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SOFTBALL PREVIEW: Team-by-team capsules

POSTED: August 7, 2014 3:37 p.m.
 

FORSYTH CENTRAL

Coach: Kaelin Farrington, second season.

Last season: 16-11.

Key returners: OF Lexi Bump, sr.; INF Alexa Hull, jr.; INF/C Marisa Hull, jr.; P/INF Carrlyn Kiser, sr.; P/INF Caroline Thomas, sr.

Key newcomers: INF/OF Skylar Caine, fr.; Sydney Pajerski, fr.; INF Lindsey Race, so.; OF Karah Straub, fr.

Outlook: The Lady Bulldogs seem to be in position to take the next step after coming one game short of making the state tournament last season. Back are senior pitchers Carrlyn Kiser and Caroline Thomas, who give Central ample varsity experience on the mound. Back are junior twin sisters Alexa and Marisa Hull. Alexa could anchor the infield at shortstop, while Marisa will be the primary catcher. And back is senior centerfielder Lexi Bump, a power slapper and arguably the team’s best returning hitter. How a host of underclassmen, led by freshman Skylar Craine, transition to the varsity level could decide Central’s season. Craine will be asked to bat leadoff and possibly play shortstop. But for all the on-field question marks, second-year head coach Kaelin Farrington is most concerned with the team’s propensity last season to gives up leads late in games last season. “They need to attack the game like they are trying to win instead of playing to lose,” she said.

LAMBERT

Coach: Brooks Youngblood, first season.

Last season: 30-5, lost in Class AAAAAA second round.

Key returners: CF Maddie Butz, jr.; P/1B Marissa Guimbarda, so.; SS Savannah Huffstetler, sr.; UTL Zoe Miller, jr.; 3B/C Macy Stovall, sr.

Key newcomers: OF Katlin Holloway, jr.; P/UTL Kassidy Krupit, fr

Outlook: The reigning Region 6-AAAAAA champions enter the season after plenty of transition – the loss of nine seniors, including pitcher Kassie Howard, the 2013 Forsyth County Softball Player of the Year, and head coach Dana Corr who started the program in 2009. Assistant coach Brooks Youngblood takes over, and his biggest task will be to figure out how to replace Howard. Sophomore Marissa Guimbarda and freshman Kassidy Krupit are likely to share the pitching load this season, along with senior Audrey Merrill. The good news for Lambert is its lineup looks formidable again, led by fourth-year starter Savannah Huffstetler, a rising senior who is committed to Tennessee and will play shortstop, and third-year starter Maddie Butz, a junior who will play center and bat leadoff. If Guimbarda, Krupit and Merrill can solidify Lambert’s pitching, it should contend for a region title again.

NORTH FORSYTH

Coach: Bud Henderson, sixth season.

Last season: 15-14

Key returner: 3B Karlee Grab, sr.; C Breena Gwaltney, sr.; SS Autumn Musgrave, jr.; P Sara King, so.

Key newcomers: SS Addie Harris, fr.; INF Payton Martin, fr.; 2B Madalyn Oliver, fr.; OF Haley Simpson, fr.

Outlook: Consider this: Of the 26 girls in North Forsyth’s program this season, 21 are either freshman or sophomore. It speaks to the amount of experience the Lady Raiders lost to graduation after reaching the state tournament a year ago. There was starting pitcher Lea Ann Porter, who threw the bulk of innings for North. The middle infield of shortstop Jenna Zirlott (.347) and second baseman Andrea Coleman (.372) has to be replaced. So does first baseman Sydney Turner (.474), the program’s all-time leader in RBIs. North figures to lean on junior catcher Breena Gwaltney in the lineup after she hit .424 with five doubles, four triples and 18 RBIs last season en route to all-county honors.

PINECREST ACADEMY

Coach: Daniel Stockdale, second season.

Last season: Did not play a GHSA schedule.

Key returners: 3B/P Maddie Brabrook, jr.; P Christine Brinson, so.; OF/P Laura Fazio, jr.; INF Kimmie Quattrocchi, jr.; C/INF Jacinta Tran, jr.

Key newcomers: 1B Dani Quintana, sr.; UTL Anna-Paula Sanchez, jr.

Outlook: Pinecrest Academy should have one of the more unique seasons in the state. The Lady Paladins will join the GHSA after playing in the Alpharetta Parks and Rec league last year as the school built the program from scratch. Without a softball field, all of Pinecrest’s games in its non-region schedule will be on the road. Meanwhile, second-year coach Daniel Stockdale, who also coaches the baseball team, acknowledges most Lady Paladins players are brand new to the sport. He’s emphasized the team improving with every drill at every practice. “They have a positive attitude, and they’re willing to learn,” Stockdale said. “They know the storm is coming, but they’re OK with that.”

SOUTH FORSYTH

Coach: Ronnie Davis, 13th season.

Last season: 19-16, lost in Class AAAAAA first round.

Key returners: P Kara Bilodeau, so.; INF/P Emily Harris, OF Stephanie Harris, sr.; P Katherine Huey, so.; INF Amy Kilmer, so.; INF Bianca Mora, so.; OF Sarah Nelms, sr.; C Sofia Tapia, jr.

Key newcomers: OF/C Maddie Clawson, so.; OF/INF Keira Mell, so.

Outlook: Perhaps no team returns as much talent yet has as big a hole to fill as the Lady War Eagles. South returns seven starters from last season’s team that finished runner-up in Region 6-AAAAAA. Veteran coach Ronnie Davis thinks this team’s strength will be up the middle with catcher Sofia Tapia, pitchers Kara Bilodeau and Katherine Huey, shortstop Emily Harris and second baseman Amy Kilmer and centerfielder Stephanie Harris. But Emily Harris has big shoes to fill in replacing Mercer signee Meghan Rud, the 2012 Forsyth County Softball Player of the Year. Someone between the Harris sisters and sophomore Keira Mell will fill Rud’s leadoff spot in the lineup where she got on base and wreaked havoc on the base paths. But Davis thinks this team is capable of overcoming the graduation of Rud thanks to its experience last season in hosting the first round of the state tournament. “With as many returners coming back as we have, our sights are set on competing for a region championship and making it to Columbus,” Davis said.

WEST FORSYTH

Coach: Justin Rickett, fourth season.

Last season: 20-12, lost in Class AAAAAA first round.

Key returners: C/OF Randee Bernstein, so.; P Kelly Carpenter, jr.; INF Bailley Concatto, so.; CF Peyton Erb, sr.; C/INF Alana Frye, so.; INF Tatum Nicewinder, sr.; C Caitlin Parks, sr.; INF Hayla Seitz, jr.

Key newcomers: OF Mikki Adams, jr.; INF Chelsea Coussan, jr.; OF Maggie Dickman, jr.; INF/OF Kayla Hardy, so.; INF/OF Paighton Roushey, sr.

Outlook: Expect the Lady Wolverines to be one of the more experienced teams this season. Sure, catcher/outfielder Randee Bernstein, infielder Bailey Concatto and catcher/infielder Alana Frye are all sophomores, but they either started last season or saw significant varsity playing time. Meanwhile, plenty more experience returns in senior catch Caitlin Parks, senior infielder Tatum Nicewinder and junior infielder Hayla Seitz. Junior pitcher Kelly Carpenter looks to take over on the mound for Lauren Bearden, an all-county selection last season. Fourth-year head coach Justin Rickett expects all this experience to translate into a fast start as long as the team can score runs and cut down on defensive mistakes. “We have worked very had this summer in preparation and are very excited about the opportunity for us to compete every inning and every pitch,” West coach Justin Rickett said.

 

 

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