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2022 Softball Preview: Team-by-team capsules
Emily Hutcheson
East Forsyth's Emily Hutcheson scores a run against Pierce County during the Class 3A state playoffs Oct. 21, 2021, at home. (FCN file photo)

Denmark

Head coach: Savannah Huffstetler, second season

Last year’s record: 14-14 (9-9 in Region 6-7A); First Round

Key returners: Avery Callaway (Jr. INF), Ellery Campbell (Sr. UTL), Sara Harris (So. 3B/SS), Jordan Williams (Jr. OF)

Key newcomer: Madeline Knop (So. OF)

Season outlook: Denmark was the definition of “average” in its first season under the director of Savannah Huffstetler, finishing .500 overall and in Region 6-7A. Average, though, was enough to see the former Lambert star guide the Danes to the playoffs, but a pair of close losses to eventual state champ North Gwinnett in the opening round led to an early postseason exit. Losing 2021 Forsyth County News Player of the Year Jessie DeNardo will be tough to overcome, but Huffstetler believes it’s “Columbus or bust” in 2022. She expects her team to be the “toughest, most prepared and grittiest team."

East Forsyth

Head coach: Dan Weber, second season

Last year’s record: 23-7 (18-1 in Region 7-3A); Sweet 16

Key returners: Cadence Alberty (So. P/INF), Ava Cowart (So. SS/OF), Emily Hutcheson (Sr. OF)

Key newcomers: Regan Bennett (Fr. UTL), Emily Heard (Fr. INF)

Season outlook: It would seem safe to say that East Forsyth exceeded any and all expectations those outside the program (and likely most of those inside the program, as well) had for the Broncos’ inaugural season. Forsyth County News Coach of the Year Dan Weber and his senior-less group came up just short of putting together an unbeaten Region 7-3A campaign. East Forsyth added three straight playoff wins before a pair of narrow losses to Pierce County ended their postseason run. Despite experiencing a step up in classification, a trip to Columbus could be in the cards this fall.

Forsyth Central

Head coach: Kelly Gordon, third season 

Last year’s record: 8-20 (3-14 in Region 6-7A)

Key returners: Reagan Bump (Sr. OF), Emily Caron (Sr. INF), Caroline Heard (Jr. C), Keeley O'Hara (Sr. OF), Taylor Jackson (Jr. INF), Kylie McTier (Jr. INF), Sydney Stephens (Jr. OF)

Key newcomers: Avery Clemons (So. UTL), Ava Metz (Fr. UTL)

Season outlook: Forsyth Central slumped to a sixth-place finish in Region 6-7A last season. Despite the struggles, there is still reason for relatively high expectations for the Bulldogs entering the 2022 campaign. A vast majority of Forsyth Central’s top players will be back this season. Senior Emily Caron leads the way after garnering first-team all-county selection last season. Talented juniors Caroline Heard, Taylor Jackson and Sydney Stephens — FCN honorable-mention picks — also return. "This is the year for us to prove that we have what it takes to win," head coach Kelly Gordon said.

Lambert

Head coach: Brooks Youngblood, ninth season 

Last year’s record: 29-6 (15-2 in Region 6-7A); Elite Eight

Key returners: Katelyn Boyette (Sr. SS), Hannah Cole (Jr. P), Hannah Cornetto (Jr. 3B), Ashley Fitts (Jr. C/DP), Elizabeth Harper (Sr. 1B), Emma Harwood (Sr. 2B/UTL), Courtney Sauer (Sr. P/OF)

Key newcomers: Ireland Egan (So. OF/UTL), Jane Fang (Jr. C), Bailee Jamison (So. OF), Grayson Moody (So. UTL), Paige Wenthworth (Fr. OF)

Season outlook: As the only program to reach Columbus, Lambert was the final team standing in Forsyth County last season. The Longhorns swept past Mountain View and Parkview in the opening two rounds of the playoffs before finishing 1-2 in the Class 7A double-elimination tournament. The scary thing for Lambert opponents is that the Longhorns could be even better this fall. Forsyth County News Pitcher of the Year Hannah Cole is back after a dominant sophomore season, and two-way senior standout Courtney Sauer could very well be the favorite for Region 6-7A Player of the Year.

North Forsyth

Head coach: Jim Cahill, sixth season of second stint (also 2002-07)

Last year’s record: 27-5 (17-1 Region 6-7A); First Round

Key returners: Trinity Bearden (So. P/1B), Abby Castleberry (Sr. C/OF), Logan Currie (So. OF), Lexie Durban (Jr. P/1B), Liz Hoch (Sr. INF/OF), Mary Grace Holden (Jr. INF), Alexis Monroe (Sr. INF), Addison Peck (Jr. INF/OF), Mandi Peretti (Jr. OF), Taylor Pipkins (Jr. INF), Ryleigh Sexton (Sr. OF/C), Emma Wheeler (Jr. OF)

Key newcomer: Olivia Swaim (Jr. INF/OF)

Season outlook: On the one hand, North Forsyth captured its third region title in the past four years in 2021, losing just once in 18 league games. On the other, the Raiders made an early postseason exit, falling to Mill Creek in a pair of low-scoring first-round games in the Class 7A playoffs. North Forsyth which is returning three first-team all-county picks, will move down to 6A this season and should once again be in position to challenge for 25-plus wins. As head coach Jim Cahill bluntly stated, the Raiders “expect to compete for the region championship and compete in Columbus for the 6A state championship.”

South Forsyth

Head coach: Leanne Brooks, fourth season 

Last year’s record: 14-17 (11-7 in Region 6-7A); First Round

Key returners: Kennedy Ariail (Sr. OF), Karly Casey (Sr. 1B), Ansley Chiang (Sr. SS), Josie Crossman (Jr. P), Audrey Hui (Sr. OF), Emme Souter (Sr. 3B)

Key newcomer: Annie Rose (Jr. C)

Season outlook: South Forsyth finished a distance third in Region 6-7A last year, but that had more to do with the stellar seasons put together by North Forsyth and Lambert than anything the War Eagles did wrong. With Milton entering the region and North Forsyth exiting, there still seems to be a strong top half of the league. A talented senior class led by Emme Souter, Kennedy Ariail, Karly Casey and Ansley Chiang should help keep South Forsyth in that group. Head coach Leanne Brooks expects her team to compete for a top-two seed and the program’s first trip to Columbus since 2016.

West Forsyth

Head coach: Steve Bohn, first season 

Last year’s record: 8-16 (6-11 in Region 6-7A)

Key returners: Emily Brown (Sr. OF), Lindleigh Cole (Sr. INF), Madi Heine (So. C), Rylee Ramirez (Sr. INF), Abby Williams (Sr. P)

Key newcomers: N/A

Season outlook: The cards are stacked against Steve Bohn in his first season leading West Forsyth, coming off a fifth-place showing in Region 6-7A in 2021. The Wolverines were certainly competitive last fall in the region, and it would have only taken a few breaks for the team to wind up .500 or better in the league. Senior Rylee Ramirez’s counting stats didn’t jump off the page last season, but her batting average (.378) and on-base percentage (.568) were among the county’s best. Pitching will be key for West Forsyth to challenge for a postseason berth after the team gave up 150 runs last year.