One of my favorite aspects of my job is getting to cover state tournaments…especially when I get to go to Lexington. Three of the four regions in our coverage area already have a champion to represent them in the KHSAA Baseball State Tournament in Lexington next week. Due to the weather, the 15th Region will have a winner by Saturday.
Here’s a look at the teams representing the mountains:
From the 12th Region: The Southwestern Warriors
The Warriors lost in the 12th Region Championship to Mercer County in 5 innings last season. This year they defeated Somerset, 5 to 3 to advance to play next week at Whitaker Bank Ballpark. I didn’t have the opportunity to cover any of Southwestern’s baseball games this season, but the 12th Region is always a competitive region and a complete toss-up who will come out the champion. Southwestern will play the Simon Kenton Pioneers Monday at 6pm.
From the 13th Region: The South Laurel Cardinals
For the second time in three years the South Laurel Cardinals are representing the 13th Region in the state tournament. The Cardinals defeated 50th District rival Corbin, 4-1, in the region final. The Redhounds defeated South in the three regular season meetings, but South beat them when it counted...in the district final and the region championship. 13th Region Player of the Year, Daniel Neal, put on an impressive pitching performance in the region final pitching a complete game, and allowing one run. Of all the teams playing in the state tournament next week, South is the team I’ve seen the most. They are (in my opinion) a dangerous team both defensively and offensively. South Laurel will face the 10th Region Champion, the Scott Eagles, Monday at 8:30pm.
From the 14th Region: The Hazard Bulldogs
On Wednesday evening out in Buckhorn the Hazard Bulldogs defeated the Estill County Engineers in 5 innings, 11-1 to advance to the state tournament for the first time since 2004. However, Coach Meehan and Hazard have already been to Lexington once this season for a state tournament. The Bulldogs traveled up to Lexington Derby weekend to play in the All “A” State Tournament. That game has less than stellar memories for the Bulldogs as they were run-ruled by Beechwood (the eventual champion), 12-2. I remember Coach Meehan telling me he really didn’t want to talk to me after that performance his team had put on, but one thing he said was he hoped they were back at Whitaker Bank Ballpark in a month for the KHSAA State Tournament, and here they are. The team that just won the 14th Region Title is a completely different team (in my opinion) that was run-ruled in the first round of the All “A” state. Defensively they have improved, they’ve improved at the plate, and their confidence is instantly more noticeable. Hazard will play McCracken County in Lexington Monday June 2nd at 11am.
From the 15th Region: TBD