* Last season: 24-2, ranked No. 1
* The Cougars return nine players, including pitcher and two-time All-Metro Player of the Year Lauren Gibson.
* Last season: 18-4, No. 3
* The Bruins could be headed for a third showdown with Chesapeake in the Class 4A East regional final.
3. Archbishop Spalding
* Last season: 17-1, No. 2
* The Cavaliers will rely on strong pitching in a bid to repeat as Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference champions.
* Last season: 22-1, No. 6
* The Indians will be led by pitcher Jordan Eades, who helped them to an undefeated regular season and 3A North crown.
* Last season: 14-6, No. 4
* The Wildcats will look to topple powers Chesapeake and Broadneck in Anne Arundel County.
* Last season: 18-4, No.7
* The Golden Bears return pitcher Stephanie Speierman, the county's Player of the Year last season.
* Last season: 17-6, No. 5
* The Raiders are looking to build on last season's trip to the 3A title game.
8. Institute of Notre Dame
* Last season: 10-14, No. 10
* The Indians will try to avenge last year's loss to Spalding in the IAAM A Conference championship game.
* Last season: 15-6, No. 8
* The Eagles should be strong again with the return of pitcher Heather Brown.
* Last season: 14-7, No. 9
* The Cougars are coming off their third consecutive winning season and return solid veterans.
11. Mount de Sales
* Last season: 12-8, No. 11
* The Sailors could battle Spalding and IND for IAAM A Conference supremacy.
12. John Carroll
* Last season: 11-8, No. 13
* The Patriots should remain competitive in the tough IAAM A Conference.
13. Eastern Tech
* Last season: 17-5, No. 15
* The defending 2A East champion fell just short in its bid for a state title.
* Last season: 12-6, No.12
* The defending Howard County champion will get a tough early test against Chesapeake-AA.
15. Western Tech
* Last season: 13-6, No. 14
* The Wolverines are shooting for a return trip to the state tournament.
OTHERS CONSIDERED: Century (16-8, not ranked), North Carroll (11-8, not ranked), Perry Hall (15-4, not ranked), Seton Keough (8-8, not ranked), Severna Park (12-8, not ranked)