It’s that time of the year folks. I’m using my crystal ball one more time before I put it up for about a month or so to take a look at what could be next preseason’s top 10 softball teams in the 13th Region.
Clay County has dominated the 13th Region landscape the past two years. Before I get to the rankings, a tip of the cap goes to the Lady Tigers for making one impressive run in the state tournament this past weekend.
Clay County took the nation’s No. 3 ranked team, Louisville Male, to extra innings before bowing out in the Final Four, 2-1.
The Lady Tigers graduate a lot of talent off this year’s squad which leads to me tagging Whitley County as the team to beat in 2020.
So with that said, let’s take a closer look at The Fear ‘Les’ Very Early 2020 13th Region Softball Rankings
1. Whitley County
Quick, who can tell me the last time the Lady Colonel Softball program won the 13th Region title?
For you that don’t know, it was 1996. The Lady Colonels made a deep run at state that year, and could very well return to state play for the first time in 24 years.
Whitley County graduates four key players, but returns a solid nucleus of soon to be seniors along with some very talented younger standouts.
So yes, I am picking Whitley County as the team to beat. Things can change in the next few months, but I’m thinking 2020 could be the Lady Colonels’ year.
2. South Laurel
After turning in the program’s first losing season, look for the Lady Cardinals to turn things around and make a run for the 13th Region crown in 2020.
South Laurel will possess one of the best offensive attacks in the region with players such as Kenzie Jervis, Kelsey Dezarn, Katie Jervis, Chloe Taylor and Makayla Blair returning to the mix.
The key to the the Lady Cardinals’ success could come down to the pitching of Karly Gray. Gray improved tremendously throughout the 2019 season, and has the ability to lead South Laurel to big things next season.
3. North Laurel
The Lady Jaguars will be young and talented, and could very well win the region in 2020. But I’ve got to see how they’re going to adjust after being without the services of both Payten Gregory and Becca Riley.
The big question mark entering 2020 will be finding a replacement for Gregory.
She’s carried the load in the pitching circle for a long time, and now it’s time for someone to step up and fill the void.
4. Clay County
The Lady Tigers put together one heck of a run, and ended Laurel County’s reign in the region in 2018. They were even better this past season, and turned in a Final Four finish.
With that said, Clay County will now look to see if it can three-peat after graduating six seniors off of this season’s squad.
The only returning player in the infield will be catcher Tori North.
5. Lynn Camp
Do I have Lynn Camp ranked too high?
I don’t think so.
Granted, the Lady Wildcats lose some key players off this past season’s 51st District championship squad, but they return a lot of young talent, too.
The pitching duo of Madyson Roberts and Halle Mills is getting better and better while Lynn Camp’s offensive attack is going to be just as good as any in the region.
Honestly, I was floating around the idea of putting the Lady Redhounds as high as the No. 2 spot, but for now, I’m gonna keep them at No. 6.
Corbin is a team that’s going to give a lot of its opponents fits.
The Lady Redhounds struggled at times during the past season, but look for Dana White’s squad to be much improved in 2020.
The Lady Yellow Jackets are a hard team to figure out, but you can guarantee they’ll be a Top 10 team. They should be the team to beat in the 52nd District in 2020.
8. Knox Central
The Lady Panthers are another team that has talent, but can’t seem to get over the hump. They’ll return a lot of talent again next season, and will be the main threat to unseat Lynn Camp as the 51st District champions.
9. Harlan County
The Lady Black Bears lost a lot of talent, but just like many other teams in the 13th Region, they don’t rebuild, they reload.
10. Bell County
The Lady Bobcats were much-improved from 2018, and I expect them to be even better in 2020.
Middlesboro might be the team to beat in the 52nd District next season, but Harlan County and Bell County won’t be too far behind.