LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
4. Neha Rao, Baker/Jadhav capture region tennis titles
It was a good year for tennis in Laurel County. South Laurel’s Neha Rao captured her second straight girls’ region singles title, while the North Laurel doubles team of Brad Baker and Rajeev Jadhav took home the boys’ doubles titles.
Rao won her opening match in the state tournament over Johnson Central’s Mikayla Estepp, 6-0, 6-0, then beat Sarah Stearman of Manual, 7-5, 6-0. Those wins advanced her to the third round, where she fell to Christian Academy of Louisville’s Ellie Gerlach, the No. 2 seed in the tournament, 6-2, 6-3.
Baker and Jadhav, despite being a region champion, drew the tournament’s No. 5 seeded team, Joe Hodapp and Cameron Shulak of Manual, and lost in the first round, 6-1, 6-1.
5. North Laurel football makes first playoff trip since 2004
For football fans on the north side, 2012 turned out to be a pretty good year, as the North Laurel Jaguars returned to the state football playoffs for the first time in eight years, and the first time under coach Chris Larkey.
The Jaguars, led by Michael Nelson and Gabe Blair, finished the regular season with a 6-4 record, their first winning season since the finished 6-5 in 2004. They beat crosstown rival South Laurel, 35-10. Their 35-14 win over Lincoln County in the final game of the regular season advanced them to the playoffs, where they fell in the first round to Whitley County, 41-20, to finish with a 6-5 record.
6. South Laurel Cardinals, North Laurel Lady Jaguars win 13th Region baseball, softball titles
One was expected. The other wasn’t.
The North Laurel Lady Jaguars, under first year coach Becky Osborne, won their sixth straight region title and yet another trip to the girls’ fast pitch softball tournament. North beat South Laurel in the 13th Region finals, 4-1, to advance to Owensboro, where it won its first game over Ashland Blazer, 3-1. They then fell to Ryle, 1-0, to drop into the consolation bracket, where the Lady Jaguars beat Scott County, 6-3, and Green County, 6-1, before being eliminated by eventual state runner-up Lone Oak, 9-8.
On the other side of town, the South Laurel baseball team wasn’t really in discussion for the region title at the start of the year. Most people were expecting North Laurel, Middlesboro, Clay County or Harlan County to advance to the state tournament.
The Cardinals faced Harlan County in their regular season finale and beat them, 3-1. Prior to that win, South had dropped four of its last five games. But that win over the Black Bears ignited a post season run that saw South win the 50th District title over Corbin, 3-2, then beat Harlan County, Clay County and Middlesboro in the 13th Region tournament to advance to the state tournament, where the Cardinals fell to Ashland Blazer, 7-0.