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2021 SOFTBALL PREVIEW: Team-by-team capsules


Head coach: Savannah Huffstetler, first season

Last year’s record: 11-13, fifth in Region 6-7A

Key Returners: Jessie DeNardo (Sr. INF), Jordan Williams (So. OF), Kiersten Bell (Jr. C), Avery Callaway (So. UTL), Mary Kate Leonard (So. P), and Taylor Gajdik (Sr. P/INF)

Key Newcomers: Sara Harris (Fr. INF)

Season outlook: New Danes head coach Savannah Huffstetler has zero interest in making this year a transition year. After just missing the state tournament last year, Denmark is ready to play “faster, harder, tougher and more aggressive than any other team,” according to Huffstetler. She returns several key starters from last season's team that scored five runs per game last season. Jessie DeNardo and Kiersten Bell are key upperclassmen bats that the Danes will need to produce to make the jump to a region champion contender. 

East Forsyth 

Head coach: Dan Weber, first season 

Key Players: Emily Hutchinson (Jr. OF) Cadance Alberty (Fr. P), and Abi Shaheen (So. P)

Season outlook: Head coach Dan Weber spent the last few seasons as an assistant coach at South Forsyth. Starting a new program, Weber knows his team is going to be young. Emily Hutchinson is the only player with any varsity experience, coming from North Forsyth. In their brief action so far this summer, Weber said he likes what he sees and is excited to get the entire team together once the school year starts. He said his girls are bringing an “exciting, youthful energy” to the diamond every day. Though it is the Broncos' first year, Weber added that he wants his team to compete and see if they can play spoiler in Region 7-3A and steal a playoff spot.

Forsyth Central 

Head coach: Kelly Gordon, second season 

Last year’s record: 7-23, sixth in Region 6-7A

Key Returners: Reagan Bump (Jr. OF), Emily Caron (Jr. INF), Taylor Jackson (So. INF), Kylie McTier (So. INF) and Keeley O’Hara (Jr. OF) 

Key Newcomers: Hailey Berman (Fr. UTL) and Ester Knight (Fr. P)

Season outlook: Being young will no longer be an excuse for the Bulldogs. Head coach Kelly Gordon feels like it is time for the Bulldogs to take control of their own destiny and will look to use their speed and athleticism to play lights out defense and run like crazy against their region opponents. Offensive consistency and quality at-bats will be key to their success this season. Taylor Jackson, Reagan Bump and Emily Caron all hit over .300 at the plate and the Bulldogs will need them to continue to get on base if the Bulldogs plan on returning to the state tournament. 


Head coach: Brooks Youngblood, eighth season 

Last year’s record: 18-15, third in Region 6-7A

Key Returners: Courtney Sauer (JR. P/OF) and Hannah Cole (So. P/INF/OF)

Key Newcomers: Ireland Egan (Fr. INF) 

Season outlook: Brooks Youngblood returns eight of his nine starters to a Longhorns softball team that made it to the Sweet 16 of the state tournament last year. Youngblood said that pitching will be the forefront of his team this year and the numbers don’t lie. Hannah Cole threw 95 innings and 91 strikeouts for the Longhorns in her freshman year. With four other returning starters that hit over .300 at the plate last season, expect the Longhorns to make some noise. 

North Forsyth 

Head coach: Jim Cahill, fifth season 

Last year’s record: 25-11, second in Region 6-7A

Key Returners: Riley Barker (Jr. OF), Abby Castleberry (Jr. C), Bri Deleon (Sr. P/INF), Lexi Durban (So. P/INF), Lauren Fields (Sr. INF/OF), Mary Grace Holden (So. INF), Ali Jones (Sr. INF), Alexis Monroe (Jr. INF), Addison Peck (So. INF), Taylor Pipkins (So. INF/OF) and Olivia Tyson (Sr. P/INF). 

Key Newcomers: Logan Currie (Fr. OF), Liz Hoch (Jr. INF), Haley Schmidt (Sr. C) and Ryleigh Sexton (Jr. C/IF). 

Season outlook: Raiders head coach Jim Cahill doesn’t mince his words. He bluntly expects his team to be able to compete for a state title next season. Cahill will have five seniors on his roster in hopes of bouncing back after failing to win the region championship last year after winning the two previous titles. Senior pitchers Bri Deleon and Olivia Tyson plan to give the Raiders a boost on the mound. Tyson kept opposing batters to a .178 batting average last season with 81 strikeouts. Senior Lauren Fields has potential Player of the Year buzz after hitting .505 at the plate last season. 

South Forsyth 

Head coach: Leanne Brooks, third season 

Last year’s record: 23-5-1, first in Region 6-7A

Key Returners: Josie Crossman (So. P), Emme Souter (Jr. INF), Kennedy Ariail (Jr. OF) and Ansley Chiang (Jr. INF)

Key Newcomers: N/A

Season outlook: The War Eagles stole away the region championship for North Forsyth after battling them closely for it the last two years and they did it with five sophomores out with injuries at the end of the season. This year, head coach Leanne Brooks said she’s excited for another opportunity to make a deep state playoff run. Replacing talents like Makenna Segal (Ole Miss) and Ruthie Allen (Walters State) will not be a cake walk, but Brooks is eager to see what her massive junior class, led by center fielder Kennedy Ariail and third baseman Emme Souter can do. 

West Forsyth 

Head coach: Maci Fletcher, first season 

Last year’s record: 10-21, fourth in Region 6-7A 

Key Returners: Grace Mangan (Sr. OF), Abby Williams (Jr. P), Emma Britten (Sr. P),  Lindleigh Cole (Jr. INF) and Emily Brown (Jr. OF) 

Key Newcomers: Madi Heine (Fr. C) 

Season outlook: With new head coach Maci Fletcher under helm for the Wolverines, they hope to bounce back after finishing six games below .500 last season. Fletcher said her team has been working hard in the weight room and are focusing on being as efficient as possible in their upcoming season. Grace Mangan heads into her senior season at West already the career leader in stolen bases and will look to be a leader in the outfield. Fletcher hopes to see an improvement on defense from the 2021 season.