Coach: Kelly Whitman (6th year)
2012: 28-4 (12-2 Three Rivers)
Postseason: Lost 2-0 to Milledgeville in 1A Eastland Sectional final
Outlook: The Clippers suffered a few key losses, but with seven starters returning from last year's Sweet 16 team, they are looking to pick up in 2013 right where they left off in 2012.
Coach: Jan Cupp (5th year)
2012: 9-15 (4-10 NUIC East)
Postseason: Lost 10-2 to Amboy in 1A Indian Creek Regional final
Outlook: The Raiders return five starters for last year's regional finalist squad, and will be looking to some youngsters to fill in a few key gaps. Coach Cupp expects plenty of run support for her pitchers, and hopes 2013 is a breakout season in Ashton.
Bureau Valley Storm
Coach: Brian Humphrey (8th year)
2012: 15-15 (7-7 Three Rivers)
Postseason: Lost 1-0 to Rock Falls in 2A Rock Falls Regional semifinal
Outlook: All but three players from last season return for the Storm, but those losses come in key spots: pitcher, catcher and shortstop. The strong returning core looks to overcome that with a potent offense and solid defense, and hopes to build on last year's .500 record overall and in conference play.
Coach: Chris Jones (2nd year)
2012: 12-24 (0-10 NIB-12 West)
Postseason: Lost 10-0 to Sterling in 3A Freeport Regional semifinals
Outlook: Even with 5 returning starters, the Duchesses will still be young in 2013. Coach Jones is pleased with the effort and work ethic the players have shown, especially through the disruption of their school year due to a teachers' strike.
Coach: Kristy Pierce (1st year)
2012: 18-15 (9-5 NUIC West)
Postseason: Lost 4-0 to Milledgeville in 1A Eastland Regional final
Outlook: In her first year coaching softball since 1986, Pierce – who led Eastland to back-to-back 1A state volleyball titles in 2008-09 – is happy with the leadership her seniors are showing. A good mix of talented upperclassmen and underclassmen should lead to more success on the diamond for the Cougars.
Coach: Jen Pepper (6th year)
2012: 8-20 (5-9 Three Rivers)
Postseason: Lost 2-0 to Newman in 1A Eastland Regional first round
Outlook: The Steamers surround a strong core of returning players with some talented newcomers, fresh off the sophomore team's conference championship in 2012. Coach Pepper likes the intensity and attitude her team has displayed throughout the first 2 weeks of practice, and believes talent and depth will help Fulton to surprise some people this season.
Coach: Brad Grenoble (1st year)
2012: 26-9 (14-0 NUIC East)
Postseason: Beat Tuscola 4-1 in 1A state tournament third-place game
Outlook: The Missiles return a strong core of veterans, and hope the talent and experience translates into another trip to East Peoria come the end of May. Besides one of the best pitchers in the state in 4-year varsity player Bush, four juniors return in their third seasons as varsity starters: Adolph, Grenoble, Leddy and Swalve.
Coach: Tammy Deter (18th year)
2012: 24-10 (13-1 Three Rivers)
Postseason: Lost 8-2 to Rock Falls in 2A Rock Falls Regional final
Outlook: The always-dangerous Fillies return seven of nine starters from a year ago, when they again played for a regional title. The talent and postseason experience up and down the roster likely means Morrison will again be a tough out come the playoffs.
Coach: Rick Turnroth (11th year)
2012: 9-15 (7-7 Three Rivers)
Postseason: Lost 10-0 to Milledgeville in 1A Eastland Regional semifinal
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Outlook: The Comets will be young, but both seniors, two of the three juniors and six sophomores have all played varsity their entire careers at Newman. Coach Turnroth expects an influx of talent to create competition at several positions, which can only help in his team's quest to compete in the conference race.
Coach: Lindsay Nauman (1st year)
2012: 10-23 (5-7 Big Northern West)
Postseason: Lost 5-1 to Polo-Forreston in 2A Oregon Regional semifinal
Outlook: Experience and talent will be the key factors for the Hawks this season. All-conference catcher Tourtillott and returning pitchers Crandall and Baker provide a veteran battery, and new coach Nauman is excited about the solid defense which will play behind them.
Coach: Mike Reagan (1st year)
2012: 29-8 (12-2 NUIC East)
Postseason: Lost 1-0 to Stillman Valley in 2A Oregon Regional final
Outlook: The Cardinals return eight starters, so new coach Reagan definitely has a full cupboard. If this co-op can overcome some inexperience in the pitching circle, a regional title is definitely in its sights.
Rock Falls Rockets
Coach: Kris Nunez (7th year)
2012: 30-8 (12-0 Big Northern West)
Postseason: Lost 4-3 to IVC in 2A West Carroll Sectional semifinal
Outlook: The Rockets return eight of nine starters from 2012, including BNC West player of the year Giddings and standout Ward in the circle. The addition of several standout athletes and solid starters and backups all over the diamond could lead to even more postseason hardware for Rock Falls.
Sterling Golden Warriors
Coach: Rick Henderson (10th year)
2012: 31-7 (8-2 NIB-12 West)
Postseason: Lost 2-1 to Marengo in 3A Belvidere North Sectional final
Outlook: Talent abounds for the Warriors, and it's not just upperclassmen who will be pushing for playing time. Success is nothing new for these players, and the experience factor is as great as it's ever been. Sterling's goal is to make a run to state, and this squad can't be counted out when it comes to a long postseason run.
West Carroll Thunder
Coach: Don Mathey (7th year)
2012: 18-17 (11-3 NUIC West)
Postseason: Lost 11-5 to Oregon in 2A Oregon Regional first round
Outlook: The loss of four key players may be softened a bit by the return of first-team all-conference pitcher Thulen, and there are plenty of options to help fill some big shoes. Coach Mathey is hoping the depth (31 players in the program) and offseason work (more players attended camps than in past 10 seasons combined) will pay off in a tough schedule.