With so much softball talent in Forsyth County, picking a player of the year before the season even begins definitely feels like a formality.
All four of the Region 6-6A schools last season made the state playoffs, with South Forsyth advancing all the way to Columbus before finally hitting a skid in the GHSA state championship bracket. Even Forsyth Central, which disappointingly was eliminated from the Region 7-5A tourney and missed the playoffs despite a winning record, boasts comparable talent that will compete in the new Region 5-7A this fall.
There’s elite talent on every team—it’s not just concentrated at one school or two. That’s why we’re dividing this list between the Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year.
Nevertheless, the FCN has to pick five candidates that top the deep list. Unfortunately, arguably the biggest name in Forsyth County might not play a game in her junior year—North Forsyth’s Haley Simpson, a South Carolina commit, isn’t slated to return from an ACL tear until October. That’s a big blow. In her sophomore campaign Simpson batted .422, had five doubles, two triples and a county-leading 24 stolen bases.
Simpson’s stat line has the juice to make her a unanimous pick, but she’ll have to wait until her senior year. But who are we kidding? Last season’s eventual POY was a quiet, emergent sophomore named Jordyn Harris. She burst onto the scene, even shocking her own coach, Ronnie Davis.
The safe bet is to start with last year’s winner, and then we’ll carefully work in a few more names.
JORDYN HARRIS // SOUTH FORSYTH
The rising junior middle-infielder had a breakout campaign for the Lady War Eagles in 2015, batting .466 with 55 hits, eight doubles, eight triples, two home runs and 38 RBI while also stealing eight bases.
Why Harris: Not only is Harris the FCN’s defending POY, but she was also named by the coaches to the 6-6A all-region team.
Even though her teammate Emily Harris (no relation) had comparable numbers, Jordyn showed off a clutch factor and ignited South’s offense when she moved from the back to the front of the order. Her balance of extra-base hits impress and her fielding improved drastically in her final year as an underclassmen.
Why not: Much to do with Harris’ gaudy numbers in 2015 came from a streaky month where she was almost unstoppable at the plate, playing well above any type of projectable production. The law of averages may not be friendly to Harris this year, and her teammates alone will be her own competition.
EMILY HARRIS // SOUTH FORSYTH
Why Harris: The rising senior bat .474 in 2015 with 55 hits, six doubles, three triples, 21 RBI, 44 runs scored and 11 stolen bases, earning first-team all-region honors.
Why Harris: She had nearly an identical season at the plate than last year’s POY, so it’s impossible not to put her on the list. The Young Harris commit also had the county’s best on-base percentage (.520) and brings senior leadership to a team capable of going after a state championship. If it weren’t for Jordyn’s absurd hitting streaks from last season Emily might be the defender of this award.
Why not: Anybody in the top half of South’s lineup has the potential to out-shine the other. It’ll be a traffic jam again in 2016 as long as nobody gets hurt, or if it turns out that all of them played well above their potential in last year’s seemingly magical run (not likely).
BIANCA MORA // SOUTH FORSYTH
The rising senior catcher hit .427 in 2015 with 47 hits, nine doubles, a triple, a team-leading seven home runs, 33 RBI and 31 runs scored, earning all-region honors at her position.
Why Mora: Everyone loves power hitters, and Mora can pack a punch at the plate. Mora led the county last season in home runs with seven—one above her best friend and pitcher Katherine Huey.
Behind the plate, Mora is rock-solid defensively. In 2015 she tied for the program record for fewest errors with just one, while also finishing just one point shy of the best fielding percentage in a season, which was set all the way back in 2003.
Why not: Despite her consistency behind the dish, Mora’s presence as a middle-lineup hitter puts a huge emphasis on her ability to hit for power. Any type of power numbers that drop off from last year and it’ll be tough to argue her up the ladder from last year.
BELLA CARACCIOLO // NORTH FORSYTH
The rising junior outfielder hit .432 in 2015 with 41 hits, seven doubles, two triples, four home runs, 28 RBI, 19 runs and 20 steals, earning first team all-region honors.
Why Caracciolo: With her outfield mate Haley Simpson not slated to return any time soon, Caracciolo will have more pressure on her shoulders to produce at the top of the lineup. Her balance of pin-point hitting and power make her a dangerous and versatile weapon.
In the field, she boasts an impressive .947 fielding percentage. The two-sport athlete has the speed to cover a lot of ground.
Why not: Of course, losing a player like Simpson can possibly have a negative impact on the production of the players that would be around her. While opponents’ respect for Caracciolo won’t change, their approach to her will be different without Simpson’s presence in the lineup. Caracciolo will need players around her to step up their game to help her flourish.
KASSIDY KRUPIT // LAMBERT
The rising junior infielder hit .391 in 2015 with 34 hits, 13 doubles, three home runs and 23 RBI while also stealing five bases, earning first-team all-region honors.
Why Krupit: The Delaware commit lives and breathes softball, evident in her versatility as an infielder, outfielder and pitcher. At the plate her doubles total of 13 impresses, while—for a smaller player—she offers deceptive power. Krupit also has the outspoken, commanding personality consistent with elite players. Expect her to demand more from others and herself as she enters life as a junior.
Why not: The only area of her game that really stuck out at the plate last year was the doubles. Really, Krupit will make more of a case for Pitcher of the Year after going 7-2 last year with six complete games and a 2.91 ERA.
Others to watch: Sadie Waters, Forsyth Central; Marissa Guimbarda, Lambert; Bailley Concatto, West Forsyth; Alana Frye, West Forsyth.