Preseason Softball Power Rankings
The 2020 softball season is knocking on the door. Let’s answer it with a look at each team and a rough first power ranking list. This is all subject to change a lot over the first few weeks of the season as we get to know each team a little better.
#1 BANKS COUNTY
COACH – Kelby Cronic (2nd Season)
2019 – 32-3; State Champions; Region 8-AA Champions; #1 State Ranking
Banks County comes back for an encore after a State Championship campaign that was one of…if not THE BEST…season we’ve ever seen by a local program. Yes, Tybee Denton is gone along with Jill Martinet and a slew of other talented players. However, coming back is Madi Cronic (.460 average, 2 HR, 14 RBI), who is set for a fantastic senior year. There are many young players like Jacy Ayers (.419 average) and Kylee Brooks (.457 average) who also made a splash last year. The winning formula exists, and even if the girls can’t repeat a 30-win, state title season, they’ll certainly still be a force to be reckoned with.
COACH – Kacie Bostwick (5th Season)
2019 – 25-11; State Elite 8; Region 3rd; #1 State Ranking
Ultimately, the Lady Dragons season was fantastic. That said, they fell short of expectations while in Columbus. That was a result of some tough breaks. After making the state championship game in 2018, and going to Columbus in 2019, Jefferson is looking to break through with a state championship in 2020. Returning is senior Livi Blackstock (.441 average) to lead the team, as well as Ravyn Saxon (1.83 ERA, 70 K) and Abby Beatty (.308 average). Gone is Caroline Brownlee, who was a primary piece of the lineup, but there is more than enough talent to keep this team atop the rankings.
COACH – Melissa Mullis (3rd Season)
2019 – 23-9; State Final Four; Region 8-A Champions; #3 State Ranking
Commerce reached the Final Four down in Columbus, and were so close to a state championship game. That program graduated four players, but returns a ton of talent. Carson Hobbs (.494 average, 5 HR, 33 RBI), Rachel Morgan (.389 average, 6 HR, 43 RBI), and Maggie Mullis (.341 average) will be the featured players back this season. Add in Gabbie Deaton, and that’s four All-State players coming back for 2020. It should be a very special ride that almost certainly sees a return to Columbus.
#4 LUMPKIN COUNTY
COACH – Joseph Jones (7th Season)
2019 – 20-14; State Elite 8; Region Runner-Up; #8 State Ranking
The Lady Indians are fresh off their first Columbus run since 2012. Going back to that year, this program has consistently been in the hunt, making state every year except 2015. Last year’s 20-win season was the third such Lumpkin team to accomplish that total since 2012. The team takes a hit with the departure of Natalie Robinson, Brighton Harder, and Evee Dornhecker – three very talented players. However, Lauren English (.380 average, 4 HR, 31 RBI) returns for her senior season, and will look to lead a program that churns out new talent each season. The girls should make a serious run at the region title.
#5 WHITE COUNTY
COACH – Drew Owens (6th Season)
2019 – 12-11; Region 5th; #4 State Ranking
The Lady Warriors’ 2019 season didn’t finish the same way it started. The girls were on fire early, earning a #4 state ranking in Class 4A. They narrowly missed out on state, snapping a three-year streak of getting there. That said, White County finally moves down into Class 3A, which means all these years of getting tougher is about to pay off. Drew Owens has some girls to build his team around, such as Liana O’Kelly, Annika Vandiver, Cree Cantrell, Kaitlyn Bowman, Katie Palmer, and Emily Anderson. Star Reagan Dunagan (.492 average) will miss her junior year after suffering an injury, but there are others who can step up in her absence. Look for White County to battle it out in 7-AAA.
#6 UNION COUNTY
COACH – Stephen Mitchell (3rd Season)
2019 – 16-15; State Sweet 16; Region Runner-Up
The Lady Panthers had a fantastic season that culminated with a Sweet 16 appearance for the first time since 2016. Stephen Mitchell has led Union to back-to-back playoff runs since taking over, and his team from last year is back almost entirely, as only two graduated. Despite losing Mary Wischmeyer and Trinity Queen, that means we’ll see many young players get a chance to make their mark on this program. Union will challenge 8-AA for a region crown.
#7 HABERSHAM CENTRAL
COACH – Bill Bradley (2nd Season)
2019 – 11-13; State Round 1; Region 4th
Habersham finally got back to the postseason last year for the first time since 2013. That’s a long stretch of tough breaks that kept them out in years prior. Back this year is Preslee Hix (.366 average, 2 HR, 17 RBI), Kyla Quiles (804, 2.66 ERA), Kilee Thomas (.337 average, 10 RBI), and Hailey Wade (.342 average, 14 RBI). That’s a LOT of talent. The problem is and has been the region/classification. Now that Buford is in the mix, it’s just insane and a lot has to go right for any Habersham team to get into the playoffs. The talent is certainly there.
#8 RABUN COUNTY
COACH – Angela Shepheard (3rd Season)
2019 – 14-9; State Sweet 16; Region 3rd
Rabun was one of the great feel-good stories of last year. Consider that 2017 saw the program win ZERO games, and only three in 2018. Then it was a sharp u-turn to 14 wins and second round appearance in state. Four seniors graduated, so there is no guarantee after losing Alyssa Fair and Sarah Sprinkle. However, back will be four juniors that are coming off great seasons in Isabelle Green (.349 average), Ayahna Jenkins (.349 average, 18 RBI), Brooklyn Jordan (.411 average, 13 RBI), and Courtney Stewart (.400 average, 13 RBI). The Lady Cats can be serious region title contenders along with Banks and Union.
#9 STEPHENS COUNTY
COACH – Dave Poffenberger (4th Season)
2019 – 13-14; State Round 1; Region 3rd
The Lady Indians look to keep the playoff streak alive after going to state now five years in a row. Back to lead the charge will be Jasmine Lowery (.407 average, 5 HR, 16 RBI), who is set for a Player of the Year type season, and she’ll be joined by Laney McGee (.431 average, 1 HR, 16 RBI). Kasey Westmoreland is one that graduated from last season, but there are many experienced players on this team.
#10 DAWSON COUNTY
COACH – Jimmy Pruett (13th Season)
2019 – 13-15; Region 5th
The Lady Tigers are back and looking to return to state after barely missing a year ago. There is certainly enough talent, led by Bella Henson (.387 average, 3 HR, 17 RBI), Olivia Martinez (.328 average, 2 HR, 16 RBI), and Annsley Kirby (.346 average, 1 HR, 10 RBI) leading the way. Gone are playmakers Kaylee Hamilton and Kaselyn Martin, though, so there are some holes to fill. Jimmy Pruett seems to always play to his team’s strengths, so Dawson will be right in the middle of contention and should almost assuredly get a playoff spot.
#11 TOWNS COUNTY
COACH – Clay Livingston (2nd Season)
2019 – 5-13; Region 6th
Towns County will enter 2020 looking to make state for the first time in at least 12 years. That relies heavily on senior Kennedi Henson (.552 average, 1 HR, 4 RBI) and how much talent will be around her.