Archer's Alesha Mann and Kristin Hawkins break it down last year after winning the Class AAAAAA state championship at the South Commons Softball Complex in Columbus. (File Photo: Brendan Sullivan)
Head coach: Kris Daniels
2012 record/playoff finish: 33-7, Class AAAAAA state champions
Returning starters: C Jenna Graham, Sr.; 1B Katie Etheridge, Sr.; 2B Kristin Hawkins, Sr.; 3B Abby Lyall, Sr.; SS Alesha Mann, Sr.; OF Tahra Johnson, Jr.; OF Jacqui Switzer, Soph.; OF Brittany Maresette, Soph.
Other key players/newcomers: OF Aleah Marijanich, Jr.; 3B Sydney Willhite, Soph.
Outlook: Runs shouldn’t be an issue for the defending state champions, whose veteran infield and speedy outfield should boost the offensive totals. Mann (.360, three homers, 23 RBIs last season) solidifies the infield at shortstop. The major question mark is at pitcher, where the Tigers must replace Georgia Tech signee Nani Cabrales, who was 24-4 with a 1.23 ERA last year.
Head coach: Duke Raines
2012 record: 7-7
Returning starters: P Jasmine White, Sr.; 1B Meagan Naraine, Sr.; 3B Alleeyah Casper, Jr.; RF Lynn Hernandez, Jr.
Other key players/newcomers: Asia Brown, Fr.
Outlook: Berkmar continues to play a non-region schedule as it builds the program, a strategy that resulted in a solid .500 record last season. Four returning veteran starters give the Patriots high hopes for 2013.
Head coach: Bill Batchelor
2012 record/playoff finish: 23-12, first round of state playoffs
Returning starters: C/CF Taiylor Rinehart, Sr.; P/OF Ansley Jones, Sr.; SS/2B Samantha Leach, Sr.; 1B/3B Baylei Banfield, Jr.; P/3B Amanda Ablan, Soph.
Other key players/newcomers: SS/2B Kayla Louie, Soph.
Outlook: The reigning Region 8-AAAAAA champions, which came courtesy of region tourney wins over eventual state champion Archer, suffered a disappointing loss to Lassiter in three games in last year’s opener of state playoffs. They hope for a better run this season behind a pair of standout pitchers, Jones and Ablan.
Central Gwinnett Black Knights
Head coach: Nathan Berryman
2012 record: 9-13
Returning starters: P Faith Dickerson, Jr.; C Ashley Davis, Jr.; UP Jaimie Chandler, Soph.
Other key players/newcomers: SS Taylor Crousman, Fr.
Outlook: The battery of Dickerson and Davis will be important in terms of play and leadership, while Chandler and Crousman are solid underclassmen. The Black Knights have a roster of players limited on softball experience, but Berryman praises his team’s work ethic.
Head coach: Tracy Keefer
2012 record: 12-15-1
Returning starters: C Samantha Kates, Soph.; P Kendra Pfister, Sr.; P Keeli Waugh, Sr.; OF Kristin Lizardi, Jr.; SS Alexis Deadwyler, Soph.; OF Shania Norman, Sr.; DP/OF Madison Moseley, Jr.
Other key players/newcomers: P Alania Bock, Fr.; INF Bailey Beddingfield, Soph.
Outlook: Keefer expects some talented young players to push the Falcons’ solid group of returners, which is led by college commitments Waugh (Columbus State) and Pfister (Georgia Perimeter). Dacula finished third in 8-AAAAAA last year after the regular season, but slipped in the region tourney and just missed the state playoffs.
Head coach: Jennifer Edwards
2012 record/playoff finish: 20-16-1, second round of state playoffs
Returning starters: P/1B Breanna Ethridge, Sr.; CF Stephanie Snyder, Jr.; C Caroline Sandhagen, Jr.; P/OF Peyton Glover, Jr.; P/1B Jen Spangler, Jr.; 2B/OF Anna Newell, Jr.; OF Amanda Kemp, Jr.; SS Sierra Smith, Soph.; 3B Carley Batchelor, Soph.
Outlook: The Rams have just one senior returning starter — Dartmouth commit Ethridge — but a large group of younger players filled vital roles last season for a state playoff team. They hope to build off that big late-season push from last season and contend for a region championship this fall.
Head coach: Joey Farah
2012 record/playoff finish: 17-16-1, first round of state playoffs
Returning starters: OF Jordan Moody, Sr.; OF Patty Dennison, Sr.; C Sydney Dalton, Sr.; 2B Taylor Muirhead, Jr.; P/1B Kylie Gabrielson, Jr.; SS Lexi Walker, Soph.; 3B Josey Rogers, Soph.
