1. South Laurel Lady Cardinals (29-8)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Cardinals turned in one of their better seasons and captured their first 13th Region championship dating back to 2006 behind the play of seniors Amber Hyde, Megan Smith, Laura Williams, Chelsea Wemes and Cassandra Johnson. Of course, they also received a solid effort from the mound and at the plate by players such as Hagan Burns and Brittany Vanderventer, too. This team had a solid year and by season’s end, was hands down the best team.
2014 ranking: South Laurel still returns a lot of talent, but the Lady Cardinals could be young and inexperienced at some positions. Despite that, I’m giving the defending 13th Region champions a No. 2 ranking heading into next season.
2. North Laurel Lady Jaguars (23-13-1)
What’s the scoop: At the beginning of the season, I thought North Laurel would win the 13th Region championship for the seventh year in a row — well, I was wrong. The Lady Jaguars could never seem to get things clicking the way they did in 2012 and that’s surprising because they only lost one senior (Kristin Fields) from the 2012 squad. With that said, the Lady Jaguars were very talented, but just couldn’t get over the hump.
2014 ranking: Call me crazy, but I believe the Lady Jaguars will enter the season as the team to beat next season. Mikayla Vires will be the go-to pitcher in the circle for North Laurel while talented players such as Kailin Yantz and McKenzie Mills return to the mix. The Lady Jaguars will be young, though. North Laurel didn’t have a single junior on this year’s roster, and only five sophomores.
The best of the rest ...
3. Corbin Lady Redhounds (21-14)
What’s the scoop: Keep an eye on Corbin. The Lady Redhounds will return one of the best players in the region in Hannah Hart and will contend for the 13th Region championship. Heck, they might even win it, but to do so, they must improve defensively. If they do that, they’ll be better than my No. 3 pre-season ranking.
4. Clay County Lady Tigers (24-7)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Tigers only lose one senior from this past season’s team that won 24 games, second most in the 13th Region. Plus, pitcher Lesley Roberts returns to the mix from the injury and Clay County could very well be another team that could make a run at the region crown. But right now, I’m ranking them at the No. 4 spot for 2014.
5. Knox Central Lady Panthers (13-16)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Panthers turned in an impressive season, but fell short against Clay County in the 13th Region Tournament. Will they be my No. 5 ranked team coming into next season? No, losing pitcher Allison Swafford is going to be tough. The No. 5 ranking will go to Middlesboro, who was much-improved this past season.
1. North Laurel Jaguars (24-12-1)
What’s the scoop: No team was hotter than the Jaguars, who surprised many by winning the 13th Region championship this past season. North Laurel is a young and talented team and took many by surprise thanks to their clutch pitching and play of senior Marcus Carson.
2014 ranking: The Jaguars are going to be young and talented. Their pitching staff might be the best in the 13th Region, which is good enough for me to give them a No. 2 ranking.
2. Harlan County Black Bears (28-10)
What’s the scoop: The Black Bears had the talent to win their first-ever 13th Region championship, but just fell short in the end to North Laurel.
2014 ranking: Harlan County loses five seniors, but still figure to be in the mix at No. 3 in 2014.
The best of the rest ...
3. South Laurel Cardinals (25-7)
What’s the scoop: South Laurel will once again enter the season as the team to beat in the 13th Region and returns a lot of talent.
4. Middlesboro Yellow Jackets (22-12)
What’s the scoop: Middlesboro will enter as my No. 4 ranked team in 2014.
5. Corbin Redhounds (19-18)
What’s the scoop: Corbin fell 10-0 in regional play and I’m going with Knox Central at the No. 5 spot entering next season.
- Local Sports
Lady Redhounds roll past Whitley
The Corbin Lady Redhounds exploded for 11 runs in the first inning, and never looked back during their 13-0 rout of 50th District foe Whitley County.
The Whitley County Colonel tennis team picked up a win over Clay County, but the Lady Colonels dropped their match with the Lady Tigers this past week.
Fear 'Les' Diamond Rankings
The Lady Jaguars continue to show they’re going to be tough to beat.
After losing four straight games just two weeks ago, the Corbin Redhounds have bounced back to win seven of their last eight, including back-to-back district wins over the South Laurel Cardinals.
Roberts steps down as Corbin volleyball coach
Her time at the helm of the Corbin Lady Redhounds volleyball program may not have been a very long one, but the past three years have been successful for Liberty Roberts.
Williamsburg, Corbin bring home SEKC track titles
The Corbin High School boys track team brought home a first place finish at the Southeast Kentucky Conference (SEKC) meet at Knox Central, finishing with a team score of 152.
Lady Cards cruise past Southwestern, 11-1
The red-hot South Laurel Lady Cardinals keep rolling along, winning their ninth game in a row by upending visiting Southwestern Tuesday, 11-1, in six innings.
Mikayla Vires continues to mow down opponents as she recorded a no-hitter during North Laurel’s 10-0 rout of Somerset Tuesday.
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