Not much seems to have changed in the power rankings of Lexington high school softball teams since last season. Just the power structure.
Lafayette, which reached the state tournament last year, is the only city school listed in the coaches' top-25 poll, coming in at No. 5.
The Lady Generals, off to a 7-0 start, have a new leader this time.
Shane Weaver, who went 160-54-1 in five seasons at North Laurel, replaces Dana Taylor as coach. North Laurel won district and regional titles all five seasons under Weaver. The Jaguars placed fifth in the 2007 and 2010 state tournaments and were runners-up in 2008.
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Lexington Catholic, the only other team in the city with a winning record last season, also has a new coach in Jessica Broadhead.
Although Lafayette is Lexington's only ranked team in the poll, Henry Clay and Lexington Catholic each received votes.
Just up the road, Scott County is ranked No. 10 and Franklin County and Western Hills are receiving votes.
Coach: Brad White (fourth year)
Last year: 10-16 (lost to Henry Clay in first round of district tournament)
Top players: Casey Brock (sr., c/2b); Suzanne Hall (sr., rhp/of); Megan Hoovler (sr., if/p); Lindsay Henson (sr., of/c); Dallas Smith (sr., of); Marissa Dawson (sr., c/dp); Devon DeLeon (jr., if); Candice Johnson (so., if).
Outlook: The Defenders have high expectations and expect to be competitive in the district. With six seniors among its top players, Bryan Station has experience and is solid both at the plate and in the field. If there is a question, it is pitching depth. White thinks he has two younger pitchers who will help out before the year is over.
March 24—Estill Co. (Bluegrass Showcase at Lexington Catholic), 1:30; 26—at Paris, 5:30; 28—at Model, 6; 29—Lafayette, 7:30; 30—Lincoln Co., 5:30, and Johnson Central, 8:30
April 10—Scott Co., 7:30; 11—Model, 6; 13—Dunbar, 5:30, and Pendleton Co., 8:30; 16—at Lincoln Co., 6; 17—at Henry Clay, 7:30; 18—at Scott Co., 6; 23—Henry Clay, 7:30; 25—Nicholas Co., 7; 30—Harrison Co., 7:30
May 2—Tates Creek, 6; 4—Bourbon Co., 5:30, and Mercer Co., 8:30; 7—Western Hills, 7:30; 9—at Bourbon Co., 6; 10—Paris, 5:30; 14—at Dunbar, 7; 16—Mason Co., 7:30
Coach: Chris Hould (second year)
Last year: 15-18 (lost to Lafayette in regional tournament finals)
Top players: Sarah Mathis (sr., rhp); Shandra Williams (sr., 1b/3b/rhp); Riley Stokes (jr., cf); Brittany Sears (jr., lf); Emily Miller (8th, c); Beth Ann Hamilton (fr., ss/rhp); Sarah Parsons (8th, 2b/ss); Rachael Curnutte (jr., rf).
Outlook: MacKenzie Claus (jr., rf) suffered a torn ACL during basketball season and will miss the softball season, but Hould says his team will persevere. Keys, he says, will be continued hard work on offense while improving the day-to-day pitching and defense. Offensive threats include Williams (.426, 6 HR), Stokes (.396), Hamilton (.349) and Sears. Miller was all-district and all-region as a seventh-grader. Pitchers include Mathis (2.99, 143 innings, 145 strikeouts, perfect game), Hamilton (4.50, 37 innings, 48 strikeouts) and Williams (.682, 12 innings, eight strikeouts).
