Intrigue awaits at Jackson tourney

Friday, September 15, 2006

Notre Dame hopes to reach the final for the first time.

A potential quarterfinal meeting between Notre Dame and Lutheran South is just one of several intriguing matchups in the annual Jackson Invitational softball tournament, which begins Saturday at the Shawnee Park Sports Complex.

All games will be played at Shawnee with the finals set for 6:15 p.m. Saturday.

"This is the time of season you want to be playing well," Notre Dame coach Jeff Graviett said. "This is one of the best tournaments in the state."

Notre Dame enters the tournament with a 16-1 record, with its only loss coming against Incarnate Word in the finals of the Incarnate Word Tournament. The Bulldogs open with Notre Dame of St. Louis at 8 a.m. on Saturday.

Lutheran South will face Poplar Bluff in the opening round. The Mules defeated Notre Dame in the semifinals of the tournament last year and went on to win the tournament over Sullivan.

The potential meeting between Notre Dame and Lutheran South could be a Class 3 quarterfinal preview. The two teams met in the Class 3 quarterfinals in 2004, which Notre Dame won.

"We've never been in the championship game," Graviett said. "I'm big into baby steps, and that's the step we want to take."

Also looming in the top half of the bracket is Kelly, which fell to Notre Dame in the semifinals of the Incarnate Word Tournament. The Hawks are 15-2, with their other loss coming to the Notre Dame junior varsity. Kelly opens with Cor Jesu.

Perryville will face Nerinx Hall in the other opening-round game in the top half of the bracket.

"It's going to be a tough bracket," Kelly coach Rhonda Ratledge said. "Any of those teams can step up. You can't take any of those teams lightly."

In the lower half of the bracket, local matchups include Central against Fox and Jackson taking on Farmington. Last year's runner-up Sullivan, which Notre Dame beat in the Class 3 quarterfinals last season, also is in the lower half of the bracket.

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