DOVER _ In the eyes of Morris Knolls coach Keith Heinemann, being the top seed in a tournament is an honor but moreso a cause for angst.
"I really don't care what the seed is," Heinemann said. "We can be first, fifth or seventh. What's important is going out and winning the games. Tournaments are single elimination. Anything can happen on any given day."
So, for a minute or two on Tuesday, April 18, Heinemann was flattered when the Golden Eagles (9-1) were voted the No. 1 seed for the 2017 Morris County Softball Tournament. His thoughts then went back to 2011 when Morris Knolls drew the top spot and was shut out 2-0 by No. 17 Jefferson in first-round action.
"I've aleady told my team about it and I'm going to tell them again," Heinemann said.
Morris Knolls, which has won nine games in a row since falling to Donovan Catholic in its opener, will have no worries if it continues to play at a high level. The Golden Eagles enter the tourney seeking their first MCT championship since 2014. They have five MCT crowns overall.
The second seed went to Jefferson (7-2). Third-seeded Pequannock (10-1) sent its winning streak to 10 on Tuesday with a 7-1 victory over Butler, the defending champion. Chatham (8-2), Hanover Park (6-1) and Mount Olive (6-2) are the fourth, fifth and sixth seeds. Parsippany (7), Kinnelon (8), Morris Catholic (9) and Montville (10) round out the first 10 in the 26-team tournament.
Butler, rebuilding after the graduation of Larissa Spellman and several others, is the 17th seed. Morris Knolls will play host to the winner of the Butler/Morris Hills game in the first round on Tuesday, April 25. That, too, concerns Heinemann.
"Morris Hills is our sister school and a rival," he said. "Butler knows what it takes to win."
Preliminary-round games must be played by Saturday, April 22. First-round action must be completed by Wednesday, April 26. The quarterfinals are slated for Saturday, April 29. Landing Park will be the site of the semifinals and final on Saturday, May 6 and Wednesday, May 10, respectively.
"We've been pitching well, playing good defense and scoring enough to win games," Heinemann said. "It's not always the best team that wins. It's whoever plays better that day. What happened in 2011 is tough to forget."
The Golden Eagles' most reliable hitters are Meaghan Thompson, Melissa Ackerman, Morgan DeLoreto and C.J. Shaw. Brooke Wiarda. Brooke Wiarda is Morris Knolls' seasoned pitcher.
PRELIMINARY AND FIRST ROUND MATCHUPS
Winner of Butler (17) at Morris Hills (16) at Morris Knolls (1)
Winner of Villa Walsh (18) at Madison (15) at Jefferson (2)
Winner of Parsippany Hills (19) at Whippany Park (14) at Pequannock (3)
Winner of Morristown-Beard (20) at Mendham (13) at Chatham (4)
Winner of Morris Tech (21) at Roxbury (12) at Hanover Park (5)
Winner of Morristown (22) at Randolph (11) at Mount Olive (6)
Winner of Mountain Lakes (26) at Parsippany (7) vs, winner of Dover (23) at Montville (10)
Winner of Boonton (25) at Kinnelon (8) at winner of West Morris (24) at Morris Catholic (9)