Coach: David Smart, first season
Last season: N/A
Key returners: N/A
Key Newcomers: IF Jessi DeNardo, Fr.; C Morgan Klimer, Jr.; P/IF Taylor Gajdik, Fr.
Outlook: Only time will tell how the Danes do in their first season of competition, but one thing is certain — they’re very young. To head coach David Smart, that’s a double-edged sword, but he hopes his team can outperform its years in Region 7-4A play. Morgan Kilmer comes over from South Forsyth and will look to be a key leader from behind the plate.
Coach: Paul Cromie, first season
Last season: 15-8 overall, 9-6 in Region 5-7A, lost in first round of the Class 7A state playoffs
Key returners: OF Sadie Waters, Sr.; C Grace Kiser, Sr.; P Bailey McCachren, Jr.; Lauren Wall, Jr;
Key newcomers: 3B/C Caraline Bryant, Jr.
Outlook: Former North Gwinnett assistant Paul Cromie takes the reins of the Central program after Kaelin Stevens stepped down in late March. Cromie inherits a team that reached the playoffs last season for the first time since 2012. Several key pieces are back in the mix: Senior outfielder Sadie Waters is one of the better hitters in the county (.366 AVG, 17 RBIs), and the Bulldogs also bring back pitcher Bailey McCachren (Campbell University commit) and catcher Grace Kizer (Columbus State), college-bound battery-mates.
Coach: Brooks Youngblood, fifth season
Last season: 20-13 overall, 9-6 in Region 5-7A, lost in GHSA Softball Championships
Key returners: 1B Ansley Dean, Sr.; P/IF Brooke Miller, Jr.; CF Lindsey Nelson, Jr.; INF Alexis Sewell, Jr.; 3B Kaley Varner, Jr.
Key newcomers: C Anna Jackson, Jr.; OF Ansley Hyde, Jr.; INF Sydney Walker, Jr.
Outlook: The Longhorns have been no stranger to success in the last two seasons, advancing to the GHSA Softball Championships in both 2016 and 2017. This season, the core that led them to that point will take a little bit of a hit – they will have to deal with the loss of a strong senior class that included 2017 All-County player/pitcher of the Year Kassidy Krupit. Lambert will still have some experienced starters from those two seasons, though.
Leading that group will be first-team All-County selection and Samford commit Lindsey Nelson, who is coming off a sophomore season in which she hit .383 with six doubles and four RBIs, and University of North Carolina commit Brooke Miller, a junior who missed a chunk of last season to injury but still managed three home runs and a .411 on-base percentage. Ansley Dean will provide key leadership as a returning senior at first base.
Coach: Jim Cahill, second season
Last season: 14-14 overall, 8-7 in Region 5-7A, lost in first round of Class 7A playoffs
Key returners: C Ashleigh Grace, So.; IF Mallorie Black, Jr.; IF Abby Martin, Jr.; OF Anslee Anderon, Jr.; OF Brooke Black, Sr.; P Mackenzie Marvin, Sr.; P Sarah Lowe, Jr.; UTIL Katie Jordan, Sr.; OF Ali Buffington, Sr.
Key Newcomers: P Ella Hill, So.; INF Kylie Sanders, Jr.; P Hailey Mize, So.; INF Katie Sarfaty, Jr.; INF Maggie McBrayer, So.; OF McKayla Cothran, So.; OF Adeline Nix, So.
Outlook: The Raiders struggled at the end of last season, losing three straight region games and getting swept by North Gwinnett in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs. They’ll be replacing five starters from the 2017 team, including first team All-FCN outfielder Haley Simpson, who is now at South Carolina. Among the Raiders’ key returners are Georgia Tech commit Mallorie Black (.478 AVG, 14 extra base hits, 35 RBIs) and catcher Ashleigh Grace, who burst onto the scene in her freshman year (.461 AVG, 25 R, 16 SB). North feels that its strengths will be in team speed and on defense, and they’ll need both to make it back to the playoffs.
Coach: Ronnie Davis, 17th season
Last season: 15-10 overall, 12-3 in Region 5-7A, lost in second round of Class 7A playoffs
Key returners: P Lauren Baccari, Sr.; INF Makenna Segal, So.; INF Izzy Hui, Jr.; OF/IF Kayla Mayoros, Sr.; C/1B Kylie League, Sr.
Key Newcomers: 3B/SS Ruthie Allen, So.; C Chloe Traynor, So.; P/OF Katie Traynor, So.; C Katie Jenkins, So.; P/INF Hannah Marchman, So.
Outlook: South will have to contend with both the loss of some key senior infielders and some of its younger talent transferring to Denmark. As a result of all that, head coach Ronnie Davis says that depth and inexperience will be the biggest issues for the War Eagles for 2018. Despite that, there will still be some key cornerstone players in place for this year that could spur success, with workhorse pitcher and first team All-County selection Lauren Baccari (15-7, 2.12 ERA, 158 1/3 IP) returning for her senior year. Makenna Segal made a big impact as a freshman (.405, 8 HR, 35 RBIs) and will be critical to the War Eagles’ success at the plate, along with Izzy Hui and Kylie League.
Coach: Justin Rickett, eighth season
Last season: 9-16 overall, 6-9 in Region 5-7A
Key returners: P Hannah Guthrie, Sr.; OF/1B Kelsey Schell, Sr.; INF Ashley Shell, Sr.; UTL Lindsey Andrews, Sr.; C Emily Kraft, Sr.; OF/INF Katelyn Cooper, Sr.; P/INF Avery Wasilichak, Sr.; C Jenna Harris, Jr.; INF Bailee Martin, Jr.; OF Gracie Martin, Sr.
Key newcomers: P Madison Michael, Sr.; P/1B Maria Luce, Jr.; P/INF Olivia Finamore, So.; OF Caroline Hayes, So.; OF Allie Jackson, Jr.; OF Grace Mangan, Fr.
Outlook: West may have missed out on the state playoffs last season, but it has reason to be confident heading into 2018. With nine seniors set to return to go along with some impact newcomers like pitcher Madison Michael, who transferred in from North Carolina, West appears to be in a good position to make a run. Hannah Guthrie, a 2017 first-team All-FCN selection, returns to the circle after a solid junior campaign, with a 2.50 ERA over 106 innings last season. Infielder Kelsey Schell is set to be a key offensive weapon after a notching a .338 average, four home runs and 20 RBIs in her first-team All-FCN junior season. The big concern is defense – if the Wolverines can get better on that front and give their pitchers more run support than they did last year, they could be tough to beat.