By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
High school softball preview: Season in full swing beginning today
West Hall’s Victoria Tuttle hits balls off a tee in the batting cages during the Lady Spartans Thursday afternoon practice. - photo by Scott Rogers | The Times

2009 high school softball previews 

Lady Wolves

Coach: Tony Wolfe

Region: 6-AA

2008 record: 34-2-1

Key players: Melissa Dickie, Jr. (16-1, 0.52 ERA); Alysha Rudnik, Sr. (.485 avg., 32 RBIs, 33 runs); Karly Fullem, Jr. (16-1, 0.95 ERA); Samantha Ramey, Sr. (.336 avg., 21 RBIs, 17 runs).

Lady War Eagles

Coach: Niki Keith

Region: 7-AAA

2008 record: 4-26

Key players: Kaylynn Jarrard; Ashley Payne, Jr.; Nicole Long, Jr.; Stephanie Ward, Jr.; Megan Stowers, Jr.; Jessie Stone, Jr.

Lady Tigers

Coach: Pam Canup

Region: 8-A

2008 record: 10-14

Key players: Brooklyn Stinchcomb, Sr. (team’s top pitcher and a leading hitter); Brittany Beauchamp, Sr. (Led team in runs scored); Haiden Nunn, Jr. (strong fielder returning).

East Hall
Lady Vikings

Coach: Jenny Crow

Region: 7-AAA

2008 record: 7-21

Key players: P Kayla McDougal, Jr.; P Keri Jones, So.

Flowery Branch
Lady Falcons

Coach: Valerie Lancaster

Region: 7-AAA

2008 record: 15-18

Key players: C/SS Rachel Duden; P Roxie Dalton, Sr.; P Cally Orr; CF Allison Thornton, Sr.

Lady Red Elephants

Coach: Jeremy Kemp

Region: 7-AAA

2008 record: 9-18

Key players: Rebecca Lawrence, Sr. (.320 avg., 17 RBIs); Natalie Allen, So.; Andie Allen, Sr.

Habersham Central
Lady Raiders

Coach: Stepanie Thomas

Region: 8-AAAA

2008 record: 16-10-1

Key players: P Jordin Ellingson, So.; CF Lauren Cunningham, Sr.; 3B/P Lydia Gerrin, Jr.; 3B/C Kylee Martin, Sr.; C Charlotte Lewallen, Jr.

Jackson County
Lady Panthers

Coach: Lisa Robinson

Region: 8-AAA

2008 record: 6-27

Key players: Brooke Griggs, Jr. (.218 avg., 8 RBIs); Haley Shinall, So. (.337 avg., 18 Sbs, 265 IP, 136 Ks); Jessica Laird, Jr. (10 runs scored, 9 SBs); Ashleigh Lance, So. (.256 avg., 3 2Bs).

Lady Dragons

Coach: Brad Puckett

Region: 8-AA

2008 record: 18-17

Key players: Brittany Smith, Sr.; Kara Perry, Jr.; Kasey McDonald, Jr.

Lady Knights

Coach:Brian Fiddler

Region: 7-AAA

2008 record:0-21

Key players: 3B/P Katie Williams, Jr.; OF Paige Vaughn, Sr.; 1B Paige Reed, Jr.; 2B/OF Hannah Beverly, Jr;, 2B/P Sasha Edge, So.; C Melissa Turner, Jr.

Lumpkin County
Lady Indians

Coach: Lori Hall

Region: 7-AAA

2008 record: 21-16

Key players: CF Kelsie Smith, Sr. (.278 avg., .350 OBP); P Katie Copeland, Sr. (.280 avg., 1.937 ERA); SS Frankie Walls, Jr. (.300 avg., .328 OBP).

North Hall
Lady Trojans

Coach: Bruce King

Region: 7-AAA

2008 record: 13-11, 7-4 Region 7-AAA

Key players: P Megan Rogers, Sr. (182 K’s, 0.57 ERA); C Danielle Newbern (Jr.); SS Kelsey Gibbs (Sr.); OF Amber Youngblood (Sr.); P Courtney Gearin (So.); 2B Mallory Rich (Sr.).

