TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Local Sports

April 26, 2013

Who is the favorite in the 13th?

TRI-COUNTY — If you’re a fastpitch softball fan, then next month’s 13th Region Tournament should be a dandy. The way things are going, there just isn’t a hands down favorite on who will win the championship.

The six-time defending 13th Region champion North Laurel Lady Jaguars entered the 2013 season, as the hands down favorite after returning almost all of its nucleus from last season’s squad that posted a 3-2 mark in state tournament play.

But struggles as of late, including a 6-4 loss to cross-town rival South Laurel, while being deadlocked in a scoreless tie going into the seventh inning against Corbin this past week have many wondering who really is the favorite.

North Laurel still has time to turn things around and assert itself as one of the state’s top teams. The Lady Jaguars have some of the best players around in Kailin Yantz, Emily Sears, Vanessa Smith, Blake Johnson and Megan Baldwin, just to name a few and the kicker to all of this will be how the pitching staff can shut down the opponents’ bats.

North Laurel has allowed 66 runs through 20 games this season, compared to only 41 during the same point in 2012. Yep, pitching is going to be key for Becky Osborne’s squad.

The Lady Jaguars’ main threat in many people’s eyes is the South Laurel Lady Cardinals, who haven’t won a 13th Region title since 2006.

The Lady Cardinals let a prime opportunity slip through their fingers a few years back in the 13th Region title game against North Laurel, but this season things look to be different for coach James Burns’ squad.

South Laurel has been swinging a hot bat throughout the season and that’s been one of the reasons why the Lady Cardinals are currently 14-4.

Burns’ squad has reached the double-digit plateau in runs scored seven times this season while averaging 7.4 runs a game, which isn’t too shabby.

The key will be if those that bats can continue to carry over into the hot days of May.

Players such as Brittany Vandeventer, Amber Hyde, Bailey Miller and Hagan Burns have really been swinging a hot bat for South Laurel.

 Chris Hart’s Corbin Lady Redhounds also have a shot to win their first-ever 13th Region Tournament championship, but to do so, their defensive play has got to get better.

Just take a look at the stats — through 20 games, pitcher Hannah Hart has surrendered 81 runs in 123 1/3 innings pitched, but only 20 of those have been earned. She’s put up some of the best numbers across the 13th Region with a 1.14 ERA while striking out 134 batters while giving up 23 free passes

That’s pretty good folks and so is the Lady Redhounds’ hitting.

Players such as Hart, Whitley Gatliff, Katie Bernardo and Lindsey Barton have swung the bat well this season.

 So who will win the 13th Region championship this season?

Well, since we’ve got an entire month of softball action left, I’m not going to say, but if you want to know which three teams have the best possible chance of making a trip to Owensboro, I’d go with North Laurel, South Laurel and Corbin.

So sit back and enjoy, it’s going to be an interesting month of high school softball being played.

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