By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Two foes very familiar with each other will face off today at 4 p.m. in the 13th Region baseball tournament at Knox Central when North Laurel battles Corbin.
“Seems like we always draw each other in the region,” North Laurel coach Darren McWhorter said. In fact, this will be the fourth straight year that the Jaguars and Redhounds battle in the region tournament. Last year, they met in the first round, with North taking a 2-1 win. In 2011 and 2010, they hooked up in the semifinals, with North winning in 2011, 19-9, while Corbin took the 2010 meeting, 8-4.
And they met twice this season, with North winning both games, 2-1 and 2-0.
“We scored two runs off of them both times,” McWhorter said. “We faced (Kevin) Goins both times, and we know we will see him again. We just need to come out ready to play.”
North Laurel (21-11-1) comes into the tournament on a four game winning streak and winners of seven of its last eight games. Meanwhile, Corbin enters with a 19-17 record and are 4-5 over its last nine games.
“You know Goins is going to throw good, and we will have to match that,” McWhorter said. “It is what it is. We just need to get the job done and hope for the best.”
He said nerves could play a role in the outcome.
“You just never know with kids,” McWhorter said.
If North gets past Corbin, it will face the winner of the 7 p.m. game which pits Knox Central (18-18) against Middlesboro (21-11). North beat Middlesboro twice this season, 10-8 and 13-3, and downed Knox Central, 6-1.
South Laurel (24-6) opens tournament play at 1 p.m. today when it takes on Pineville (10-17), a team that the Cardinals didn’t face during the regular season.
“I haven’t seen them and don’t know much about them,” South Laurel coach Wynn Harris said. “But this is the region tournament. Any time you win the region it takes a little luck. We just need to make sure we play well and do things the right way. The basic four things: Pitching, defense, put the ball in play and run the bases well.”
All season long Harris talked to his team about putting a good week together. South comes into the game riding a six-game winning streak but aren’t going to rest on its laurels.
“We put a good week together in the district, now we have to do it in the region,” Harris said “We just need to play it one game at a time and we can’t overlook anybody. We can’t get too high on ourselves. It we get beyond playing it one game at a time you put yourself in a big hole mentally.”
With a win, the Cards will face the winner of the 10 a.m. game between Harlan County (26-9) and Clay County (18-17). The Cards lost at Clay County, 3-1, early in the season, and beat Harlan County, 9-1.
The semifinals are set for Tuesday at 5 and 8 p.m., with the finals Thursday at 7 p.m.