In 2011, the south Charlotte area was home to many of the top baseball and softball teams in the state - some even among the best in the nation.
Two south Charlotte-area high school players were drafted in the Major League draft in June, and many more baseball and softball players will play in college.
The Ardrey Kell and Providence baseball teams were nationally ranked. The Knights were a top softball team all season, and Independence went from middle of the pack last year to the last Southwestern 4A softball team standing in the playoffs.
A lot of talent is going to graduate this year, however.
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Gone will be Ardrey Kell's Stephanie Wood, Southwestern 4A softball Player of the Year. Jessica Rappe from Butler signed with Virginia Tech after a great high school career.
Southwestern 4A baseball will lose both of its co-conference Player of the Year performers, as Ardrey Kell's Logan Ratledge and Butler's A.J. Larson will graduate.
Providence's Brett Austin, the 2010 conference Player of the Year and the 54th player selected in the Major League draft, is gone. Jake Fincher is another graduating Panther, who will be at N.C. State next year. Butler's Brandon McWhirter and the Knight's Chris McCue, who was drafted in the 35th round by the New York Yankees, also are graduating.
While a lot of talent is leaving, there will be plenty left.
Ardrey Kell is a great example: the Knights lose Ratledge, an N.C. State signee and co-Player of the Year, but junior Trent Thorton, among others, is ready to step up.
Knights softball will return conference Coach of the Year Bob Bove and four all-conference selections: Jordan Hostetler, Alexa Graver, Taylor Freeman and Jessey Hassl.
Butler will retool with sophomore Shannon Mas and junior Shelby Collins returning from all-conference seasons.
Charlotte Catholic had six selections to the ME-GA 7 all-conference team. Shea Shefte, Dani Moore and Tori Burke have graduated, but freshman Megan Webb and juniors Rebecca Brady and Melanie Runkel are coming back to make the Cougars the team to beat.
Freshman Brittany Guidera returns to Independence.
Porter Ridge returns pitcher Lexi Davis and will again challenge for a state title.
Metrolina Christian will return co-captains Bailey Bjornson and Mallory Broome to offset the loss of senior Cassi Carpenter.
Star pitcher Caitlin Kurtz and co-captain Erin Kayton will graduate from Marvin Ridge, but sophomore Ashley Christy and junior Erin Robertson are ready to fill the void.
Junior Elena Covert form Providence returns to a team losing two all-conference seniors.
South Meck struggled last year but the Sabres' future looks bright, as freshman Jordan Harmon and sophomore Shelby Hitchcock return.
Providence probably will be the early favorite to repeat as Southwestern 4A champion. Juniors Ty Buttrey, Mike Herbert, Jackson Campana and Xander Maddox were all big contributors, and all will be back.
East Meck has sophomore Logan Sherer is one of only two sophomores named all-conference.
Sophomore Nick Salisbury was one of two Independence players named to the all-league team.
Junior Eddie Hull's return will alleviate the loss of four Charlotte Catholic all-conference selections.
Tyler Chadwick will return for a Marvin Ridge team that advanced deep into the playoffs. Porter Ridge returns Sergio Patsey and Drew Moore.