Preseason Softball Rankings

Photo By Jennifer Stravo

Pope rode the magical arm of senior Kelly Barnhill last season to the program’s first ever softball state championship in Class AAAAAA. Barnhill was named Gatorade Player of the Year and also Class AAAAAA Pitcher of the Year en route to her shattering the single-season state record with 534 strikeouts in 226 innings pitched. She finished the season 29-5 with an 0.59 ERA in her final season before joining the Florida Gators. Another key loss is rising sophomore Caelyn Dougherty, a catcher who hit .400 last year. Even with the departures, Pope will remain the team to beat, but will have to rely on their offense since graduating their entire pitching staff. Shortstop Quentin Staton, centerfielder Lindsey Monkiewicz and first baseman Kyra Williamson will be key cogs in the Greyhound lineup. Maddie Dobkin will try to supply offense from the backstop position while Hannah Rogers and a combination of freshmen attempt to soften the blow left from Barnhill’s graduation.

Hot on the Greyhounds’ tails for the state title will be Region 5 foe Lassiter. The Trojans split with Pope last season 2-2, but suffered one of their losses in the state playoffs. Sydney Carter, Devin Wagner and Katie Carlson power the dangerous Lassiter ball club. Brookwood will go as far as ace Amanda Ablan carries them. She finished 27-3-1 with an ERA of 0.77 and punched out 357 batters in 199 innings. The Georgia-commit already has been named Pitcher of the Year back in 2013 when she went 21-6 with a 1.24 ERA.

The team to beat in the top classification may be North Gwinnett, who returns all nine starters including their top two pitchers. The key will be the Bulldogs getting off to a good start behind hurler Rachel Smith, who recently committed to play in college at Georgia College and State University.

In Class AAAAA, Greenbrier claimed their second state title after edging Cambridge. The Wolfpack have lost a lot to graduation including outfielder Maddie Hunt, designated hitter Monica Mullis and pitcher Kirsten Titus, but the Class AAAAA Player of the Year returns in shortstop Kirsten McMonigle. A slew of All-Region performers also return in catcher Hannah Williamson, outfielder Jordie Holt and utility specialist Brianna Butler.

Cambridge returns Lily Valeo, a dynamic senior along with Taylor Hauber and Emily Fedrigon. Young talent Taylor Greene enters her sophomore season after a great freshman campaign and has plenty of potential to carry Cambridge along its winning ways. Gone however is Lauren Stewart, a former All-State outfielder.

Buford didn’t bat an eye as they cruised to their eighth-straight state championship and first in Class AAAA. Baylee Sexton, a Georgia State-commit, will anchor third base for her senior season. Sexton hit .475 and stole 27 bases while scoring 43 runs. It will be her fourth year as a starter and she boasts a .423 career average. Aislynn Kimbro, Lauren Jones, Drew Puckett and the rest of a deep senior class make Buford the odds on favorite to grab a ninth-straight title. Marist finished 26-7 in 2014 and could be a contender to challenge the Wolves behind slugging first baseman Mattie Ryan. She hit .400 as a freshman and helped the War Eagles to a Region 6 crown.

Calhoun made the jump from Class AA to AAA and brought home its second-straight championship. Taylor Kelly mashed her way to a .500 average and 13 homeruns her senior season and now plays for Mississippi State. Senior Emily Mitchell returns as the Yellow Jackets’ top power hitter after hitting nine long balls last season. Third baseman Jana Johns is the table setter. She comes off a sophomore season in which she hit .440 with 45 RBIs and 16 doubles. Second baseman Emily Weatherman didn’t hit any homeruns her junior season but she still led the Jackets by a wide margin in extra base hits with 27 doubles and four triples. Juniors Ashlyn Barnes and Ryan Brzozoski give coach Diane Smith all the speed she needs as the two combined for 49 steals in 51 attempts in 2014. Kinsey Liscio teams up with Mitchell as Calhoun’s top pitching tandem.

Heard County took home the Class AA championship last season. Matt Hornsby was named Coach of the Year for the state of Georgia while Cali Harrod received Player of the Year honors. The infielder now is at Florida State and leaves opportunities for current Braves to step up in her absence. Coach Hornsby returns a host of experience including five rising seniors who nabbed All-State honors. Catcher Anna Shelnutt, pitcher Jordan Watson and outfielder Johanna Beyer gained First-Team All-State while outfielders Alexis Raines and Madison Whitehead were selected to the Second-Team.

In Class A-Private, Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy won its second-straight title and sixth overall. The Chargers dominated Region 5, outscoring opponents 120-14. It took three playoff games before they finally knocked off Prince Avenue Christian. The Chargers won 8-7 in eight innings and lost 12-8 before being crowned state champs with a 14-7 victory in the final game of the season. Public-A saw Georgia Military snap a four-year Gordon Lee reign. Kaylie Harding was the driving force for the Bulldogs, hitting .486 with 35 RBIs her junior season. Dixie Raley has graduated after a 13-2, 1.45 ERA on the mound.



1. Pope
2. Lassiter
3. Archer
4. North Gwinnett
5. Brookwood
6. Hillgrove
7. Mill Creek
8. South Forsyth
9. Lambert
10. Collins Hill


1. Greenbrier
2. Cambridge
3. Chapel Hill
4. South Effingham
5. Harris County
6. Northgate
7. Creekview
8. Ola
9. Effingham County
10. Union Grove


1. Buford
2. Marist
3. Walnut Grove
4. Thomas County Central
5. Whitewater
6. Madison County
7. Carrollton
8. Wayne County
9. Heritage, Catoosa
10. Worth County


1. Calhoun
2. Central, Carroll
3. Ringgold
4. Blessed Trinity
5. Pierce County
6. Decatur
7. Dodge County
8. Rockmart
9. Morgan County
10. Dawson County


1. Heard County
2. Gordon Lee
3. Berrien
4. Bremen
5. Wesleyan
6. Union County
7. Bacon County
8. Seminole County
9. Bleckley County
10. Armuchee


2. Prince Avenue Christian
3. Brookstone
4. First Presbyterian Day
5. Athens Christian
6. Stratford Academy
7. Calvary Day
8. Mount Vernon Presbyterian
9. Tattnall Square Academy
10. Strong Rock Christian


1. Georgia Military
2. Wilcox County
3. Johnson County
4. Schley County
5. Treutlen
6. Trion
7. Telfair County
8. Echols County
9. Mount Zion
10. Charlton County

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