On the mound: Sophomores Mary Beth Pennington and Allie Hafley return and give Boyle two young arms capable of no-hitters.
"Mary Beth has gotten stronger, and she's getting older and more mature," Oates said. "I feel the same way about Allie. They're both really stepping up and assuming the role of leaders when they're on the mound."
Outlook: Oates said she hopes her second year will be an easier transition, with each side knowing more what to expect from the other.
"Everybody is on the same page," Oates said. "They know how (assistant coach) Roger (Webb) and coach (Lynnwood) Parsons and I work together to structure things and what we expect. I think we have good senior leaderhsip, good team unity and a common cause, and that will lead to success."
29 - at Garrard County, 5:30; 30 - MERCER COUNTY, 5.
1 - at Marion County, 5:30; 2-3 - at Meade County Tournament, TBA; 6 - at Scott County, 5:30; 7 - at Tates Creek, 5; 13 - CASEY COUNTY, 5:30; 15 - at Danville, 5; 16-17 - at South Laurel Tournament, TBA; 20 - SOUTH LAUREL, 5; 22 - at Pulaski County, 5:30; 23 - LINCOLN COUNTY, 5:30; 27 - GARRARD COUNTY, 5:30; 29 - DANVILLE, 5.
1 - at Model, 10 a.m.; 3 - MARION COUNTY, 5:30; 6 - at Casey County, 5:30; 11 - at Bryan Station, 5:30; 14-15 - BOYLE COUNTY INVITATIONAL, TBA; 18 - at Lincoln County, 5:30; 20 - PULASKI COUNTY, 5:30.
Coach: Matt Grimes
2003 record: 9-15
Top returnees: Taylor Bottoms, So. RHP; Amanda Carey, So. Util.; Amanda Cocanougher, Sr. 3B; Meredith Lear, Jr. 2B; Stephanie Stewart, Jr. CF.
On deck: Grimes said his lineup is getting more balanced, and that he hopes the Bulldogs will be more versatile this year. Carey led the team last year with a .453 batting average, seven doubles and 23 RBI.
"Offensively, we're going to be aggressive," Grimes said. "I anticipate us being a stronger team as far as top to bottom in the lineup."
On the mound: Bottoms is also the team's first starter, having also handled some pitching last year. However, she's far from the only option. Sophomore Amanda Carey, who threw mostly junior varsity last year, and eighth-grader Bev Harris are also working to become backups.
Junior Mandy Jenkins and eighth-grader Tiffany Shewmaker are long-range options, and Grimes said scheduling will make a deep rotation key to his team's success.
"We have three weekends with multiple games on each day," Grimes said. "We're going to need more than just one person on the pitcher's mound this year."
Outlook: The Bulldogs do not have an easy schedule. The Bulldogs play in several tournaments and will face Greenwood, which lost to eventual state champion Owensboro Catholic in the finals of the consolation bracket last year.
But Grimes still thinks this team, with a solid core of young talent, has the ability to reach the regional tournament.
"Our goal this year is to be well over .500 on the season, do well in the districts and go to regionals," Grimes said. "Once we play (Greenwood), we can pretty much say we won't see anyone else that good this year."
29 - at Model, 5:30.
1 - at Russell County, 5:30; 2 - PORTLAND CHRISTIAN, 3; 10 - at Bell County Tournament, TBA; 12 - BETHLEHEM, 5; 13 - at Frankfort, 5:30; 14 - at Mercer County, 5; 16 - HARRODSBURG, 5; 17 - BLUEGRASS CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT, TBA; 19 - at Berea, 5:30; 20 - at East Jessamine, 5:30; 22 - PARIS, 5:30; 23-24 - At Glasgow Tournament, TBA; 26 - at Washington County, 5:30; 27 - FRANKFORT, 5:15; 19 - MERCER COUNTY - 5; 30 - at Garrard County, 5:30.
3 - SAYRE, 5:30; 4 - at Bethlehem, 5:30; 6 - at Sayre, 5:30; 7 - WESTERN HILLS, 5:30; 10 - at Harrodsburg, 5; 11 - GARRARD COUNTY, 5:30; 12 - at Danville, 5; 17 - WASHINGTON COUNTY, 5; 20 - CASEY COUNTY, 5:30; 22 - LOUISVILLE COLLEGIATE (DH), 11 a.m.
Coach: Andy Stephens
2003 record: 19-12
Top returnees: Kayla Buis, Fr. RHP; Tori Clements, So. 2B; Amanda Delk, Jr. 3B; Leslie Grider, Jr. OF; Felicia Luttrell, Jr. C; Kelli Patten, Jr. 1B; Laura Wilson, Sr. OF; Lindsay Wilson, Jr. SS.
On deck: Stephens is excited about his team's offensive options, with several players capable of hitting for numbers and several capable of hitting for power. His power lineup - Luttrell, Patten and Laura Wilson - could go a long way to knocking in his contact players - Grider, Lindsay Wilson and Clements.