Lafayette and Lexington Catholic have to be considered two of the favorites to win this year’s 11th Region high school softball tournament, but many of the other region contenders have upped their game in 2023.
Great Crossing, over in the 41st District and ranked No. 6 in the final Kentucky Prep Softball Coaches’ Poll, earlier this month became the first team to defeat No. 1 and defending state champion Ballard since 2021, breaking a 61-game win streak. Madison Central, in the 44th District, was ranked No. 10 in the final poll.
For Lexington’s teams, a chance to prove themselves against the Warhawks and Indians must wait until they survive this week’s 42nd and 43rd district tournaments.
No. 7 Lafayette and No. 9 Lexington Catholic have had a peculiar distinction the last two years in that the team that won the 43rd District title between them went on to lose the 11th Region title to the other a week later.
Last year, Lexington Catholic lost in the 43rd finals to the Generals, but went on to claim the 11th Region championship and parlayed that into a state runner-up finish to Ballard in a title game thriller.
This year, LexCath and Lafayette split their regular-season series, each winning at home. It took 11 innings to decide their last matchup, a 5-4 win for the Generals.
“Every time we play, it’s such a good game. It’s a high-level game,” Lafayette Coach Dan Grantz said after that win in extra innings. “The kids are just competing. They know each other so well, it’s really hard.”
Lafayette is the top seed in the 43rd and will face the winner of Monday’s opening-round game between Lexington Christian and Paul Laurence Dunbar in Tuesday’s second semifinal at Lexington Christian. In the early semifinal Tuesday, LexCath faces a dangerous Tates Creek team that includes Kentucky commit Peyton Plotts and Minnesota commit Tinley Easton.
Both Lafayette and LexCath swept all their other district rivals in the regular season.
Over in the 42nd District tournament, to be played at Henry Clay, No. 18 Scott County has reigned supreme since 2006, the first year it was aligned with Bryan Station, Henry Clay and, later, Frederick Douglass.
But this season Bryan Station snapped a 34-game losing streak to the Cardinals and could pose a threat to that dominance. First, the Defenders will have to fend off a much-improved Henry Clay team that has recorded its first winning season since 2016.
All semifinal winners advance to next week’s 11th Region tournament, which will also include two representatives each from the 41st and 44th districts.
Players to watch
Here are some of the players in the 42nd and 43rd districts who will be in action this week with where they have committed to play college softball, according to the Kentucky Prep Softball Facebook page.
College commitments — Bryan Station: Morgan Williams (Bellarmine); Lafayette: Trinity Bridges (Transylvania), Claire Cronan (Georgetown), Leah Holland (Campbellsville), Olivia Planck (Hanover) and Aniyah White (Cumberlands); Tates Creek: Peyton Plotts (Kentucky) and Tinley Easton (Minnesota).
Also notable — Lexington Catholic: Abby Hammond (2022 Kentucky Gatorade Player of the Year as a freshman).
42nd District tournament
At Henry Clay
Scott County* (15-8) vs. Frederick Douglass* (10-11), 6 p.m.
Bryan Station* (18-9) vs. Henry Clay* (22-11), 6 p.m.
Championship game, 6 p.m.
43rd District tournament
At Lexington Christian
Lexington Christian (9-12) vs. Paul Laurence Dunbar* (1-20), 6 p.m.
Lexington Catholic (19-8) vs. Tates Creek* (13-15), 5:30 p.m.
Lafayette* (22-4) vs. Lexington Christian-Dunbar winner, 7:30 p.m.
Championship game, 6 p.m.
*Record through Friday’s games.