Girls Top 5
1. North Laurel Lady Jaguars (1-0)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Jaguars won their season-opener by knocking off Somerset at home with ease, 12-1. Pitcher Megan Baldwin was in mid-season form by allowing only two hits while striking out nine batters.
Surprise, surprise: The Lady Jaguars are ranked fifth in the state and deservedly so. North Laurel has a chance to have a special season this year, but will be tested Thursday at home against Corbin.
2. South Laurel Lady Cardinals (1-0)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Cardinals are ranked in the state’s top 25 poll, too, and deservedly so. People tend to forget about James Burns’ squad, but South Laurel has the talent to make a deep run in the postseason.
Surprise, surprise: Amber Hyde’s three hit, four RBI effort against Middlesboro played a big part in the Lady Cardinals’ season-opening 18-0 win over Middlesboro. Pitcher Hagen Burns also turned in a solid effort on the mound, allowing only two hits while striking out five batters.
The best of the rest ...
3. Corbin Lady Redhounds (1-0)
What’s the scoop: Keep an eye on Chris Hart’s team. They’re gonna contend as well. They have one of the best pitchers in the region in Hannah Hart and a solid nucleus of players.
4. Harlan Lady Green Dragons (2-2)
What’s the scoop: This is where things get iffy right now. I feel pretty confident with the top three teams, but the final two, I’m just not 100 percent sure. The Lady Green Dragons already have two impressive wins over region teams (Barbourville and Williamsburg).
5. Harlan County Lady Black Bears (0-1)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Black Bears dropped a 10-7 decision to Jenkins, but I still believe in the long run Harlan County will be a tough team to beat.
Boys Top 5
1. South Laurel Cardinals (10-2)
What’s the scoop: The defending 13th Region champions are off to a fantastic start at 4-0. The Cardinals have beaten some pretty good teams so far in Southwestern and Powell County.
Surprise, surprise: Pitching, pitching, pitching — that’s one thing South Laurel has a lot of. The Cardinals have allowed only four runs so far this season.
2. Harlan County Black Bears (5-2)
What’s the scoop: The Black Bears are off to a great start and should be one of the top contenders in the region this season.
Surprise, surprise: Harlan County has shown it can hit the ball with power. The Black Bears have scored 44 runs during their first seven games this season.
The best of the rest ...
3. North Laurel Jaguars (2-2)
What’s the scoop: The Jaguars are a talented squad and will be tough to beat by season’s end. They basically have a new group of fielders in the infield, but once they settle in, North Laurel will be tough to beat.
4. Corbin Redhounds (1-0)
What’s the scoop: The Redhounds won their season-opener against Knox Central on the road. Corbin will be a team to keep an eye on this season for sure.
5. Middlesboro Yellow Jackets (2-1)
What’s the scoop: The Yellow Jackets started the season with two wins over Cumberland Gap, Tenn., but dropped a 10-8 decision to North Laurel this past week. They are another team that will get better as the season progresses.