-High school baseball can be tough to predict but here goes my humble outlook and predictions-
*note: KHSAA has the incorrect outcome for St. Mary @ Murray, the records are corrected here*
District 1 Tournament @ Fulton City - This is the only four team district in the region and probably the most wide open. All four are small schools which keeps the competition close between them.
(1) Carlisle County Comets (14-13) (5-1)
(4) Fulton City Bulldogs (5-10) (2-4)
@ Carlisle County 16 Fulton City 12
Carlisle County 11 @ Fulton City 10
The Comets come in as the defending District 1 champs and will be favored in this game. Fulton City dropped to the 4 seed after a loss in their last district game. The Bulldogs competed in both season contests and will have home field advantage. The Comets will look to cut down on runs allowed helping them to win this one.
(2) Hickman County Falcons (10-11) (3-3)
(3) Fulton County Pilots (5-11) (2-4)
@ Hickman County 5 Fulton County 4
Fulton County 6 @ Hickman County 5
These two split a couple of 1-run games in a doubleheader at Hickman County. Both have rosters comprising of young players with nearly half being freshmen and under. The Falcons may be a slight favorite but will have to face the Pilots on a neutral field this time around. With all the youngsters in this game it could go either way. The Pilots haven't advanced since 2009 and I expect the drought to continue.
In the championship: Carlisle County has more depth and experience which should give them enough advantage to repeat as champs in another close game. The Comets beat Hickman County 8-7 in last year's title game.
@ Hickman County 3 Carlisle County 2
@ Carlisle County 6 Hickman County 3
District 1 Champion - Carlisle County
District 1 Runner up - Hickman County
District 2 Tournament @ St. Mary (Paducah) - The tournament was set once McCracken County won their third game to receive the bye. In a rare situation, the tournament will be played at St. Mary again this year. Paducah Tilghman was host last season but had a conflict with their home field and opted for the St. Mary facility.
(1) McCracken County Mustangs (29-2) (4-0)
(2) Paducah Tilghman Tornado (13-15) (1-3)
(3) St. Mary Vikings (7-10) (1-3)
@ St. Mary 4 Paducah Tilghman 2
@ Paducah Tilghman 2 St. Mary 1
This game between in town rivals will be interesting and should be a good one. After winning the first matchup, St. Mary chose to hold their ace pitcher out of the last contest since there was nothing to gain in regards to the tournament. The Vikings will be hosting and should have the advantage on the mound with one of the region's best pitchers in Austin Shaw. The Tornado have a young squad but may have more upside when things are going good. They start a couple of talented freshmen and eighth graders but inconsistency has been a problem this season. St. Mary has struggled to produce runs this season but if Shaw is on I expect them to scratch enough to get the win. Paducah Tilghman hasn't won the district this millennium. St. Mary won a couple of titles in District 3 before being moved last season. The consolidation of McCracken County (Lone Oak, Heath, and Reidland) resulted in the realignment of Region 1 districts.
In the championship: McCracken County will be a heavy favorite but only dominated in one of their four district contests when they no-hit Paducah Tilghman in a run rule affair. Pitching will be second tier for the challenger, due to the three team format, so expect the Mustangs to get plenty of run support for their strong pitching staff. The Mustangs beat the Vikings 4-1 in last year's title game, and should win this one by a comfortable margin.
@ McCracken County 5 St. Mary 0
McCracken County 4 @ St. Mary 2
District 2 Champion - McCracken County
District 2 Runner up - St. Mary
District 3 Tournament @ Mayfield - Ballard Memorial earned the bye with a tie break over Graves County. Most expect to see them face off for the title in a rubber match.
(1) Ballard Memorial Bombers (26-6) (3-1)
(2) Graves County Eagles (19-14) (3-1)
(3) Mayfield Cardinals (7-17) (0-4)
@ Graves County 7 Mayfield 2
Graves County 1 @ Mayfield 0
The baseball version of "Battle of the Birds" favors the Eagles. Graves County pitchers Eamon Hannan or Tanner Smith are good enough to keep the cross town Cardinal hitters in check. In fact, Smith threw a no-hitter earlier this season in a 1-0 win. Mayfield will need a strong pitching performance and a defensive gem to have a chance for the upset. I'm thinking Graves County wins this by at least four runs. These two schools love to beat each other no matter the sport.
In the championship: This could be the game of the week and may hinge on how Graves County decides to use their pitchers. When these two met in a double header at Graves County, Hannan tossed a shutout while Smith took the loss to the Bombers in the second game. Ballard Memorial, losers of 3 of their last 4, looks to regain some of the magic that took them to the All A Classic finals and a brief stint in the top 25. They are still receiving votes in the latest poll and could still be considered the favorite on paper. The Bombers are loaded with upper classmen. The Eagles, however, played a tougher schedule and seem to be playing better in the last half of the season. If Hannan is available, I think he will be too much again for the Bomber hitters. If it's Smith, I think the Eagles find a way to pull the slight upset in a tight game. In last year's title game Graves County beat Ballard Memorial 10-0 in five innings. This one isn't expected to be anything near that.
@ Graves County 6 Ballard Memorial 0
Ballard Memorial 6 @ Graves County 2
District 3 Champion - Graves County
District 3 Runner up - Ballard Memorial
District 4 Tournament @ Marshall County - This was the only district that didn't need any tie breakers to determine the seeds but could end up quite different than the records show. Marshall is still the favorite but their one loss was at home to Calloway County.
(1) Marshall County Marshals (23-9) (3-1)
(2) Murray Tigers (12-10) (2-2)
(3) Calloway County Lakers (8-19) (1-3)
Murray 4 @ Calloway County 3
@ Murray 5 Calloway County 4
These two couldn't have played closer games in the season. In the first matchup, Murray out hit Calloway County 10 to 5 but four Tiger errors kept the game tight. Two nights later, the teams stayed tied at 1-1 through eight innings. The Lakers scored 3 in the top of the ninth, to take control of the game, only to see Murray come back with 4 of their own for the dramatic win. Calloway County played a much tougher schedule seeing teams like McCracken County, Christian County, Daviess County twice, Apollo twice, and Hopkinsville twice. If the Tigers and Lakers swapped schedules their records would probably be identically swapped. This rivalry has been nearly even going back a decade and Murray will be looking for their first three game sweep since 2003. Another one run game with extra innings is not out of the question but this time I feel Calloway County gets the breaks they need to pull it out. Some will consider it a mild upset if so.
In the championship: It's been over a month since they played back to back days winning at each other's home park. If Calloway County makes it to this game they may need to jump out early on the host to build confidence. That was the key in their season win. If they don't, expect the Marshals to slowly build a lead that will be too tough for the Lakers to overcome. Marshall County has eight seniors and seven juniors on the roster. They appear to be healthy and were playing solid as the season came to an end. They are receiving votes in the recent top 25 poll. I think Marshall County will get it done with their bats, possibly adding a long ball, to defend their title. The Marshals won last year's title 4-2 over Calloway County.
Marshall County 4 @ Calloway County 1
Calloway County 6 @ Marshall County 3
District 4 Champion - Marshall County
District 4 Runner up - Calloway County