Blue Devils' schedule
March 29—East Jessamine, 7:30; 30—vs. Boyle Co., 7:30, and vs. Ballard, 9, at Ballard Invitational; 31—vs. TBA at Ballard Invitational
April 6—vs. TBA at Clarksville, Tenn., 5:30; 7—vs. Rossview (Tenn.) at Clarksville, Tenn., 8 a.m.; 9—Dunbar, 7:30; 12—Scott Co., 7:30; 16—at East Jessamine, 6; 17—Bryan Station, 7:30; 23—at Bryan Station, 7:30; 24—Clark Co., 6; 25—at Scott Co., 6; 27—vs. TBA at Western Hills Invitational; 28—vs. TBA at Western Hills Invitational; 30—at Grant Co., 6
May 1—at Dunbar, 7; 3—Lafayette, 7:30; 4—Western Hills, 7:30, and at Clark Co., 9; 9—Woodford Co., 7:30; 12—at Mercy, 2, vs. Roncalli, Ind.; 14—Madison Southern, 7:30; 15—Tates Creek, 6; 17—at Pulaski Co., 8:30; vs. North Laurel
Coach: Shane Weaver (first year)
Last year: 26-12 (lost to Pleasure Ridge Park in losers' bracket semifinals of state tournament)
Top players: Emily Kincaid (sr., p); Brittany Sims (sr., ss); Katelyn Mitchell (so., c); Jamie Vescio (jr., cf); Sarah Cooley (so., 1b); Abbie Bowling (jr., 2b); Kellie Payne (so., 3b); Sarah Wiggins (so., of); Aimee Mudd (8th grade, of); Madison Burke (7th grade, of); Kayla Franklin (jr., of).
Outlook: The strength of the Lady Generals will be the return of an experienced senior pitcher in Emily Kincaid (11-6, 2.39, and .357, 3 HR, 28 RBI, 21 runs). Experienced and talented Brittany Sims (.389, 46 runs, 15 RBI, 15 stolen bases) will anchor the infield defense, with Abbie Bowling. Katelyn Mitchell (.378, 18 runs, 17 RBI) will be behind the plate. Jamie Vescio (.267, 22 runs, 9 RBI, 6 stolen bases) has the speed to cover a lot of ground in center field and will be relied on to use that quickness at the plate, too. Weaver says it may take time to find the right combinations, but he has a nice balance of power, speed and crafty base-runners, and team chemistry is excellent.
March 29—at Bryan Station, 7:30
April 3—at Canterbury School (Fla.), 5; 4—at Pinellas Park (Fla.), 7; 5—at St. Petersburg (Fla.), 4; 6—at Shorecrest Prep (Fla.), 4; 11—Lexington Catholic, 6, and Dunbar, 8; 14—Chardon (Ohio), 11 a.m., and Lakota West (Ohio), 4; 17—at Tates Creek, 6; 20—Pleasure Ridge Park in General Invitational, 5; 21—Garrard Co., General Invitational, 10 a.m., and Lakota East (Ohio), 1:30; 23—at LCA, 7:30; 25—at Dunbar, 7; 26—Tates Creek, 7:30; 30—at Lexington Catholic, 7:30
May 1—at Woodford Co., 6; 3—at Henry Clay, 7:30; 4—vs. Daviess Co. at Owensboro Catholic Classic, 6:30, and vs. Hopkins Co. Central, 9:30; 5—vs. Male at Owensboro Catholic Classic, 10 a.m.; 8—Louisville Holy Cross, 8; 10—Mercy, 6; 14—Madison Central, 7:30; 15—Montgomery Co., 6; 18—at Eastern, 8; 19—vs. Central Hardin at Mercy Thrill In the Ville, 9 a.m., and vs. Greenwood, noon
Coach: Jessica Broadhead (first year)
Last year: 18-15 (lost to Paul Dunbar in first round of district tournament)
Top players: Jill Maronde (sr., ss); Courtney Champa (sr., 2b); Devin Walden (sr. c); jr. 3b Jessica Ringlein (jr., 3b); Sophie Robic (fr., cf); Jac Hinkle (fr., 1b/dp); Molly Dawson (jr., rhp); Ashley Baker (jr., rhp); Ellen Mitchell (jr., rhp); Hannah Martin (so., rf); Jennifer Carlino (jr., lf); Sarah Landry (jr., 1b/dp).
