By: Jack Sheehan
With only three games remaining on their regular season schedule the Midwest Collegiate League playoffs are right around the corner for the Vikings.
Winners of six out of their last ten games and three in a row including last nights 11-1 trouncing of the DuPage County Hounds, Southland is hitting their stride just in the knick of time with the playoffs beginning next week.
Currently at 18-14 on the season, the Vikings find themselves in third place behind the NWI Oilmen and the Hounds with a pivotal game tonight against the Lexington Snipes.
Four out of the MCL's six teams are granted playoff births as the Chicago Zephyrs and the Rockford Foresters are the bottom two teams in the league that will be ending their seasons early.
If the Vikings can win tonight's game against the Snipes and capitalize this weekend against the Hounds and Zephyrs, Southland will head into the playoffs as the MCL's hottest club riding a six game winning streak and a force of momentum that will be hard to stop.
With a pitching staff headlined by south paw's Aaron Hauge (1.44 ERA), Chris Chigas (1.33 ERA), and Declan McCarron (1.92 ERA) Southland has the arms to go deep into the playoffs giving them a chance in every game they play.
Pitching is only a third of the recipe for success that Southland looks to concoct heading into the postseason.
In the field the Vikings have been stout behind their prolific pitching staff.
Headlined defensively up the middle with catcher Mark Munizzi, shortstop-second base combo Jerry Houston and Chris Sujka, and centerfielder Sean Beesley the Vikings make very little mistakes while dazzling the diamond with "top ten" plays like Jerry Houston's run saving play on a ball destined for centerfield that the future Oregon Duck scooped, turned, and threw to first base in one motion beating the running Paul DeJong by a step in last nights victory.
The third ingredient to Southlands recipe to succeed in the postseason is probably what will decide their fate in the playoffs-offense.
Offensively the Vikings have been very top heavy in the lineup. With hitters like Dan Potempa (.423 BA), Jeff Boehm (.365 BA), and Sean Beesley (.361 BA) anchoring the offense, the bottom half of the batting order shows a sharp drop-off plummeting near the low .200 mark.
Hopefully for Southland last night's 11-1 drubbing of the Hounds will catapult the offense into a more consistent output over the next two weeks.
The season is winding down and the playoffs are right on Southland's doorstep, this is when baseball becomes fun while everyone hangs on each pitch thrown to see who will be crowned the champion of the MCL.