Next week is one of our favorite five-day stretches of the year.

Tuesday, the first round of the Madison County tournaments for baseball and softball will be played with both championships being decided Saturday. The girls tennis tournament starts Wednesday and concludes Friday, the same day as the county track-and-field championship.

This week should be extra special for all county sports fans after the cancellation of last spring’s sports season.

While COVID-19 is still a pandemic and the race between vaccinations and the fast-spreading variants is on, it is a welcome change to be more concerned about the weather forecasts when it comes to spring sports.

Masking up is still very much a thing, but being outdoors should make attending sporting events safer for all involved than the indoor sports of the winter. I just hope everyone continues the precautions when away from the tennis courts and baseball diamonds. It really is starting to feel like we are approaching the edge of the woods we so desperately want out of.

I believe there is much to look forward to this week, and there should be plenty of excitement.

Part of this is due to the uncertainty. After a year away, predicting who will be raising the five county titles at the end of the week is not easy to do, so I won’t try.

But, based on what I’ve seen on the fields, both the softball and baseball tournaments look to be very competitive.

For the Nick Muller Memorial Baseball Tournament, Anderson, Lapel and Frankton have shown early on they are strong on the mound, and Pendleton Heights may be figuring some things out after an up-and-down start. Madison-Grant and Elwood posted impressive season-opening wins this week and the reigning Class 2A state champion Alexandria Tigers broke into the win column as well. Anyone ruling out a Jeff Closser-coached team is just not thinking clearly.

The softball tournament is loaded with very attractive first-round matchups.

A powerful Frankton offense will face off with Elwood, a deceiving 0-2 start is masking the expected pitching talent the Panthers have paired with an already strong lineup. Alexandria is undefeated, boasts both offensive and defensive talent and travels to Lapel, where the 2019 sectional champions lay in wait. Perennial county favorite Pendleton Heights takes their home-run happy lineup to Madison-Grant, where the Argylls have shown some offensive potency early in the season as well.

The two girls tennis teams I’m really looking at this year — Alexandria and Frankton — could meet in the semifinal round if they can take care of first-round business. On the other side of the bracket, the Arabians return some key players from their young 2019 team and could be primed to return to Friday’s championship match.

I would expect plenty of excitement from athletes from all the track-and-field teams at Friday’s championship, held once again at Madison-Grant. There are kids from many teams already setting personal bests and school records just a couple weeks into the season.

I said at the top this is one of our favorite weeks of the year, and that is still true.

It’s also one of the hardest, but only because I can’t be everywhere and see everything.

Next week’s weather forecast looks to be cool but dry.

So mask up, grab a jacket and prepare to cheer loudly. These kids have been waiting two years to go after these trophies.

Contact Rob Hunt at

rob.hunt@heraldbulletin.com

or 765-640-4886.

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