Diamond Preview 2021: Banks County
A program just two years removed from a state championship has always had the privilege of having seniors to lead the way. That is no longer the case. Still, the upside for this young group is very high, and the pieces are there to make a fifth consecutive Elite 8 or deeper run.
Head Coach: Kelby Cronic, 3rd Season
2020 Record: 17-15; Elite 8; Region 8-AA Champions; #1 State Ranking
“We are the two-time defending Region Champions so that is our first goal — to win the region and secure a top seed going into the playoffs, and get to Columbus,” says coach Kelby Cronic. “With last year’s GHSA 3rd Round playoff changes, the girls didn’t get that chance and I think if it had been like it has always been, then we could have been a Final 4 team. We have the team and talent to do it this season.”
Key Departures: Madi Cronic
Key Returning Players: Jacy Ayers, Kylee Brooks, Lindsey Crawford, Jodie Hood, Alexus Humphries, Shelby Speed, Marysa Rylee, Carley Segars
Losing one of the top players in school history in Madi Cronic is not easy to stand, but she was one of just two players that leave, which means the experience, despite not having any seniors, is there for this team. They know what it takes to win, and players like Jacy Ayers and Kylee Brooks contributed to the state championship team in 2019 as freshmen, so they will be relied upon to carry this team.
Strengths & Areas of Focus
Strengths: “Our biggest strength is that we are returning almost our entire team,” says Cronic. “Last season we only had two seniors and no juniors. We were sophomore-heavy. So we are bringing back a team that has several girls with two years of playoff experience which is huge. We returned our whole pitching staff which was big for us down the stretch pitching in big time games, and they really matured and were a huge part of our success. We also have some new freshmen faces that I believe will be able to step in and make some plays for us this season…Fight! Last season these girls learned to fight. Regardless of the score, I believe we are going to give every team we face a game. Win or lose, teams will know who they played.”
Focusing On: “Leadership,” exclaims Cronic. “This is the first time in program history that there have been no seniors. So someone has got to step up. So it’s going to be tough finding someone that will rally the girls together.”