The contenders (no boxing)
The postseason is here for the ball-and-glove sports, and it’s going to be an interesting two weeks as we see whether any area teams can capture regional titles in baseball or softball.
The short answer is yes, as there is a small handful of local teams in each sport capable of advancing past the regional level. But their number is roughly equal to the number of teams from other parts of the 12th Region than can win.
On the baseball diamonds, the three top local contenders are:
Boyle County. The Rebels weren’t expected to be this good, but they have improved more from start to finish this season than any other local team. Their current 16-game winning streak has lasted more than a month.
The big question: Does Boyle have enough pitching to survive a three-day tournament.
Danville. A 14-0 start that vaulted the Admirals into the ranks of the top 10 teams in the state. The second half has been a struggle for the Ads, who are 10-9 since that start, but this is still pretty much the same team that won the region last year.
The big question: Can Danville score enough runs, especially if its occasionally shaky defense gives up a few.
Mercer County. After paying for a tough schedule with some early losses, Mercer started hitting just before midseason and started winning about the same time. The Titans’ pitching depth has proven as strong as anyone’s, and they have also proved that they can produce runs from anywhere in the lineup.
The big question: Will Mercer finally be able to put years of near-misses and upset losses behind it and reach the top for the first time?
Now for the softball contenders:
Danville. It’s all about pitching at Danville, where Chelsea Wallace can keep the Lady Admirals in any game. The team is hitting better, too, which could be a good sign.
The big question: Wallace can’t strike out everybody — though she comes close sometimes — so will the defense do the job behind her?
Garrard County. The Lady Lions have two pitchers, neither as good as Wallace but both very, very good. They also have a solid lineup that can give those pitchers, Jessica Speake and Whitney Ball, some breathing room.
The big question: This is still a young team, so while they know they’re capable of winning, do they know how to win yet?