mustangs and the fact they’re at home (although that doesn’t seem to matter too much on the diamond).
Monticello at Albemarle girls lacrosse, Tuesday 5:30 p.m.
The last time these two met, the first half was a deadlock, but the Patriots clamped down in the second half and pulled away. This is an important measuring stick for the Mustangs, who have a chance to be a factor in the postseason with dynamic offensive threats like Summer Larese and Paige McGlothlin. For Albemarle, it’s about keeping things rolling especially with another key test against Western looming Friday.
Madison at William Monroe girls soccer, Thursday 7 p.m.
A couple of weeks ago when Monroe and Madison squared off, the Dragons got the better of the Mountaineers, winning 5-3 in large part thanks to a Kayla Burton hat trick. Both teams are capable of scoring, but Madison is coming off a couple of tough losses to Clarke and powerhouse George Mason. The Dragons have won three straight including last week’s 4-1 victory over Eastern View. Can Monroe’s dynamic set of scoring threats carry the load again?
Orange at Monticello softball, Wednesday 6:30 p.m.
This was a traditionally decisive matchup in the old Jefferson District before Orange was bumped into the Commonwealth for a short stint. With both teams making some noise, it’s got a little of that sizzle back. Monticello is fighting through some injuries, but they’re one of the few teams that have the kind of bats you’d need to matchup with Orange’s offense that often blows innings wide open. This one could be a shootout and it should be fun to watch.
Albemarle at Western Albemarle boys lacrosse, Friday 7 p.m.
This is an excellent chance for both these teams to take their temperature before the postseason starts. The Patriots got the better of the Warriors last time out but Albemarle has struggled to find the right mix and rhythm since that victory. Western, on the other hand, seems to have found itself of late, including a monster overtime win over a Covenant squad that blew past Albemarle a couple of weeks ago. This one could end up telling us a lot about both teams.
Team on the rise: Western Albemarle boys lacrosse
The Warriors have won four of their last five contests and responded from a loss to Woodgrove by holding off Covenant 11-10 in OT. Covenant is a team that’s coming off a VISAA Division 2 championship and has played very well this year, including a comfortable win over Albemrle. The Warriors started off with losses to Salem and Albemarle. Much has changed since then, and the aforementioned huge rematch with Albemarle is a big one. Western came on strong at the right time last year to make a big playoff run. Are they up to the same thing here? We should know by the end of the week.