Outlook: The Lady Knights have a new coach to oversee a roster that includes three seniors and six juniors. Three of those juniors make up a veteran pitching staff. Broadhead says she's looking for her team to come together, be an offensive threat, focus on fundamentals and make the routine plays in the field. She thinks the team has "a ton" of talent and potential, and she wants her players to be mentally tough, aggressive and to persevere.
March 28—at Harrison Co., 5:30; 30—Nelson Co., 5:30
April 10—Boyle Co., 6; 11—at Lafayette, 6; 17—at Tates Creek, 8; 23—at Dunbar, 5:30; 25—Tates Creek, 6; 30—Lafayette, 7:30
May 3—at Woodford Co., 6; 4—Montgomery Co., 5:30, and Lawrence Co.; 8—at Christian Academy-Louisville, 5:30; 9—Franklin Co., 5:30; 10—Western Hills, 6; 14—at East Jessamine, 6; 17—at Nicholas Co., 5; 19—Allen Co.-Scottsville, TBA
Coach: Gina Covington (second year)
Last year: 2-21 (lost to Tates Creek in first round of district tournament)
Top players: Alex Byers (fr., rhp); Emily Orrender (8th, c); Hannah James (6th, if/rhp); Meredith Macy (so., ss).
Outlook: The Lady Eagles are young and may take some lumps as they try to lay the foundation for future years. Covington says the goal is to get better with every pitch of every game. LCA is hopeful that top pitcher Bri Shell, a sophomore right-hander who is out with mononucleosis, will be able to return after spring break. Mary Beth Steger, a freshman catcher/infielder, already is back in limited capacity after suffering a stress fracture in her lower back. However, eighth-grade shortstop/first baseman Abigail James probably will be out for the season after a soon-to-be-performed shoulder surgery.
March 30—Hart Co., 6; 31—Manual, 10 a.m., and Hart Co.
April 11—Tates Creek, 6; 12—West Jessamine, 5:30, and at Eminence, 5:30; 16—Dunbar, 5:30; 19—at Lincoln Co., 6; 23—Lafayette, 7:30; 25—at Sayre, 5:30; 26—at Christian Academy-Louisville, 5:30; 27—at West Jessamine, 5:30; 30—at Dunbar, 5:30
May 1—Nicholas Co., 5:30; 3—at Frankfort, 5:30; 4—Eminence, 5:30; 7—at Burgin, 6; 9—at Tates Creek, 7:30; 15—Frankfort, 5:30
PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR
Coach: Mike Wainscott (15th year)
Last year: 15-17 (lost to Madison Central in first round of regional tournament)
Top players: Kaitlyn Elias (jr., cf); Kaylie Zander (so., p); Shelby Shanks (fr., p); Rachel Ferguson (so., ss); Stephanie Harvey (fr., c); Emily Norton (jr., p).
Outlook: The Lady Bulldogs will be young, with no seniors and only three juniors. Wainscott says his team should be fairly solid on defense, and is planning on having a competitive offense when tournament time arrives. Elias batted .393 last season, Harvey .303 and Shanks .287. On the mound, Zander won 14 games with a 4.18 ERA as an eighth-grader. Shanks had a 3.39 ERA.
March 28—at Tates Creek, 7:30; 30—at Ballard Invitational, 6
April 9—at Henry Clay, 7:30; 11—at Lafayette, 8; 13—at Bryan Station, 5:30, and Pendleton Co., 7; 16—at LCA, 5:30; 17—at Harrison Co., 5:30; 23—Lexington Catholic, 5:30; 25—Lafayette, 7; 26—Madison Southern, 7; 30—LCA, 5:30, and Tates Creek, 8
May 1—Henry Clay, 7; 2—at West Jessamine, 5:30; 4—at Owensboro Catholic Classic, 8:30; 5—vs. Mercy at Owensboro Catholic Classic, 8:30 a.m., and vs. Glasgow, 11:30 a.m.; 9—at Nelson Co., 6; 11—Whitley Co. in Bulldog Classic, 8:30, and vs. Rowan Co. 12—Rowan Co.; 14—Bryan Station, 7; 15—Shelby Co., 6; 18—vs. Clark Clark Co., in Clark Co. Triangle, 5:30, and vs. Ashland Blazer, 7
Coach: Dawn Chenault (second year)
Last year: 0-15 (lost to Scott County in first round of district tournament)
Top players: Mary Booth (sr., rhp); Izzy Steiner (6th, rhp); Haydn White (8th, ss); Madie Bates (8th, 2b/1b); Lucy Cunningham (8th, cf); McKenzie Norris (7th, of/c); Ariel Marksbury (8th, 3b); Tabor Little (6th, of); Abby Clayton (jr., c).
