The Essex Lady Trojans softball team won the conference and the conference tournament in 2016 behind their strong pitching and timely hitting. Another year and they have to replace their shortstop along with the catcher. Their starting pitcher for the past three years will start the year on the injured list, but should be back in the circle before the season is over. To win the conference they will have to be stout on defense. The Rappahannock Lady Raiders and Head Coach Ellen Gaines will reload again for the 2017 season. The Lady Raiders can be penciled in at or near the top of the conference each and every year. If their bats come alive during the season, look for them to make a deep run in the playoffs. The Northumberland Lady Indians Head Coach Michael Baker has had a year in train and teach the players his softball philosophy, so they can be expected to be a bit crisper is all aspects of the game. Their bid for the title will begin with tough out of conference opponents. The Colonial Beach Lady Drifters shocked a few teams last season. If they plan on repeating that performance, they’ll have to replace their pitcher. The team has always had good athletes to keep them in games, but they could not get the big win during the tournament. The Lancaster Lady Red Devils look to improve from year to year, so all areas will have to be improved upon. They will need a number one pitcher to keep the other team off balance, and a defense that goes after every ball like they know they can catch it. The Rappahannock Lady Panther have to greatly improve to give any of the team a scare in the conference tournament. Conference 43 looks to return to the 1A State Championship game this year.