Our area has long been Missouri's high school basketball hotbed. Advance, Bell City, Cape Central, Charleston, Hayti, Jackson, Lilbourn, Malden, Matthews, New Madrid County Central, Notre Dame, Portageville, Puxico, Richland, Scott County Central and even Zalma all put together state championship teams over the years.
Most seasons, the area produces a state contender in each class. While Southeast Missouri has never swept all four in one year, we've won three of the four numerous times.
It was a little slow this year, with Bell City being the only local boys team to bring home some hardware. But Southeast Missouri is making up for its shortcomings this winter with a stellar spring.
With Sikeston, Notre Dame and Oran, the area has a shot at bringing home three state titles in baseball.
Has Southeast Missouri turned in the high tops for cleats? Is this becoming Missouri's baseball hotbed?
Probably not just yet, but a trend is definitely developing here. Baseball schools like Notre Dame, Oran and St. Vincent always have the potential to go the distance.
Sikeston is becoming one of those schools. After taking second at state last year, the Bulldogs took a brutal road back to Columbia this year -- beating No. 6 ranked Kennett, No. 1 North County and No. 3 Pacific.
Now the only teams standing between Sikeston and its first state title are St. Mary's, Ozark and Platte County. Look for the Bulldogs to handle St. Mary's on Friday, and then edge awesome-at-everything Platte County in the championship.
This is Sikeston's year to get it done.
In 2A, Notre Dame will probably get hammered by John Burroughs today if Jason Dupont pitches as expected. They should come back to beat Cinderella Springfield Catholic in the third place game, assuming Kansas City's St. Pius X advances to the finals.
John Burroughs should beat out the X to win the 2A championship.
In 1A, Oran has an excellent shot at winning it all. The Eagles had an easy road to the Final Four, toppling Bernie and Advance. They proved their worth in the regular season though, beating Notre Dame.
If Trey Graviett and the Eagles get by Chris Gerleman and the Panthers today, look for Oran to win state. But beating an overpowering pitcher like Gerleman might be Oran's biggest challenge of the season.
The guy set a new state record for strikeouts in a season with 148 in just 74 innings.
That's striking out two out of every three batters every inning, all year.
If Oran can pull it off, Ryne Wood will gut out a victory over Sacred Heart or New Haven in the championship.
We have no local teams in 4A, but expect Francis Howell North to nip Liberty in the finals.