Ten story lines to watch:
1. CLOSING IN ON A MILESTONE
Blythewood needs five wins in its eighth varsity season to reach 150. The Bengals stood at 145-57 through 2012 under coach Bucky Ware, who reached the 200-career-win level last season. Blythewood never has experienced a losing season and has won or shared seven consecutive region championships.
2. A DIFFERENT REALITY
Brookland-Cayce was one of the elite programs in the state, but last season the Bearcats finished with a losing record for the first time in more than 25 years and went 0-2 in the state playoffs. With the graduation of six-year star Chandler Terrapin, B-C is rebuilding.
3. LADY WILDCAT INVITATIONAL
Lexington’s annual Lady Wildcat Invitational tournament returns to the Pine Grove Complex this week after a year away because of facility renovations. The 16-team event runs Friday and Saturday and features Midlands entries A.C. Flora, Airport, Brookland-Cayce, Blythewood, Cardinal Newman, Dutch Fork, Gilbert, Spring Valley, White Knoll and host Lexington.
4. CLOSING IN ON 100
Chapin coach Jason Jolley opened the season needing five wins to claim the 100th win of his career. Chapin sports a 95-21 record in Jolley’s first four seasons. The Eagles are in the midst of a youth movement with 10 of the 12 players on the roster being sophomores or freshmen. Chapin went 2-0 in the first week of the regular season.
5. FADING GLORY
The days of Midlands softball power are long gone. There has not been a state championship team in the Midlands since Brookland-Cayce’s in 2002. The last Midlands champion in 4A was Lexington in 2001. There are quality programs in the Midlands, just not championship-level ones yet.
6. FAMILY BATTERY MATES
For the second year in a row, Dutch Fork features a sisters battery of junior pitcher Hayley Elkins and eighth-grade catcher Jenna Elkins. Hayley, who was named to the Region 4-4A player of the year and to the all-state team last season, has committed to Charleston Southern.
7. CN RULE IN JEOPARDY?
Cardinal Newman has been the unchallenged ruler in SCISA Region 1-3A softball for years and is heavily favored to continue it reign, but Hammond, with seven starters back and improved pitching depth, hopes to make the Cardinals work a bit harder to keep their title streak going.
8. BACK FROM INJURY
White Knoll pitcher Savannah Terrapin won 12 games as a sophomore in 2011, but missed most of 2012 with an injury. The Timberwolves’ senior staff ace is back and has helped WK to a 7-0 start, 2-0 in Region 5-4A action through March 9. During the span, Terrpain was 4-0 with a 0.63 ERA in 221/3 innings.
9. MOVING UP
Gilbert and coach Rueben Eargle are in for a challenge this season in their first year as a Class 3A team. Gilbert has been a successful program since Eargle launched it in 1991 and has a shot at achieving a significant milestone this season — winning its 350th game. Gilbert and Eargle entered 2013 with a 329-178 record and a .649 winning percentage.
10. GOOD HELP
Former Spring Valley coach Dwayne Jones is in his second season as an assistant coach at Blythewood. Jones guided the Vikings to 431 wins, eight Class 4A state championship series appearances and three state titles in 17 seasons.