Outlook: The Lady Spartans have a small but spirited group trying to build a program. Booth is the only senior on the team. Madison Plucknett, a freshman outfielder, should be able to return from a hand injury after spring break, giving Sayre 10 players. Chenault has added a valuable assistant this season in Gina Williams.
March 27—at Bardstown, 6; 28—Eminence, 6
April 12—at Augusta, 6; 17—at Nicholas Co., 5:30; 19—Paris, 5:30; 24—at Menifee Co., 5:30; 25—LCA, 5:30; 28—St. Patrick, 10 a.m.
May 7—at Portland Christian, 5:30; 9—at Shawnee, 5:30; 11—Ky. Country Day, 6; 15—at Burgin, 5:30; 16—at Williamstown, 6
Coach: John Groft (first year)
Last year: 12-23 (lost to Lafayette in second round of district tournament)
Top players: Finley Yuttayong (jr., rhp/ss); Kenzi Groft (so., rhp/1b); Mary Mullins (jr., ss/1b); Lisa Henning (jr., of); Carleigh Adams (sr., c); Bailey Skaggs (so., 3b/ss); Cressa Fryrear (jr., of); Mary Carter Downing (8th, 2b); Kendall Fields (7th, 3b/ss); Hannah Brown (fr., 1b).
Outlook: Groft takes over after two years as assistant coach. Adams is the lone senior to go with five juniors, four sophomores and four freshmen. A key will be the pitching of Yuttayong (7-10, 5.31, 55 strikeouts, 103 innings) and Kenzi Groft (5-9, 7.87, 48 strikeouts, 70 innings). Defense should be strong. Offensive leaders include Yuttayong (.364), Kenzi Groft (.400) and Henning (.297). Skaggs is an offensive threat and a strong-armed transfer from Dunbar. Youngsters Downing and Fields are expected to make an immediate impact.
March 27—at East Jessamine, 6; 28—Dunbar, 7:30; 30—Collins, 8; 31—vs. McCreary Central at South Laurel Classic, 9 a.m., and vs. North Laurel, 1:30, and vs. TBA, 5 or 6:30
April 2—at Nicholas Co., 6; 10—Clark Co., 7:30; 11—at LCA, 6; 12—Bethlehem, 7:30; 13—Commodore Classic with Boyd Co., Boyle Co., Magoffin Co., TBD; 14—Commodore Classic, TBD; 17—Lafayette, 6, and Lexington Catholic, 8; 18—Frankfort, 7:30; 21—vs. Clark Co. in Clark Co. Thrill On the Hill, noon, vs. Powell Co., 3, and vs. West Jessamine, 6; 24—Western Hills, 7:30; 25—at Lexington Catholic, 6; 26—at Lafayette, 6; 27—Western Hills Classic vs. Lawrence Co, 7, and vs. Western Hills, 8:30; 28—Western Hills Classic vs. Assumption, noon, and vs. TBD; 30—at Dunbar, 8
May 2—at Bryan Station, 6; 3—Lincoln Co., 7:30; 8—at Woodford Co., 6; 9—LCA, 7:30; 10—Frankfort, 7:30; 15—at Henry Clay, 6; 17—Williamstown, 7:30; 18—at Madison Southern vs. Bourbon Co., 7, and vs. Madison Southern, 8:30.