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
It’s never too early to talk about what games will be the big ones for the Tri-County high school football fans to watch this upcoming season. I’ve tried to narrow my list down to 10 games, but honestly, it really wasn’t easy to do — but I did manage to do it.
Let’s just say things should be very entertaining, and interesting, for you the fan this season.
Corbin names Philpot head baseball coach
With just a little over two weeks passed since Rob Ledington announced his resignation as head coach of the Corbin Redhounds’ baseball team, Corbin School officials announced their choice his replacement.
So Far, So Good: North Laurel Coach Chris Larkey pleased with the way his team is looking
By Les Dixon
NORTH LAUREL — Chris Larkey’s North Laurel Jaguar football team is coming off one of its best seasons in program history with hopes of continuing its winning ways this fall.
The Next Step: Jerry Herron's Williamsburg Yellow Jackets have high hopes of winning a state title
By Chris Parsons
WILLIAMSBURG — The Williamsburg Yellow Jackets came one win away from bringing home the program’s first ever state championship last season, but a 42-0 loss to Mayfield meant a state title wasn’t in the cards.
Ready to Reload
Even though Knox Central head football coach Scottie Russell has seen the departure of two of the program’s best tailbacks due to graduation in the past two years, he isn’t concerned.
Shelton was a hero by any definition
The word hero is used a little too loosely for my taste these days.
To be honest, it’s been used way too much for a long time and I’m just as guilty as the next guy.
Out With A Bang
Corbin’s Chris and Hannah Hart ended their Redhound softball careers together, but the duo went out with a bang, each representing Corbin on the Kentucky All Star squad in a three-game series against the Tennessee All Stars.
Express finishes fourth in USSSA World Series
The Kentucky Express participated in the USSSA World Seriers against teams from Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia and New York.
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