Baseball Previews & Preseason Power Rankings – 2021
Baseball season is here! With the 2020 abbreviated season giving us just a glimpse, we’re hopefully in for a full run in 2021. Here are the previews and initial Power Rankings for Baseball!
#1 BANKS COUNTY
HEAD COACH: Payton Hart
2020 RECORD: 12-4
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Caden Cotton, Justin Whitehead, Dylan Greenway, Braxton Simpson, Parker Hobson, Kobe Westmoreland
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Tripp Williams, Ty Burchett, Jonathon Moon, Clay Angel, Wyatt Whitfield, Bowen Roberts, Nolan Hill, Cade Herrin
TEAM STRENGTH: “Veteran returners – 7 starters returning,” says Hart. “Five of them have started three years plus. Pitchers Tripp Williams (Georgia Southern Commit), Nolan Hill (Milwaukee Area Tech JUCO commit), Ty Burchett – all are back from last year as a three-headed pitching trio.”
OUTLOOK: “Keys for us: staying healthy and scoring runs,” adds Hart. “8-AA will be a tough region again. If we can score some runs, I feel that we have a good chance to compete for a region title. I look for our veteran players to step up and lead once again, and follow in the footsteps and the legacy that our 2020 seniors left.”
Banks County is ranked #3 in the Preseason state polls for Class 2A.
HEAD COACH: Tommy Knight
2020 RECORD: 6-7
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Brycen Jewell, Kade McNally, Trey McEver
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Mason Cooper, Bowman Horn, Cole Watkins, Rem Maxwell, Nick Sellers, Jake Walker
TEAM STRENGTH: “Experience will be a strong point for this year’s team,” says Knight. “We return several players who have started either 3 or 4 years.”
OUTLOOK: “We return a wealth of experience in 2021,” says Knight. “Our region may be the toughest AAAA region in the state with 3 teams preseason ranked in the top 5.”
Jefferson is ranked #5 in the Preseason state polls for Class 4A.
#3 TOWNS COUNTY
HEAD COACH: Shannon Floyd
2020 RECORD: 6-1
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Jacob Kinsey
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Aidan Berrong, Collin Crowder, Cabe Poston, Brack Burrell, Kyle Oakes, Caleb Berrong; key freshmen Seth Gillis, Drew Sofield, Zane Floyd, Connor Chastain
TEAM STRENGTH: Key players returning like Berrong, Crowder, Poston, Burrell, and Oakes, and a great number of others who will be big contributors.
OUTLOOK: “2020 was a great start to a rebuilding year last year,” says Floyd. “As everyone else, we were tremendously disappointed in how it ended. This year we want to pick up where we left off and compete for a playoff spot in Region 8A. To start the season we will be sharing many athletes with basketball. This will give opportunity for many players to get a close look and given a chance to perform. New players will be expected to contribute early and keep it together until key players return. We are excited about the upcoming season.”
HEAD COACH: Steve Cottrell
2020 RECORD: 7-4
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Colby Rogers, Kody Mintz, Evan Davis (tragically passed away), TJ Trudnak
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Colin Welch, Cory Freeman, Gray Holbrook, Mathew Martin, Kane Goldman, Will Slater, Tyler Herring
TEAM STRENGTH: “Our Strength will be that most of our guys have been through the gauntlet over the past few years,” says Cottrell. “Our schedule is a very tough schedule before region play, so we will find out a lot about us from the beginning.”
OUTLOOK: “The biggest thing is our kids are excited to get on the field and get this season under way after what took place last spring,” says Cottrell. “We will face adversity the first two weeks and I expect our kids to handle it and compete. We are going into a new region and so that in itself will be a first for us with an 18-game region schedule. As coaches, we are excited to see our young kids because we really didn’t get to see them last spring. I am looking forward to a challenging but fun spring.”
Commerce is ranked #7 in the Preseason state polls for Class 1A Public.
#5 WHITE COUNTY
HEAD COACH: Jim Waits
2020 RECORD: 6-5
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Connor McGuire, Riley Norton, Justin Ward
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: J Ben Haynes, Blake Kelley, Jake Johnson, Evan Chambers, Caleb Gee, Rylee Higgins
TEAM STRENGTH: “Leadership and speed,” says Waits.
OUTLOOK: “[We] will return 7 seniors and 3 juniors that played significant innings during the past two years,” says Waits. “Over the past two years, Blake Kelley has an overall record of 3-0 and will be an arm on the mound this year for the Warriors and when not on the mound he will spend some time at first base. The keystone combination for the Warriors will be senior J Ben Haynes at SS and Jake Johnson playing 2B. Both players will hit at the top of the lineup and spend time on the bump. Chambers, Gee, Higgins, Caleb Reddy, Dylan Sargent, and Kyler Mayo are guys that have seen playing time on the varsity at times over the past two years. Newcomers to the varsity this year are Riley Swain and Nate Bray. Both of these sophomores should see plenty of playing time and will be critical to the success of this team.”