Towns County
Lady Indians

Coach: Shannon Floyd

Region: 8-A

2008 record: 4-16

Key players: Heather Hamilton, Sr. (.292 avg., 12 SB); Haley Ledford, Sr. (.329); Clair Wilson, Fr.

Union County
Lady Panthers

Coach: Jessica Stewart

Region: 8-AA

2008 record: 21-11-1

Key players: Whitney Kelley, Jr. (.400 avg., 3 HRs, 29 RBIs); Tori Dyer, Jr. (.302 avg., 25 runs); Callie Dyer, So. (.323 avg., 2 HRs, 23 RBIs); Angie Hughes, So. (10-4, 1.07 ERA, 95 Ks).

West Hall
Lady Spartans

Coach: Warren Sellers

Region: 7-AAA

2008 record: 23-10

Key players: Bailey Soucie, Sr. (35 RBIs); Emily Hammond, Sr. (17-6, 1.50 ERA); Miranda Miller, So. (.285 avg.); Madison Strickland, Jr.; Morgan Strickland, So.

White County
Lady Warriors

Coach: John Brown

Region: 7-AAA

2008 record: 26-9

Key players: Stephanie Satterfield, Jr. (.451 avg., 22-7, 175 Ks, 0.94 ERA); Morgan Jacobson, So. (.423, 3 HRs); Callie McDonald, So. (.333, 2-2); Lindsay Messmore, Sr. (.304); Aubrie Gstalder, So. (.318 avg).

Youth may be served on the softball diamonds this year, but two teams are combating that inexperience the only way possible: with strong pitching.

Entering today’s Lanier Point Invitational, two of Region 7-AAA’s top teams from a year ago (West Hall and White County), are preparing to take some lumps as they ease new players into new positions.

"This is going to be the youngest team we ever fielded," West Hall coach Warren Sellers said. "We got some young girls that are going to step up and help us out."

White County is in the same situation.

"We got some good girls coming back," Lady Warriors coach John Brown said. "But we’re still young."

The only way to increase the experience of the young players is through more playing time, which is a prime reason why teams like White County, West Hall, Gainesville and Chestatee have decided to participate in the Lanier Point Invitational.

"We’re going to try to win every game we play, but we still have some question marks defensively," Sellers said. "This is gonna be a good test because there’s nothing like evaluating someone in a game situation versus practice."

One position that Sellers nor Brown will need to worry about is pitcher. Both teams return their No. 1 starters from last year in Emily Hammond from West Hall and Stephanie Satterfield from White County.

Hammond went 17-6 last year for the Lady Spartans and Sellers is happy to have his ace back for her senior season.

"It’s nice to have her back," he said. "Pitching will be a strong point for us."

And it will be in Cleveland too, as Brown welcomes back his ace Satterfield, who went 22-7 last year with 175 strikeouts and a 0.94 ERA.

"It’s nice to have a good pitcher that’s for sure," Brown said. "Stephanie always keeps us in the game. She throws strikes, and she hits the ball pretty well too."

He’s right about that, as Satterfield led the team with a .451 batting average in 2008.

Both White County and West Hall will need solid pitching in order to stay with defending region champion Creekview.

"I think they’re going to be the team to beat again," said Brown, whose team lost to Creekview in the region title game last year. "I know they lost a few key people, but they got a large school body to pick from so I’m sure they replaced those girls with quality people."

Brown also believes that the region will be much more competitive this year, and pointed to teams like West Forsyth, Chestatee and Flowery Branch as possible surprises this season.

Sellers isn’t too sure about Creekview’s team this year, and although he predicted the Lady Grizzlies to win the region last year, he’s not ready to crown them as champions again.

"I think it is going to be wide open this year," he said. "I think there’s several teams that could grab one of the four playoff spots and that’s what we’re hoping to do."

That mission, along with the missions of 15 other softball teams begins today.

Regional events