Once again, there should be no shortage of softball talent in Cherokee County.
Five of the six county schools advanced to the softball state playoffs in 2019 with four teams hosting a first-round playoff series. Three teams advanced to Columbus for the state tournament with Etowah having the best finish as the third-place team in Class AAAAAAA.
Two teams won their region last season (Cherokee and Creekview) and Cherokee County teams should once again be among the favorites in the newly aligned regions.
Etowah will likely be the favorite in Region 5AAAAAAA and one of the better teams in the state with four first-team All-County players returning. Kinsey Norton (Georgia Tech commit) returns for her senior season as the staff ace while junior Brionna Condon (South Carolina commit) should anchor the infield at third base and the lineup in the third spot in the order. Both were second-team GACA All-State selections in 2019 and should be among the best players in the state.
Victoria Carter was named county Coach of the Year in 2019 and returns to lead Etowah from the dugout.
“We’ve got a good core group coming back,” Carter said. “With everything that’s happened they saw how quickly spring sports were lost and I don’t think they’re going to take anything for granted.”
Seniors Abby Billings and Alaina Smith (N.C. State commit) should also be key pieces for Etowah.. Billings has multiple college offers while Emma Yannes (Georgia State commit) and Bella Adams (Reinhardt offer) should help round out an impressive lineup.
Etowah will need to replace its All-State catcher Paige Patterson (Ole Miss) but Carter sounded confident in the leadership of her upperclassmen.
“I think they’re all really excited to be back out here,” Carter said. “We’ve got some younger catchers and Kinsey (Norton) is doing a great job of working with them and getting them ready.”
Jennifer Maloney enjoyed an impressive first season as coach at Creekview, helping lead the Lady Grizzlies to a region championship and to an appearance in Columbus. Despite having to replace Emily Wilkie, who graduated as one of the best players in program history before moving on to the University of Florida, Maloney should feel good about bringing back arguably the best hitter and pitcher in the county.
Ari Wright (Virginia Tech commit) earned County Player of the Year last season as a junior in a season where she led the county in home runs (14), RBIs (48), runs scored (44) and a 1.590 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage). Wright should be one of the most feared hitters in the state.
Anslie Pettit dazzled as a freshman last year, finishing with a 21-3 record and 1.56 earned run average. Both led the county and her 7.9 strikeout-to-walk ratio (166 strikeouts and 21 walks) also led the county and was better than the next two best pitchers combined. Pettit earned county Pitcher of the Year and should continue to lead Creekview as the favorite to win the newly aligned Region 7-6A which now includes Cambridge, Centennial, Chattahoochee and Johns Creek. Ella Campbell and Sammi Martin should be key pieces for Creekview as well.
River Ridge fell to Creekview in the Region 6AAAAAA championship last season and followed that with an impressive run in the state playoffs which ended in Columbus. The Lady Knights return Sydney Osada (Georgia commit) who was an All-County selection a season ago and should be one of the best pitchers in the state. Lily Bell was an All-County selection as a freshman a season ago and should be a mainstay at the top of the lineup for years to come. River Ridge will likely remain near the top of the standings in region play.
Cherokee fell one round short of an appearance in Columbus last year and will need to replace last year’s impressive senior class which included five All-County selections. The Lady Warriors do return their two best pitchers, however, with Emma Worley and Parker Modica set to anchor the pitching staff. Sophomore Celan Trowers was an honorable mention All-County selection in the outfield as a freshman and could be on track for a breakout season.
Sequoyah finished 2019 with a record of 19-10-1 and returns three second-team All-County selections in Lauren Anderson, Sarah Squillace and Katie Vansword. Squillace is a Samford commit and should be one of the better hitters in the county.
Woodstock finished 2019 with a record of 8-15 and will need to replace Nikki Rogers who was the team’s senior leader last season and an All-County selection. Mak Levine and Kacie Wiggins should be key contributors for the Lady Wolverines this season.