Middlesboro's softball team started its five-year state run with a group of middle schoolers.
This year the Lady Jackets head to the state fast-pitch softball tournament with a junior-dominated squad.
MHS, 35-2 and ranked seventh in the state, will take on Franklin County Friday at 11 a.m. (CDT) in the first round of the state tournament at Hopkinsville's Tie Breaker Park.
"Most of our team has started since they were in the seventh grade," Middlesboro coach J.W. Campbell said. This year's starters include seven juniors and one senior - Jessica Bradley, a three-year starter at pitcher.
"We had to get rid of some juniors and seniors when we were building this softball team, and that's where we went from," Campbell said about his team's youth movement five years ago. "We had five in high school and after that eight middle school students."
That group has won five straight 13th Region titles, the most recent coming last week against Bell County.
"They work hard in the offseason," Campbell said of his team, "and they work hard during the season. They're a great group of kids, and they're good teachers for the next group we have coming."
Middlesboro is one of eight teams in this year's state tournament who are making repeat appearances, and that experience could be seen as an advantage.
For more on this story, see the latest State Journal.