Livingston Central's goal is to return to the KHSAA Softball State Championships, but the Lady Cardinals know they'll have to rise to the top of a competitive Second Region to do so.
Livingston Central finished fifth in state last year after losing to Owensboro 4-2 in the consolation quarterfinals.
"Region 2 is maybe the toughest region in the state with five teams currently ranked in the top 16 in the latest coaches poll," Livingston Central coach Stan Head said. "Five teams - us, Madisonville-North Hopkins, Union County, Christian County and Henderson County, should battle for the Second Region title this year."
Livingston Central is currently ranked 16th in the latest Kentucky Softball Coaches Association Poll. But to accentuate Head's point, Madisonville-North Hopkins is ranked ninth, Christian County 11th, Union County 13th and Henderson County 15th, in the same poll.
The Lady Cardinals, who went 33-8 last year, are excited about their prospects of repeating as the Fifth District and Second Region champions. They beat Lyon County 12-0 to win the district tournament and Henderson County 3-1 to win the region crown.
"We expect another very good year," Head said. "We are a very good hitting team and our team defense is probably our greatest asset."
Livingston Central, with six returning starters, will be led by seniors, catcher Hailee Lampley and 3B Ashley Wright, and juniors, SS Hannah Leidecker, 1B Tiffany Padon and 2B Jennifer Head.
Senior pitcher Caitlin Merritt, who went 11-0 last year and hit .377, will toe the mound along with Padon.
Lyon County will feature senior 3B/SS Kacie Freeman and junior Rachael Williams. Freshman Sophie Bingham will both pitch and play shortstop.
A young Trigg County hopes to get in the mix after falling to Livingston Central in the first round of the Fifth District Tournament last year.
"We are a team coming off a nine-win season, the most in a decade," Trigg County coach William Fortner said. "This team is still young, but with the experience we have we feel we can be competitive."
The Lady Wildcats will look to senior IF Te Stewart, sophomore P/IF Alison Russell, sophomore OF Alex Agosto, freshman catcher Arianna Brown and freshman IF Addison Rogers.
Crittenden County returns everyone to a Lady Rockets team that lost to Lyon County in the Fifth District Tournament first round last year.
Caldwell County lost last year in the first round of the Seventh District Tournament to eventual winner Madisonville-North Hopkins.
The Lady Tigers will be led by senior OF Hannah Jones. She leads a team made up of four juniors, five sophomores and six freshmen.
Call James D. Horne, a Sun sports writer, at 270-575-8661 or follow on Twitter @psunsports.
Check out these recently discussed stories and voice your opinion...