Other key players/newcomers: 3B Sarah Allen, Jr.; OF Nikki Morales-Perez, Jr.; 2B/SS Autumn Sizemore, Soph.; OF Jessica Moody, Soph.; OF/C Katie Rogers, Soph.; 2B/C Jolee Wood, Soph.; P Victoria Turner, Soph.; P/OF Sami Rosa, Soph.; 3B/OF Alex Massaro, Fr.
Outlook: The Panthers will be very young in a lot of key positions, but the overall team experience level is pretty solid. The pitching depth, led by Gabrielson, is good, too as Parkview looks for a return trip to the state tournament.
Head coach: Reggie Ingram
2012 record: 5-20
Returning starters: OF/P Elizabeth Humes, Jr.; SS/OF Cortni Jones, Jr.; OF Cliniqua Spear, Jr.; 1B Areca Bender, Soph.
Other key players/newcomers: 2B Aleese Ingram, Fr.; UP Asha Watson, Fr.; 3B/C Jordynne Baronello, Fr.; OF Shamarie Green, Fr.; OF Sharai Lay, Fr.
Outlook: Ingram likes this team’s speed and athleticism, which he hopes translates into more wins this season. The Generals have four experienced players back, but will rely heavily on a talented freshman class immediately.
South Gwinnett Comets
Head coach: Audra Thomas
2012 record: 10-20
Returning starters: 3B Haley Swords, Soph.; P/OF Chelsea Twardowski, Soph.; 1B/C Destinee Turner, Jr.; SS Allye Sneed, Jr.; 2B Jackie Mathers, Soph.; C Kierra Mays, Jr.; OF Taylor Hogan, Sr.; OF Rachel Poplawski, Sr.; P Jessica Stokes, Sr.
Other key players/newcomers: OF Renequa Farrington, Jr.; 1B Jessica Walls, Sr.
Outlook: Eight returning starters are back as South attempts to improve on a 10-win season. Thomas likes those chances, praising her team’s work ethic in addition to adding experience from a year ago.
Collins Hill Eagles
Head coach: Paul Pierce
2012 record/playoff finish: 24-10, third in Class AAAAAA
Returning starters: C Laine Simmons, Sr.; 3B Calli Star, Sr.; P Amanda Chance, Jr.; P/INF Aeshia Miles, Jr.; OF Brea Dickey, Jr.; OF Reagan Morgan, Jr.; SS Jaimie Hoover, Soph.
Other key players/newcomers: OF Tyra Holliday, Jr.; C Madison Palmieri, Jr.; INF/DP Courtney Floor, Soph.
Outlook: After nearly reaching the state championship game last season, the Eagles are loaded with experience thanks to the return of seven starters, including college commitments Star (Columbus State), Simmons (Morehead State) and Morgan (Georgia State). Miles went 15-6 with a 1.31 ERA and 127 strikeouts last season as a sophomore.
Head coach: Dawn Marsh
2012 record/playoff finish: 18-12
Returning starters: 2B Cassie Kooker, Sr.; CF Toni Perrucci, Sr.; Flex Megan Sheridan, Sr.; 3B Lindsey McKinney, Sr.; LF Amanda Simpson, Soph.
Other key players/newcomers: P Rachel Holden, Jr.; OF Emma Ford, Jr.; OF Lauren Vinelli, Soph.; OF Rachel Matton, Soph.; C Sydnee Worthy, Fr.; SS Cameron Robinson, Fr.; OF Megan Waldheim, Fr.; 1B Haley Wallace, Fr.; P Annaleigh Autry, Fr.; 2B Hannah Mudgett, Fr.; P MacKenzie Yarbrough, Fr.; 3B Ashley Simpson, Fr.; P Margarita Torres, Fr.; OF Jada Franklin, Fr.; P Kayleen Nguyen, Fr.
Outlook: Though Duluth had a successful 2012 season, it fell short of a state playoff berth, so reaching state will be a major goal this season. Kooker, Perrucci, McKinney and Sheridan bring the senior leadership necessary on a varsity roster that features 11 freshmen.
Head coach: Jason Novak
2012 record: 0-16
Returning starters: Sandy Tach, Cynthia Boyso
Outlook: The Mustangs will play another non-region schedule as they attempt to build the program.
Mill Creek Hawks
Head coach: Roger Parham
2012 record/playoff finish: 23-15-1, fifth in state finals
Returning starters: 3B Morgan Bell, Sr.; LF Emily Robertson, Sr.; CF Kenzer Fagioli, Sr.; P Heather Felt, Sr.; C Emilie Lawrence, Soph.; 2B Sarah Peery, Sr.; OF Christina Evans, Sr.; P Kaitlyn Howell, Soph.; INF Lauren Welch, Sr.; 1B Carly Zabow, Jr.; OF Kaylyn Anthony, Soph.
