LANGLEY Winners of 16 of its last 17 games, Lawrence County is perhaps the hottest team entering the 15th Region baseball tournament.
The balanced Bulldogs are putting up 8.2 runs a contest and limiting opponents to 2.3 runs, on average. They shut out both 58th District foes — Betsy Layne and Floyd Central — by a combined score of 19-0.
But as stellar as Lawrence County has been, the obstacle in front of the Bulldogs now is defending region champion Paintsville.
As a result of Tuesday’s draw, Lawrence County (32-5) and the Tigers (21-15) will collide in the opening round of the tournament on Saturday at 11 a.m. Floyd Central is serving as the host.
Lawrence County is aiming for its first region title since 2015. The last three winners have been Johnson Central (2016), Central again (2017) and Paintsville (2018).
If Lawrence County advances past Paintsville, it will give the Bulldogs a program-record 33rd victory.
Jackson Feltner leads a formidable Bulldogs offense. He is batting better than .420 and has a school-most 12 home runs. C.J. Fairchild paces the club in average and runs scored.
Bryce Blevins, Lucas Maynard, Jacob Fletcher, Tyler Maynard and Fairchild each possesses a sub-2.70 earned run average.
Of all healthy Tigers, Matt Baldwin boasts the best batting average (.402). He has knocked four balls out of the park and has tallied a team-high 41 RBIs. He has compiled a 2.30 ERA in 27 1-3 innings pitched.
Johnson Central (30-5) has the most productive offense in the region, numbers-wise. The Golden Eagles have racked up 341 runs for an average of 9.7 a game.
Ryley Preece is Johnson Central’s statistical leader, having put together a well-rounded season. He is batting .478 with 55 runs, 37 RBIs, six home runs, five triples and 16 stolen bases. The junior is 6-1 with a 1.29 ERA in 49 innings pitched.
Johnson Central will take on Floyd Central (13-18) on Saturday at 8 p.m.
Pike County Central (16-17) will encounter Pikeville (16-17) on Saturday at 2 p.m. Sheldon Clark (18-12) and Belfry (19-9) are scheduled to get going at 5.
The 15th Region semifinals are slated for Monday at 4 and 7 p.m. The championship is set for Tuesday at 7 p.m.