Wet and wild.
That's been the high school baseball season so far — raining cats and dogs and upsets — and there could be more of the same in the Forcht Bank/KHSAA State Tournament that starts Thursday at Applebee's Park.
"It's been a funky spring," Trinity Coach Steve Tompkins said. "The weather wasn't on our side with all the rain ... Then the top seven ranked teams didn't make the (state) tournament.
"It hasn't been a normal season."
Why should the 69th state tournament be any different?
The forecast calls for a good chance of rain on Thursday, and a decent chance that a surprise team will celebrate a championship come Saturday night.
"It's as wide open as I've ever seen it," Tompkins said of the eight-team, single-elimination event.
"There are some pretty solid ball clubs," South Laurel Coach Wynn Harris said, "but no juggernaut like (Pleasure Ridge Park) last year."
Talent-stacked PRP was the overwhelming pick to win the 2008 title, and it did.
There's no obvious favorite this year, not after supposed powers Apollo, Covington Catholic, Eastern, Lexington Christian, Male, PRP and Tates Creek were all eliminated before the semi-states.
Trinity, which was No. 8 in the last coaches' poll, is the highest rated team left, followed by No. 9 Lexington Catholic, No. 10 Bullitt East, No. 20 Harrison County and No. 21 Marshall County
Trinity also has perhaps the best pitcher in junior Corey Littrell, who has committed to the University of Kentucky.
"He's a very confident kid and has a great presence on the mound," Tompkins said of Littrell, who is 8-2 with a 0.40 earned run average.
Lexington Catholic Coach Kevin Clary, whose team lost to Littrell last month, said the Trinity left-hander "is the real deal; he's as good as advertised."
But Tompkins says senior shortstop and lead-off man Chris Berry, a Western Kentucky signee, is the key to the Shamrocks' hopes.
"As Chris goes, so goes Trinity," Tompkins said.
If state tournament experience means anything, Harrison County, Lawrence County and Lexington Catholic might have an edge.
Harrison County returns to Applebee's with pretty much the same team that lost a 1-0, nine-inning heartbreaker to Lexington Catholic in the opening round last year.
The Thorobreds also have a veteran coach in Mac Whitaker, who's won 876 games and three state titles (1993, '97, '98) in three decades.
"This time of year you don't want to do anything to beat yourself," Whitaker said. "That means not walking people and not making errors.
"We haven't been doing those things the last couple weeks, and that's why we're here."
Harrison County's defense could be weakened by the absence of second baseman Matthew Dye. He has to sit out a game after being ejected from the semi-state finals for running into the Beechwood catcher. Whitaker and Dye's family appealed the ruling, but the KHSAA would not overrule the umpire's decision.
Lawrence County made a run to the state finals last June, and even though some key players graduated, it returns more than half of its starting lineup.
"We've got six kids back who've got a lot of experience," Coach Travis Feltner said. "That experience has paid off in us getting to this point."
Lawrence County's top returnees include sophomore pitcher Chandler Shepherd, who earlier this season set a state record by throwing 46 consecutive scoreless innings.
Lexington Catholic, a two-time state champ (1999, 2006) is in the tournament for the third time in four years. The Knights are led by senior catcher Michael Schornick and senior infielder/pitcher Devon Williams.
"We're confident, but not overconfident," said Clary, in his first season as Lexington Catholic's coach after serving as an assistant for four years.
South Laurel has outscored its opponents 75-17 in the playoffs and extended its winning streak to 10 in a row.
Bullitt East and Marshall County are in the state tournament for the first time.
Bullitt East's pitching depth makes it a threat. "We have several guys I don't mind giving the ball to," Coach Jeff Bowles said.
The Chargers' top two arms belong to Matt Bowles (9-2) and Brandon Alphin (8-4).
Marshall County's hopes of knocking off Lexington Catholic in the first round depend on senior lefty Cody Forsythe (13-0). "He's a real intelligent pitcher who hits his spots and doesn't make many mistakes," Coach Don Bock said.
The longest shot in the field is Owensboro, which also has the most state titles (six). The Red Devils finished the regular season 6-14, but everything has clicked for them in the playoffs.
"Winning builds confidence, and now we feel we can play with anybody," Coach Kip Walters said.