Other key players/newcomers: P Skylar Howard, Fr.; SS Hannah Adams, Fr.; INF/OF Amanda Natsch, Fr.; OF Macayla Rood, Fr.
Outlook: Mill Creek will build on last year’s success, which included a state finals trip to Columbus, and the experience of 11 returning players who started at times last season. That group includes three college commitments already: Bell to Mississippi State, Peery to Brenau and Fagioli to Columbus State. An influx of freshman talent also should help the Hawks greatly.
Mountain View Bears
Head coach: Maria Sharrett
2012 record: 16-14
Returning starters: Courtney Cofino, Jr.; Erica Ebitz, Soph.; Meghan Tonnesen, Sr.; Kayla Morris, Jr.; Courtney Kichefski, Sr.; Shae Balzer, Soph.; Cara DeSandre, Jr.; Sammie Daugherty, Sr.; Alaina Daugherty, Jr.; Katie Mearkle, Jr.; Cierra Miller, Sr.
Other key players/newcomers: Payton Lindsey, Fr.; Madolyn Packer, Fr.; Addie Weatherford, Jr.; Courtney Roley, Fr.; Kristen Rogers, Fr.
Outlook: Still a young team, Mountain View has promise with a returning group of experienced players. Those 11 contributors helped the Bears to their first winning record last season.
Norcross Blue Devils
Head coach: Joe Padgett
2012 record: 9-15
Returning starters: 1B Nancy Thompson, Sr.; OF Rickary Holloman, Sr.; OF Mackenzie Bradford, Soph.; P/3B Vanessa Bradford, Soph.; 3B/C Jessee Hodge, Soph.; SS/C Hannah Laury, Soph.; P/1B Kelly Schmidt, Soph.
Other key players/newcomers: C/OF Alexandra Shores, Fr.; 3B/2B Jacqueline O’Reilly, Fr.
Outlook: Vanessa Bradford and Schmidt give the Blue Devils a strong 1-2 punch at the pitcher position, and both are part of a talented sophomore class that began contributing heavily last season as freshmen. That year of experience will help, but Norcross still may have seven underclassmen in its starting lineup.
North Gwinnett Bulldogs
Head coach: Randy Black
2012 record/playoff finish: 22-9-2, second round of state playoffs
Returning starters: P/1B Kinsley Jennings, Sr.; P/1B Hannah Harrison, Sr.; INF Lindsey Cobb, Sr.; C Moriah Strother, Sr.; OF Draven Sonnon, Sr.
Other key players/newcomers: P/OF Randi Tuck, Sr.; OF Chase Battle, Sr.; 3B Emily Dennis, Soph.; OF Kaitlin Andrews, Jr.; OF Brittany Godfrey, Jr.; 1B/C Natalie Tontillo, Jr.
Outlook: North made another state playoff appearance last season, only to lose a second-round matchup with eventual state champion Archer. Five starters return from that team, including Georgia Tech commit Sonnon (.370, five homers, 20 RBIs last season) and USC-Upstate commit Jennings (12-1), whose pitching in front of a strong defense up the middle will make the Bulldogs tough to beat.
Peachtree Ridge Lions
Head coach: Bubba Wilson
2012 record/playoff finish: 24-7, second round of state playoffs
Returning starters: INF Andie McGregor, Sr.; INF/OF Brandi Mason, Sr.; INF Maiah Johnson, Jr.; C/OF Savanna Turvy, Soph.
Other key players/newcomers: P Ashley Cook, Jr.; OF Nicole Tindol, Jr.; OF/C Dylin Lawhorn, Jr.; P/INF Laura Purcell, Fr.; C/INF Jennifer Milstein, Fr.; OF NaCayia Madison, Fr.; OF Wynter Webb, Fr.; INF/OF Lolli Yu, Fr.; INF/C Lizzy Hellstein, Fr.; INF/OF Esther Park, Fr.
Outlook: The Peachtree Ridge lineup will be filled with young players this season, as only four starters from last season are healthy (LeAnn Davis, another returning starter, is out with a season-ending injury). But the returners are quality players, with Turvy (.370), Johnson (.326) and Mason (.324) hitting well over .300 last year.
Head coach: John Kelly
2012 record/playoff finish: 13-19-1, first round of state playoffs
Returning starters: P Kaylee Ramos, Sr.; SS Hannah Coursey, Sr.; 2B Holland Coursey, Sr.; 1B Heather Kellett, Sr.; CF Lauren Pettit, Sr.; UP Noelle Petty, Soph.; LF Mariah Wirt, Jr.
