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2020 SOFTBALL PREVIEW: Team-by-team capsules
North Forsyth
North Forsyth lifts the Region 5-7A championship trophy in 2019 after beating South Forsyth, 6-4. - photo by David Roberts

Forsyth Central

Head coach: Kelly Gordon, first season

Last year's record: 13-19

Key Returners: Emma Lynch (Sr. OF), Abby Cox (Sr. 1B/C), Emily Caron (Soph. 3B)

Key Newcomers: Taylor Jackson (Fr. INF), Kennah Wall (Fr. INF), Olivia Swaim (Fr. OF), Mallory Smith (Fr. P/OF)

Season outlook: First-year head coach Kelly Gordon says the Bulldogs’ pitching and offensive production will be key after losing current Tennessee freshman Bailey McCachren and a strong senior class. Still, Gordon describes Central as young, fast and athletic. Central’s top seven hitters from last season graduated, but third baseman Emily Caron built a solid freshman campaign (13 for 66), while senior Abby Cox impressed in limited action, hitting .280 (7 for 28) with two RBIs and a double.

Denmark

Head coach: David Smart, third season

Last year’s record: 19-12

Key returners: Taylor Gajdik (Jr. P), Jessie DeNardo (Jr. SS), Kayla Smith (Sr. 3B), Ellery Campbell (Soph. 2B), Kiersten Bell (Soph. C)

Key newcomers: Jordan Williams (CF), Avery Wentz (P), Avery Callaway (Fr. LF)

Season outlook: Head coach David Smart calls making the jump to Class 7A a “tremendous challenge,” though the Danes are talented and should hold their own in Region 6-7A. Shortstop Jessie DeNardo was one of the best players in the county last season, hitting .423 and striking out just six times in 97 plate appearances. Taylor Gajdik (.443) and Kayla Smith (.382) will help anchor the lineup, while catcher Kiersten Bell in a legitimate power threat (5 home runs in 2019).

Lambert

Head coach: Brooks Youngblood, seventh season

Last year's record: 10-17

Key returners: Courtney Sauer (Soph. P/OF), Kirsten Cowart (Jr. P/OF), Maddie Todd (Jr. OF), Colleen Thorson (Sr. IF)

Key newcomers: Sydney Chung (Jr. C), Emma Harwood (Soph. IF), Katelyn Boyette (Soph. IF), Hannah Cole (Fr. P/OF), Hannah Cornetto (Fr. IF)

Season outlook: Head coach Brooks Youngblood calls this season a “reset button” season after losing nine key seniors, including seven starters. Courtney Sauer was one of Lambert’s top offensive players last year as a sophomore, hitting .321 and scoring 12 runs. She also collected five wins and compiled a 3.24 ERA, which was the lowest on the team. Junior Kirsten Cowart (4-4, 3.50 ERA) will also add depth in the pitcher’s circle. The Longhorns will need its young offense to grow up early to keep pace with a challenging Region 6-7A.

North Forsyth

Head coach: Jim Cahill, fourth season

Last year's record: 31-5

Key returners: Lauren Fields (Jr. IF), Ashleigh Grace (Sr. C/IF), Adaline Nix (Sr. OF), McKayla Cothran (Sr. OF), Maggie McBrayer (Sr. IF), Emily Hutcheson (Soph. OF), Ali Jones (Jr. IF), Kenzie Cron (Sr. C/OF), Bri Deleon (Jr. P/1B), Hailey Mize (Sr. P/1B)

Key newcomers: Olivia Tyson (Jr. 1B/P)

Season outlook: The top team in the county the past two years, North Forsyth is set to defend its region title despite losing current Georgia Tech freshman Mallorie Black to graduation. Senior Ashleigh Grace was the Region 5-7A Player of the Year after hitting .521 with 30 stolen bases. In addition to Grace, seniors McKayla Cothran (.478) and Hailey Mize (12-1, 2.55 ERA) were also first-team All-County selections a year ago. North picked up Mill Creek transfer Olivia Tyson, a pitcher who should give the Raiders another viable option after Mize. North reached the state tournament in Columbus last year, going 1-2, including a slim 3-2 loss to eventual state champion Mountain View in the first round.

South Forsyth

Head coach: Leanne Brooks, second season

Last year's record: 15-19

Key returners: Makenna Segal (Sr. 3B/1B), Ruthie Allen (Sr. SS/C), Hannah Marchman (Sr. P/1B), Chloe Traynor (Sr. C/1B), Katie Traynor (Sr. P/OF), Audrey Hui (Soph. OF/C), Ansley Chaing (Soph. SS/2B/OF), Kennedy Ariail (Soph. OF)

Key newcomers: Annie Rose (Fr. SS), Josie Crossman (Fr. P/1B), Megan Lochhead (Fr. C)

Season outlook: Considered the county’s youngest team a year ago, South Forsyth made a push to capture the Region 5-7A championship but fell to North Forsyth. The War Eagles return the county’s top offensive player in Makenna Segal, an Ole Miss commit who is Forsyth County’s all-time leader in career home runs. Segal walked 43 times last year, so the War Eagles will look to build a lineup that protects their slugger. That could mean Katie Traynor (.221, 23 RBIs) or Kennedy Ariail (.229) hitting behind Segal. South returns both of its pitchers from last year in Hannah Marchman (10-9, 3.56 ERA) and Traynor (3-6, 2.73 ERA), while freshman Josie Crossman will contribute, too.

West Forsyth

Head coach: Justin Rickett, 10th season

Last year's record: 5-20

Key returners: Caroline Hayes (Sr. RF), Olivia Finamore (Sr. 3B), Olivia Matlack (Sr. P), Hannah Holcomb (Sr.), Grace Mangan (Jr. OF), Emily Brown (So.), Lillian Sietz (So.), Rylee Ramirez (So. CF), Abigayle Telesco (So. C), Abby Williams (So. P/DP)

Key newcomers: Emma Britten (Jr. 1B), Marisa Carter (Jr.), Breanna Whitlow (Jr.), Lindleigh Cole (So. 2B)

Season outlook: Another young team, West Forsyth has only four seniors this season – Caroline Hayes, Hannah Holcomb, Olivia Matlack and Olivia Finamore – and several sophomores and juniors who contributed last year. Grace Mangan, one of the top sprinters in the area, was the Region 5-7A Defensive Player of the Year last year and hit .429 on offense, stealing 22 bases. Abby Williams (.296), Abigayle Telesco (.250) and Emily Brown (.288) impressed last season as freshmen, with Brown earning second-team All-Region honors. Williams appears to be the team’s primary pitcher, with Matlack also expected to see time.