Woodford County is the logical pick as the team to beat in the 11th Region baseball tournament that starts Monday at Madison Central.
The Yellowjackets are the defending state champs, and their pitching staff boasts senior right-handers Clinton Hollon and Logan Parrett, who each won two games (and combined for 38 strikeouts) in last year's state tournament.
But Woodford County Coach Jeff Parrett has seen (and played) enough baseball to know that the only thing predictable about the game is its unpredictability.
"Any pitcher can shut you down on any day," he said. "And you can hit five or six rockets right at somebody.
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"It's a one-game deal, and you never know what'll happen, especially in a region as strong as this one."
Parrett thinks the best team is Tates Creek, which is looking for its first region title since 1990.
"Oh man, they're so good," Parrett said. "Dom (Fucci) has them playing so well."
The Commodores, who beat Lafayette 11-3 in the 43rd District finals, are on a 16-game winning streak. They have an unbeaten ace in senior righty Caleb Johnson; formidable hitting, led by Devin Hairston and JaVon Shelby; and a solid defense.
But Fucci doesn't consider his team the favorite. "It's Woodford and their pitching" he said flatly.
Hollon, who has signed with the University of Kentucky, has a 96-mph fastball and a dozen pro scouts evaluating his every start. He is 8-2 with a 0.61 earned run average. He has 87 Ks and 15 walks in 57 innings.
Parrett, the coach's son who's also headed to UK (where his dad played), is 7-1 with a 1.09 ERA, with 80 Ks and 14 walks in 58 innings.
Woodford County plays Lafayette in the first round.
Parrett said "it's not set in stone" that Hollon will get the start against the Generals.
Lafayette Coach Chris Langston said he will go with "senior horse" Josh Dunn, who beat Paul Laurence Dunbar 1-0 in the district semifinals.
Langston told his seniors at Saturday morning's graduation they had drawn Woodford County, and "they were excited. They're all looking forward to the challenge."
Langston echoed Parrett's view that baseball is a fickle game.
"It'll be interesting to see how the ball bounces," he said. "There always seems to be a critical error, or a ball just landing fair, or something that shakes things up. You never know what'll happen."
Tates Creek will face Franklin County in the first round. The Flyers have a strong arm in senior Nick Cumpston, who threw a no-hitter against Western Hills in the 41st District semifinals.
Bryan Station, which upset Scott County in the 42nd District title game, drew Madison Southern as its first-round opponent.
Bryan Station, region runner-up last year, is led by senior outfielders Elijah Burdette and Michael Morton, and senior second baseman Jacob Moore.
Host Madison Central, led by senior catcher Jimmy Wright and senior first baseman Ben Fisher, will face Scott County in Monday's last game. They met in the first round last year, with Madison Central winning 3-1.
"When Scott County and Madison Central play, I don't care if it's football, basketball or baseball, it's a rivalry game," Coach Steve Roof said. "It brings out the best in both of us."
While Roof wouldn't say who he'll start on the mound, Scott County Coach Scott Willard said he's going with Matt Gregory (6-1, 2.75).
At Madison Central
Bryan Station vs. Madison Southern, 10 a.m.; Tates Creek vs. Franklin Co., 1 p.m.; Woodford Co. vs. Lafayette, 4; Madison Central vs. Scott Co., 7
On-line broadcast: www.11thregionsports.com