St. Charles East athletic director Mike Sommerfeld plans to see as many innings of the Saints’ 4A softball and baseball state semifinals as he can on Friday.
A 3 p.m. softball game in East Peoria and a 5 p.m. baseball game in Joliet calls for a tough task, if not a lead foot.
“Burn up the interstate back to try to catch the end of the baseball game,” Sommerfeld said. “Kind of crazy, but it’s a great problem to have.”
Regardless of how either East team fares Friday, a similar conflict will be in place Saturday, as both sports play third-place and championship games in the same approximate late-afternoon time slots.
While Sommerfeld and other East officials expect plenty of orange and black-clad supporters in transit from both tournaments, the school is not reserving fan buses.
“We’ve been traveling well,” Sommerfeld said. “We tried that earlier in the year, and kids just wanted to drive.”
Joliet’s relative proximity to St. Charles in comparison to Peoria figures to put a few more fans at baseball, Sommerfeld said, but he doesn’t think the softball team will feel like it’s playing in a chapel.
Sommerfeld said both “tremendous” fan bases responded well to moderate road trips for Monday’s supersectional, with softball playing in Rosemont and baseball punching its ticket to state from Loves Park, outside Rockford.
Sommerfeld, completing his first year at East after serving as AD at Argo for seven years before that, enjoyed recent banter with several longtime Saints coaches about the last time the school faced this kind of predicament.
There’s a large banner saluting it near the main lobby entrance to the Saints’ gym. In the 1998-99 school year, then-St. Charles High captured state championships in seven sports – boys golf, girls cross country, girls swimming, drill team, boys swimming, girls soccer and baseball.
“It’s just been awesome,” Sommerfeld said. “The whole year has been awesome.
“We’re just real excited and hoping to bring home two state championships.”
That would cut down on traffic snares considerably.