Before the softball season reaches the halfway point on Sept. 11, the exclusive 300-win club for softball coaches could double in size.
Entering this season, five coaches had passed that milestone — Mike Govig of Papillion-La Vista (425), Terry Graver of Elkhorn and Elkhorn South (348), Keith Engelkamp of Omaha Skutt (339), Dan Hogan of Omaha Burke and Papillion-La Vista South (327), and Kevin Dunn of Valley and Omaha Westside (327).
During the first week of the season, Dave Prokesh became club member No. 6 when Grand Island Northwest won its season opener, a 4-1 decision over Central City. Prokesh coached at Columbus Lakeview before moving to Northwest.
Prokesh now has a career record of 300-111. His .730 winning percentage is the third best in the 300 club, trailing only Govig’s .838 and Graver’s .777.
The other four coaches who will soon join the club are Rob Sweetland at Wayne (297 wins through the first week), Kari Amen of Lincoln Northeast (296), Mark Watt of Lincoln Southwest (294) and Jon Small of Blair (293).
Dennis Dodge of Southern and Beatrice (270) should be in good shape to hit 300 wins sometime in 2014.
Let there be lights
Not only do all three Millard schools now have lights installed at their on-campus softball fields, the three Omaha Public Schools teams that play on campus are good to go with night games.
Omaha Burke, Omaha Northwest and Omaha Bryan have had lights installed. The other four OPS schools play their home games at fields off campus.
While temperatures have been much warmer than usual during the first week — a development even more interesting because the season started a week later than 2012 — coaches and players are just glad the games are being played.
Last year heavy rain forced the cancellation of the Lincoln Public Schools pool play and Omaha Marian and Blair tournaments, among others. Then the following week another round of tournament action was wiped out by storms.
It doesn’t look like that will be a problem Saturday, which means several intriguing games are worth watching. Pool D at the LPS tournament will feature Elkhorn, Lincoln Southwest, Ralston and Norfolk while Pool A will feature a battle between Beatrice and Grand Island Northwest.
The biggest tournament of the weekend is the Omaha Marian Invitational at Dill. On one side of the bracket in Friday’s first round will be Millard South, Omaha Burke, Millard West and Marian, while Papillion-La Vista, Bellevue West, Papillion-La Vista South and Millard North are on the opposite side.
That’s six of the top 10 teams in Class A in the same tournament, with a potential finals or third-place matchup between No. 1 Millard South and No. 2 Papillion-La Vista. The semifinals are scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday, with the finals at 1 p.m.