OK, so the bloom is off the Twins' rose and there's a sour smell emanating from Target Field. It's spring in Minnesota and there is still baseball to be enjoyed.

Take Thursday, for example. Why not duck out of work for an afternoon trip to the south metro for a matchup of the top two teams in Class 3A, No. 2 Eden Prairie at No. 1 Lakeville North? The Eagles (1-1), runners-up to Mounds View in the Class 3A championship game last year, are still settling into a pitching rotation. They'll need to do that in a hurry against the Panthers and Nebraska recruit Angelo Altavilla, who is 4-for-5 with two home runs to start the season. Game time is 4:15 p.m.

Other games this week worth checking out:



• Rochester Century at Red Wing, 4:15 p.m.: Red Wing features senior pitcher/shortstop Ty Buck, considered the best pro prospect in Minnesota. At 6-4, 220 pounds, he's got raw power and above-average bat speed. He's committed to Iowa Western Junior College, but that could change if he's a high draft pick.



• Irondale at Maple Grove, 4:15 p.m.: Irondale is one of those teams that has the potential to be good but is just too unproven to be certain. This game will be a true measuring stick: Maple Grove's Sydney Smith is the state's best pitcher and she's coming off a 15-strikeout, no-hit effort over Coon Rapids.


• Elk River at Spring Lake Park, 4:15 p.m. Expect this Northwest Suburban matchup to be a classic pitchers' duel. Elk River pitcher Olivia Wolters threw a no-hitter in 10-0 victory over Coon Rapids on Friday. Spring Lake Park sophomore Halley Jones hasn't allowed an earned run in three starts and has already racked up 32 strikeouts.

• Chanhassen at Bloomington Jefferson, 4:30 p.m.: The questions for Bloomington Jefferson, which has won four consecutive Class 3A consolation titles, is who will replace workhorse pitcher Krista Flugstad. Junior Rachel Evavold stepped up by shutting out Chaska on two hits in the season opener.