STEVE HANLON: The 'State Line Clash' would be great for area softball

2011-04-15T22:00:00Z 2012-09-25T23:52:23Z STEVE HANLON: The 'State Line Clash' would be great for area softballBy Steve Hanlon Prep Beat nwitimes.com
April 15, 2011 10:00 pm  • 

Little, unnoticed things can often grow into something big and exciting. Right?

Just look at how a couple of raindrops turned into the Grand Canyon. Cindy and Bobby Brady are still trying to find their way home.

Prairie State College softball coach Marty Mears met Calumet coach Ryan Vondrak last year on a recruiting trip. The two softball supporters became fast friends.

In talking about ways to add exposure and excitement to the high school sport, they came up with a brilliant idea -- the Illinois-Indiana State Line Clash.

It was an idea that resulted in Vondrak's Warriors playing Bloom in a doubleheader at the junior college facility located in Chicago Heights. Calumet won both games.

Indiana leads the series 2-0. Yeah, I'm a Hoosier.

It was just two games. But can you see the water digging into the dirt? Can you see the hole getting bigger, canyon-like? Could this event one day be worthy of a postcard?

Next year, Mears would love to see four or five games, pitting Indiana's best against the top teams from Illinois' south side.  Wouldn't that be fun?

Imagine Lake Central playing Beecher? Or Andrean against Marian Catholic? What about Wheeler vs. Crete? Or Chesterton against Sandburg?

How about Crown Point against Homewood-Flossmoor? I think Ryan Pitcock would buy a ticket for this.

Like the Big Ten-ACC challenge, this would be a great day for fans from both states to come out, support their teams and do a little bragging rights' boasting.

"Ryan wanted to start playing some Illinois teams and we started talking about it," Mears said, "and this idea came up. We both think it would be a lot of fun. It would be great for the game and something out of the ordinary for the programs and the fans."

Several of the top teams in Northwest Indiana travel to Indianapolis to find good games against fresh, different opponents. Prairie State has a nice facility and it's not far away at all.

The Steel Yard has given baseball the "RailCats High School Challenge," which has been great for area baseball teams. Softball needs a similar event. The talent in this area is extreme and deserves the State Line Clash.

Vondrak and Mears would work to schedule competitive games. Good teams at different levels would be paired up so the players and fans would see great softball.

"Wouldn't that be fun?" Vondrak said. "When we played Bloom we had a blast."

"We're envisioning a great weekend of softball," Mears said.

It all depends on you, coaches and administrators. Please contact Mears at mmears@prairiestate.edu. He is already working to put together next year's "Clash."

He's thinking early to mid-May. But he will work with programs from both sides of the state line.

It's starting to rain. Get your cameras out.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at steve.hanlon@nwi.com.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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