Last season: 19-3, ranked No. 5
Pitcher Lindsay Ettinger and shortstop Tracey Dahlen plus six other returnees give the Cougars, thinking about last year's upset loss to Westminster in the Class 4A region playoffs, all the necessary ingredients.
2. North County
Last season: 21-5, No. 2
The Knights have won two of the past three Class 4A state titles.
Last season: 20-2, No. 3
Pam Gauss and Kelly Kieffer take over as co-coaches for the defending Harford County champs, who return all of their starters.
Last season: 18-5, No. 1
When it's all added up, the Cavaliers lost 10 varsity players from last year's team.
5. Glen Burnie
Last season: 15-6, No. 4
The Anne Arundel County champ Gophers have a dangerous top of the batting order.
Last season: 19-4, unranked
The Panthers, led by Christina Smith and Megan Wesley, are now a permanent fixture in the IAAM A Conference.
7. North Carroll
Last season: 18-5, No. 7.
The Panthers return seven starters from last year's Class 3A state finalist team, none more important than the battery of sophomore pitcher Jessica Smith and junior catcher Allie Honkofsky.
8. Institute-N. Dame
Last season: 19-7, No. 6.
IND coach Greg Ehrman hopes the seven starters back, led by junior catcher Kim Proctor, can compensate for the transfer loss of pitcher Ashley Gray.
9. Severna Park
Last season: 16-8, No. 8.
The Falcons have enough returning talent to go with an influx of fresh talent to have their say in Anne Arundel County.
Last season: 16-7, unranked
The Eagles earned instant respect with the return of junior pitcher Ashley Gray.
Last season: 13-6, unranked
The surprise early favorite in Howard has six players back with at least three years of varsity experience.
12. River Hill
Last season: 19-3, No. 9
The Hawks have most of their infield back and junior pitcher Stephanie Haas ready to assume the role on the mound.
13. Eastern Tech
Last season: 18-6, No. 14
The defending Baltimore County champs and state semifinalists have five starters back including pitcher Tina Burchfield and added team speed and hitting punch from the JV.
14. C. Milton Wright
Last season: 17-5, No. 15
With starting points in pitcher Laura Canton and shortstop Nicole Hays, the Mustangs will smoothly incorporate the seven freshmen that made varsity.
Last season: 15-5, No. 10.
The Lions have five starters back.