#6 HABERSHAM CENTRAL
HEAD COACH: Chris Akridge
2020 RECORD: 7-7
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Christian King, Ryte Woodruff
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Logan Bogue, Logan Hare, Azzi Cervantes
TEAM STRENGTH: N/A
OUTLOOK: No outlook provided by Habersham Central for the 2021 season yet.
#7 TALLULAH FALLS
HEAD COACH: Justin Pollock
2020 RECORD: 4-4
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Davis Jennings, Zach Corwin
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Chathan Clouatre, Aubrey Higgins, Trent Thomas, Baylor Carnes
TEAM STRENGTH: “We have exceptional senior leadership with Chathan, Trent and Baylor,” says Pollock. “We are also pretty strong up the middle at catcher, pitcher, middle infield and center field.”
OUTLOOK: “Our coaching staff and players have worked extremely hard to prepare for the 2021 season,” says Pollock. “I’ve never been around a group that has improved as much as our team has from when we started. I think our fans will appreciate the energy that this group brings to the field every day. We are going to be aggressive in all aspects of the game and we are hopeful that will lead to a successful season on the diamond in 2021.”
#8 DAWSON COUNTY
HEAD COACH: Dwayne Sapp
2020 RECORD: 9-4
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Hudson Sapp, Bo Lewis, TJ Allen , Kristian Kelley
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Carter Turkett, Brandon Cramer, Nick Mullinax, Andrew Burt, Luke Mullberry, Kincade Weaver
TEAM STRENGTH: “Experience in the ones who have played,” says Sapp.
OUTLOOK: “We must remain healthy and avoid COVID issues,” says Sapp. “We don’t have a lot of varsity players, so for us to have a chance this year we must avoid missing players. Hopefully we get to have a season this year.”
#9 UNION COUNTY
HEAD COACH: Zach Odom
2020 RECORD: 4-8
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Carter Wright, John Mancuso, Alec Youngblood, Cayden Rich
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Damien Chitwood, Zeke Swartz, Isaak Mullinack
TEAM STRENGTH: “Majority of pitching staff is returning with Isaak Mullinack and Zeke Swartz,” says Odom.
OUTLOOK: “We have six seniors who will be leading us,” adds Odom. “With Isaak and Zeke on the bump, this team can go toe to toe with anyone in the region and I am excited to see the impact the junior class has as we get deeper into the season. We have a lot to replace in the lineup but I know the younger players are excited to step into their new roles.”
#10 RABUN COUNTY
HEAD COACH: Wes Satterfield
2020 RECORD: 1-8
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Jon Sego, Clint Green, Ian McRary
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Brady Wilson, Brody Jarrard, Linkin Wright, Grayson Carver
TEAM STRENGTH: “The strength of the team will be centered around our seniors and their leadership,” says Satterfield. “These three individuals have been in the program since they were 8th graders.”
OUTLOOK: “The guys are extremely excited for the season to get started,” says Satterfield. “They have put a lot of time and extra work in during the offseason. We are going to be young in some key spots. A lot of our success will be dependent on the quality of pitching that we get. We will need a few guys to step up and provide us with some innings that didn’t last year.”
#11 STEPHENS COUNTY
HEAD COACH: Greg McCall
2020 RECORD: 6-7
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Cole Snyder, Jordan Page, Isaiah Martin, Eli Wenger
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Carson Worley (4-2, 2.80 ERA), Cruz Mulinix, Seth Jameson, Ayden Garmon, Ian Rumsey
TEAM STRENGTH: “Our team strength will be determined as we gain game experience early on,” says McCall.
OUTLOOK: “No others than these 5 returning players saw real meaningful varsity playing time,” says McCall. “So we will be VERY YOUNG on playing experience from the pitching staff and position player standpoint. We simply need to gain a lot of playing experience at the varsity level preceding our region schedule. No multi-year starters return this year. The more experience our young pitching staff and 6 new position players can gain early on will determine our success as the year goes on. Will see a lot of new faces in the line up this year.
#12 LUMPKIN COUNTY
HEAD COACH: Jonathan Gastley
2020 RECORD: 6-8
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Logan Choflet, Dalton Caldwell, Harris Taylor, Tucker Kirk, Nick Turner
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Caleb Childs
TEAM STRENGTH: “We are full of youth, but very coachable and talented kids,” says Gastley.
OUTLOOK: “Very young with inexperience, but very high energy,” says Gastley.