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2019 SOFTBALL PREVIEW: Team-by-team capsules
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South Forsyth's Makenna Segal has been one of the region's most fearsome hitters this year, and her production could be key to a War Eagles playoff run. - photo by Ian Frazer
Lambert

Coach: Brooks Youngblood, sixth season

Last season: 8-18 overall, 4-7 Region 5-7A

Key returners: CF Lindsey Nelson, Sr.; IF Allie Sewell, Sr.; IF/P Brooke Miller, Sr.; 3B Kaley Varner, Sr.; RF Ansley Hyde, Sr.; C Anna Jackson, Sr.; IF Sydney Walker, Sr.; P Riley Rollings, Sr.; 1B Victoria Harper, Sr.; OF Colleen Thorson, Jr.; P/OF Kirsten Cowart, So.; OF Madison Todd, So.

Key newcomers: UTL/P Courtney Sauer, Fr.

Outlook: Lambert struggled offensively in 2018, only bringing across 42 total runs in region play last year, besting only last-place Milton in that area. Connecting on the timely hits that can make a difference will be the Longhorns’ primary goal, and by bringing back plenty of key seniors like Lindsey Nelson and Brooke Miller, Lambert will have a good chance to make the necessary improvements.

North Forsyth

Coach: Jim Cahill, third season, ninth overall

Last season: 17-15 overall, 7-4 Region 5-7A, lost in the second round of the Class 7A state playoffs

Key returners: IF Mallorie Black, Sr.; IF Abby Martin, Sr.; UTL Sara Lowe, Sr.; 1B/3B Katie Sarfaty, Sr.; OF Anslee Anderson, Sr.; P/OF  Kylie Sanders, Sr.; OF McKayla Cothran, Jr.; OF Adaline Nix, Jr.; 1B/P Hailey Mize, Jr.; C/OF Ashleigh Grace, Jr.; IF Maggie McBrayer, Jr.; C Kenzie Cron, Jr.

Key newcomers: N/A

Outlook: North took the 2018 Region 5-7A crown, and from the looks of it, the Raiders may be in an even better position to earn that title again this year. North brings back almost every starter from last year, including four 2018 first team all-county selections.

Hitting is what the Raiders did best last year, and there’s no reason to think this season will be any different on that front. Georgia Tech commit Mallorie Black will look to be the offense’s centerpiece again after hitting .457 with six home runs and 11 doubles as a junior. Abby Martin, McKayla Cothran and Hailey Mize will also figure to do damage in the lineup, and the Raiders are excited to welcome back Ashleigh Grace at catcher after she sat out all of last year.

The Raiders also boast plenty of team speed, but pitching depth is still a work in progress. Mize will be working to continue her ascent as the Raiders’ go-to pitching option: She posted a 2.84 ERA over 91 innings last year.

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Forsyth Central's Bailey McCachren celebrates with Bulldogs head coach Paul Cromie after hitting a walk-off home run in Central's region tournament game against West Forsyth on Oct. 3, 2018 at North Forsyth High School. - photo by Ian Frazer

Forsyth Central

Coach: Paul Cromie, second season

Last season: 15-11 overall, 6-4 Region 5-7A, lost in the first round of the Class 7A state playoffs

Key returners: P/1B Bailey McCachren, Sr.; 2B/UTL Sydney Moroney, Sr.; OF Ansley Clark, Sr.; INF Lauren Wall, Sr.; C/3B Caraline Bryant, Sr.

Key newcomers: OF Emma Lynch, Jr.

Outlook: The Bulldogs put together a respectable season in Paul Cromie’s first year at the helm, reaching the state playoffs with a good crop of upperclassmen leading the way. For 2019, some of those names like Sadie Waters and Grace Kiser have moved on, leaving some leadership roles to be filled.

Despite those departures, though, Central still has more than enough to be competitive in Region 5-7A this year. The Bulldogs return nine seniors, with six of them being starters. One of those returners is the reigning All-County Pitcher of the Year, Tennessee commit Bailey McCachren. She was unhittable at times during her junior year, posting a 1.57 ERA and 142 strikeouts over 98 innings.

South Forsyth

Coach: Leanne Brooks, first season

Last season: 13-16 overall, 6-4 Region 5-7A, lost in the second round of the Class 7A state playoffs

Key returners: 1B/3B Makenna Segal, Jr.; 2B Isabel Hui, Sr.; SS/OF Ruthie Allen, Jr.

Key newcomers: OF/C Audrey Hui, Fr.; SS Ansley Chaing, Fr.; OF Kennedy Ariail, Fr.

Outlook: The War Eagles made an offseason change at the head coaching position, with former assistant and South alumna Leanne Brooks taking the reins. She’ll have plenty to work with in her first season leading the charge: All-County Player of the Year Makenna Segal is back for her junior year after one of the best offensive seasons in county history (.476 AVG, 12 home runs, 31 RBIs), and Isabel Hui is coming off a second-team all-county season.

South will be one of the younger teams in the county, though, with a good amount of freshman coming into the program. The War Eagles’ coaching staff feels like they will have a strong defensive team, but with the amount of youth they have, there may be some room to grow.

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Denmark freshman Taylor Gajdik delivers a pitch during the Danes' softball game against Johns Creek on Aug. 7 at Fowler Park. It was the school's first-ever athletic event. - photo by David Almeda

Denmark

Coach: David Smart, second season

Last season: 3-17 overall, 1-11 Region 7-4A

Key returners:  IF Jessie DeNardo, So.; C Morgan Klimer, Sr.; P/IF Taylor Gajdik, So.

Key newcomers: IF Kayla Smith, Jr.; OF Emily Armstrong, Sr.

Outlook: Denmark softball opened its inaugural season by winning the school’s first-ever athletic event, but after that, there wasn’t that much to celebrate in 2018, as the Danes won just one region game en route to a three-win season. Denmark is still building its softball program up, and with plenty of underclassmen still on the roster, there are still some growing pains to be expected for 2019.

That’s not to say there weren’t any bright spots from last year: Denmark brings back two first-team all-county selections in Jessie DeNardo and Morgan Klimer. DeNardo, a Duke commit, was a power threat with five home runs and a .472 batting average, and teams struggled to keep Klimer (.571 AVG,.667 OBP) at bay. The Danes are still young, but head coach David Smart is expecting improvement from his team in year two.

West Forsyth

Coach: Justin Rickett, ninth season

Last season: 16-16 overall, 7-5 in Region 5-7A, lost in the first round of the Class 7A state playoffs

Key returners: P Maria Luce, Sr.; C Jenna Harris, Sr.; UTL Allie Jackson, Sr.; IF Olivia Finamore, Jr.; OF Caroline Hayes, Jr.; OF Grace Mangan, So.

Key newcomers: P Olivia Matlack, Jr.; INF Emma Britton, So.; OF Libby Nesbit, Jr.; C Hannah Holcomb, Jr.

Outlook: The Wolverines were a senior-laden group last year, and with all those players now graduated, West will be a team with a different look for 2019. The Wolverines have plenty of question marks, and experience could be an issue with the level of youth they have. Still, head coach Justin Rickett sees an athletic and talented team that can compete despite that.