The 2012 high school softball season is among us. The seven local teams in Houston and Peach counties already have begun play. Heres a look at their prospects for the new campaign.
Head Coach: Angela Crawford, sixth year
2011 Record: 28-10, Region 1-AAAA champion, GHSA Class AAAA playoffs second round
Region: GHSA 2-AAAAA
Returning starters: Carson Carriker (Jr., shortstop); Carlie Farmer (Sr., outfielder); Hayley Tierce (Soph., third base); Kelly Warner (Jr., catcher); Taylor Brown (Soph., outfielder)
Key losses: Jessica Burroughs
Outlook: The Lady Bears should contend for another region title, which would be their seventh in a row. The Columbia County schools create some mystery, but the primary challenge for Region 2-AAAAA honors will come from Jones County. Schley County High School transfer Emily Hittinger (Soph.) gives Houston County quality in the circle despite Burroughs departure. The Lady Bears have five freshmen on their roster. One of them, Raygen Larsen, should get some innings in the circle, as well.
Head Coach: Blake Cannady, third year
2011 Record: 4-22, no playoffs
Region: GHSA 2-AAAAA
Returning starters: Brittani Babbitt (Sr., second base); Callie Bookout (Soph., shortstop); Taylor Poole (Sr., centerfielder); Kerrigan Hicks (Sr., leftfielder); McKay Wynn (Jr., rightfielder); Ciara White (Jr., third base); Rachel Taylor (Sr., pitcher)
Key Loss: Taylor Campbell
Outlook: The Lady Eagles lost by five or more runs nine times in 2011. Job one is making sure were in every ballgame, according to Cannady. With six starters returning, Northside can accomplish that goal. Freshmen Sarah Smith (third base, pitcher) and Taylor Sheffield (catcher, second base) add versatility and depth. Northside is carrying 19 varsity players and will have no JV team this season.
Head Coach: Jay Barker, first year
2011 Record: unknown, no playoffs
Region: GHSA 2-AAA
Returning starters: Victoria Desario (Soph., catcher); Amanda Peters (Soph., shortstop); Bridget Vonsteenburgh (Sr., pitcher); Natalie McEver (Soph., first base); Amber Gasparich (Sr., catcher); Abigail Davis (Soph., outfielder); Kelsey Parker (Soph., second base); Kaylee Holiday (Jr., outfield)
Key Loss: Lacy Shuler
Outlook: Things are looking up for the Peach County softball program. There were only 13 girls on the team last year, but Barker has 23 now and a JV team. The additional players have allowed Barker to move players to their more natural positions, so the Lady Trojans should be a better defensive club. The move to region 2-AAA should make Peach County more competitive in its quest for a state playoff berth.
Head Coach: Lorne Tucker, fifth year
2011 Record: 23-14-1, Class AAA playoffs second round
Region: GHSA 2-AAAA
Returning starters: Ivey Johnson (Sr., shortstop); Savannah Ransom (Sr., pitcher); Mary Jan Lollis (Sr., second base); Courtney Winston (Jr., catcher); Keeley Winston (Jr., outfielder); Samantha Gidney (Jr., outfielder); Kaley Sikes (Soph., pitcher); Sabrina Doucette (Soph., outfielder)
Key Loss: Leah Daughtry
Outlook: Perry has qualified for the state playoffs in each of Tuckers four previous season. A return trip is a reasonable expectation given the talent returning. In addition, the Lady Panthers have a trio of quality freshmen who will contribute depth. Expect Perry to be among the favorites when the Region 2-AAAA tournament opens Oct. 2. We will have a team that will be able to compete game in and game out, Tucker said.
Head Coach: Mitch Horton, third year
2011 Record: 26-18, Class AAA Elite Eight
Region: GHSA 2-AAAA
Returning starters: Kaylee Albritton (Jr., pitcher); Kelsey Fowler (Sr., second base); Kaelyn Meade (Sr., outfielder); Katlyn Winner (Jr., first base); Peyton Stallworth (Jr., outfielder); Sierra Stella (Jr., third base); Melissa Cox (Jr., shortstop)
Key Loss: Carmen Fields
Outlook: Lady Warhawks have adopted Make it Happen as the team motto. Veterans was an Elite Eight team last year, but benefitted from a favorable bracket. The team was 0-4 in games against its chief rivals for region supremacy, Perry and West Laurens. Bleckley County transfer Maggie Ball will help the teams depth, as will freshmen Avery Lamb and Mackenzie Anderson. Team has dealt with a ton of injuries over the summer, according to Horton. Georgia Southern standout Sarah Purvis is providing training tips for the team until she returns to school. She played for Horton at Northside.
Head Coach: Phillip Vance, first year
2011 Record: 6-22
Region: GHSA 2-AAAAA
Returning starters: Kilandra Dollar (Sr., catcher); Alexis Marchetti (Sr., first base); Ally Sams (Jr., pitcher); Jordan Kushinka (Jr., outfield); Jasmine Hamlin (Jr., outfield); Angel Swain (Soph., second base)
Key Loss: Alexis Boyd
Outlook: Vance has a rebuilding job in his first year. Dollar was one of two Demonettes to earn all-region selection but is the only one returning for another season. Freshmen Jada Jackson and Macy Ivester will challenge for playing time. The competition will do the team good. Our biggest obstacle will be the fact that we are mostly a young team, Vance said. Overcoming that lack of experience at this level will be a great challenge. Vance replaces Brenda Arnett who took a job in county administration.
Head Coach: Kyle Davis, first year
2011 Record: 31-6, region champions, Class AAA runners up
Region: GISA 2-AAA
Returning Letterman: Laura Johnson ( Jr., first base); Hannah Livingston (Soph., outfield); Sydney Barker (Jr., pitcher); Callie Hammerle (Jr., catcher); Chelsea Whaley (Soph., shortstop)
Key loss: Christine Campbell
Outlook: Loss of eight graduates will make earning a 13th consecutive region championship problematic, but the Lady Hornets have the talent to make another run. Still, thats not on Davis mind in the early going. We want to develop and improve at each position throughout the year, especially with the younger players, Davis said. We want to be playing our best when the playoffs come around. The team will start five sophomores and a freshman, Callie Ayer. Barker, a 2009 Little League hero, has been promoted to staff ace, but others will log innings, as well. Davis replaces Julie Brooker, who took the job at GMC prep.
Contact Chris Deighan at firstname.lastname@example.org.