Coaches at the Class 2A Wesclin Regional probably didn't need much time to compile scouting reports on each other since most of them have already played and have a strong sense of familiarity.
Defending regional champ Carlyle (22-9), which lost in the super-sectional last season, is the top seed at a rivalry-based regional that includes No. 2 Greenville (24-10), No. 3 Wesclin (20-13), No. 4 Central and No. 5 Mater Dei.
"Any time you see common opponents it makes it a little more difficult," Carlyle coach Dusty Barr said. "We know each other, the kids know each other, so it makes it a little tougher in the regional round. There's a lot of rivalries involved, but we like where we are."
The rivalries are ignited instantly with Mater Dei (11-15) traveling to Central (10-19) at 4:30 p.m. Monday. That game is a rematch of Mater Dei's 3-1 win over Central last Monday that saw Knights pitcher Kyle Eversgerd take a no-hitter into the seventh inning.
Barr said there will be no easy games in this regional.
"If you play your 'B' game one day, you're done," he said. "You've got to bring your 'A' game."
While the Indians would like to get one game further than they did last season, which would put them in the state tournament, Barr is looking no further than the first inning of the first playoff game.
"Once you get that taste in your mouth you want to taste it again," Barr said of the long playoff run last spring. "It tastes pretty good. It's something they want to get back to, but as much as you want to get back to that super-sectional you've got to win the first round of the regional first."
Carlyle split two games each with Greenville and Wesclin and beat Mater Dei and Central.
The potent Indians' lineup has seven players with 12 or more RBIs led by sophomore second baseman Adam Alexander (.386, four doubles, two triples, 14 RBIs), Tommy Cummins (.327, 10 doubles, two homers, 21 RBIs) and Grant Carman (.324, 13 RBIs).
Anderson University recruit John Becker (.321) has seven doubles and a team-leading five homers along with 25 RBIs.
Quincy University recruit Matt Hilmes has battled inconsistency at times, according to Barr, but still is hitting .287 with four doubles, three homers and 27 RBIs.
Becker and Hilmes are both four-year starters.
"We've got two kids that can get on a hot streak and carry the team by themselves," Barr said.
Few small-school teams have four pitchers with at least five wins and ERA's below 2.32 like Carlyle does. The list includes McKendree recruit and staff ace Logan Zachry (6-1, 2.13 ERA), Hilmes (6-2, 2.31 ERA), John Becker (5-3, 1.95 ERA) and Ethan Huge (5-2, 1.83 ERA).
Carlyle's 4-2 win over Wesclin on April 29 ended an 11-game losing streak against the Warriors.
Wesclin has a tough first-round draw in the Greenville Comets, a team led by junior pitcher-shortstop Tyler Hutchinson. Hutchinson is also the record-breaking quarterback on the football team and son of Greenville coach Todd Hutchinson.
Todd Hutchinson picked up his 500th career victory on Saturday at the Comets' Ish Smith Classic tourney.
Wesclin has a top-notch recruit of its own in senior Michael Klein, headed to Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Klein is hitting .453 with 10 doubles, one homer and 23 RBIs.
The Warriors also get production from Brady Kunz (.359, five doubles, one homer, 17 RBIs), Brendan Bernhardt (.351, four doubles, 17 RBIs), Jared Timmermann (.338, four doubles, 14 RBIs) and Kyle Eversgerd (.317, five doubles, 21 RBIs).
Eversgerd (3-4, 1.49 ERA) heads a balanced mound staff that includes Ryan Meddows (3-4, 2.63 ERA), Dylan Weh (3-2, 2.53 ERA) and Kenny Hagarty (4-1, 2.87 ERA).
Mater Dei's top hitters are Chandler Haar (.413, three triples, 10 RBIs), Blake Haag (.373, eight doubles, three triples, one homer, 20 RBIs), Zack Haake (.368, five doubles, 13 RBIs) and Lucas Deimeke (,333, three doubles, three homers, 16 RBIs).
Mater Dei's top pitcher is Kyle Eversgerd (4-3, 2.16 ERA, 61 strikeouts in 45 1/3 innings).
Kellen Lake (.418, seven doubles, two homers, 16 RBIs) helps drive Central's offense along with Brent Timmons (.301, 13 doubles, 20 RBIs). Mitchell Rule (3-3, 2.79 ERA) has been the most consistent pitcher.