Other key players/newcomers: 3B Taylor Rowe, Fr.; P Cameron Dillard, Fr.; OF Kirsten Laughlin, Fr.
Outlook: The Longhorns closed last season with great success, earning a state tourney berth. They hope that momentum continues this season with seven returning starters, strong pitching, solid defense and a stout offense. Ramos is a veteran presence in the circle, while the Coursey sisters, who have committed to Georgia College and State University, give consistent defense up the middle.
Head coach: Tony Wolfe
2012 record/playoff finish: 32-3, Class AAA state champions
Returning starters: OF Niki Cook, Sr.; C Noah Sudderth, Sr.; P Bria Bush, Jr.; P/1B Tessa Daniels, Jr.; 2B Jordan Deep, Jr.; OF Remington Hasty, Jr.; OF Sydney Stavro, Jr.; SS Drew Puckett, Soph.; 3B Baylee Sexton, Soph.
Other key players/newcomers: UP Morgan Walters, Sr.
Outlook: The Wolves, winners of a state-record six straight fastpitch softball state titles, are in good shape for a seventh in a row. They return the entire lineup that includes Tennessee commit Bria Bush (22-2, 0.99 ERA last year), Florida State commit Tessa Daniels (.462, two homers, 24 RBIs), Georgia Tech commit Jordan Deep (.406, seven homers, 30 RBIs) and reigning Class AAA player of the year Niki Cook (.469, 44 stolen bases). They also added a substantial senior transfer in Missouri commit Morgan Walters, who was the Class A player of the year last season for Mt. Pisgah when she hit .500 with 11 homers and 41 RBIs.
Head coach: Judy Tenney
2012 record/playoff finish: 10-12, first round of state playoffs
Returning starters: C/P Mary Johnson, Sr.; OF Grace DeBoer, Sr.; 3B Jordan Smalls, Sr.; OF Natalie deLatour, Sr.; INF Madi Feuerbach, Sr.; 1B Stephanie McIntosh, Soph.
Other key players/newcomers: INF Andrea Ahmed, Fr.; INF Sarah Braswell, Fr.; OF Katherine Facteau, Fr.; P Kristen Grimes; OF/C Claire Holcomb
Outlook: Johnson, DeBoer and Smalls are GAC senior leaders who started last season, while the senior class also got bigger when two other seniors, deLatour and Feuerbach, returned to the program. Those veterans will team up with a talented freshman class for what should be an improved team under longtime coach Tenney, who likes the Spartans’ work ethic and willingness to learn.
Head coach: Nichole Dixon
2012 record/playoff finish: 31-11, Class AA state runner-up
Returning starters: OF Landyn Duley, Sr.; P/INF Dacia Jones, Sr.; C Emily Farrow, Sr.; INF/OF Lillie Baker, Sr.; OF/INF Riley Henning, Jr.
Other key players/newcomers: OF Sydney Stone, Sr.; C/INF Meredith DiStasi, Jr.; P/INF Jameson Kavel, Fr.
Outlook: A solid core returns for a team that reached the Class AA state championship game last season. Though several top players graduated off the state runner-up team, standouts like Duley (a Georgia commitment) and Jones are back. Dixon likes the leadership from a senior group that has experienced a lot of playoff softball.
Head coach: LeAnn Mitchell
Returning starters: SS Emily Helton, Sr.; CF Hannah Atkinson, Sr.; C Athena Hawkins, Soph.; P/UP Emily Chiacchuria, Soph.; 1B Brooke McCollum, Soph.
Other key players/newcomers: 3B Taylor Poisal, Fr.
Outlook: After going winless in region play last season, the Lions look to be greatly improved. Mitchell is pleased with the building stages of the program, which should translate into more wins in future seasons. Helton, a Western Carolina commit, leads the way after hitting .382, .419 and .415 the past three seasons. She also leads a solid defensive infield at shortstop.
Head coach: Neal Cypher
2012 record: 8-20-2
Returning starters: 3B Katy Barry, Sr.; OF/C Brittany Tuttle, Sr.; SS MacKenzie Tuttle, Sr.; 1B Allison James, Soph.; OF Averie Ross, Soph.; P/INF Abigail Roberson, Soph.
Other key players/newcomers: P/INF Emily Barnett, Fr.; UP Alyssa Elliott, Fr.; UP Alison Brooks, Fr.
Outlook: After a rough 2012 record-wise, Providence aims for a better showing this year with an experienced group of returning players, with senior leaders Barry and the Tuttle sisters at the head of the pack. The Storm’s pitching should be greatly improved with Barnett leading the way.