Coach: Patrick Malone
Area: Class 7A, Area 8 with Bob Jones, Florence and James Clemens
Preview: Malone will lean on six returning starters in his first year as Austin’s head coach.
Sophomores Katie Bracken and Kinley Hilleary will anchor the Black Bears’ pitching staff, while Hillaery, Peyton Perkins, a UAH signee, and sophomore catcher Lexey Carver will hit in the middle of the lineup.
Lawren Hayes (SS) and Sydney Self (CF) also return to give the Black Bears depth and experience in a tough area.
Coach: Rod Lovett
Area: Class 6A, Area 14 with Hartselle and Cullman
Preview: Lovett has two returning seniors in his first year as head coach. They are Olivia Wilborn and Neelie Miller. Wilborn was an All-State and All-Area selection last season after hitting .465. Junior Aaliyah Hullett returns after hitting .412 and stealing 18 bases.
Lovett expects a big contribution from a sophomore class.
Coach: Christy Ferguson
Area: Class 6A, Area 14 with Cullman and Decatur
Preview: The Tigers lost eight seniors from a 2019 squad that won 31 games before falling to Spanish Fort in eight innings in the quarterfinals of the state tournament.
Lillyanna Cartee returns after playing in all 45 of Hartselle’s games last season, when she hit .415 with three home runs, 14 doubles and 28 RBIs. Jada Henderson will move to catcher this season after playing in the outfield in 2019. In 41 games last season Henderson hit .281 with four homers.
Caroline Hill hit .346 last year and returns to the outfield, while Jenna Smith returns after posting a 14-5 record with 96 strikeouts.
Hill (Calhoun) and Chaney Dutton (Martin Methodist) have each signed to play in college.
Coach: Shana Bryson
Area: Class 5A, Area 14 with Arab, Guntersville and West Point
Preview: The Patriots have made an impressive turnaround in Bryon’s two seasons as head coach and will look to continue building in 2020.
After winning four games in Bryson’s first season, Brewer went 21-15-1 in 2019 and advanced to the second round of regional play. Bryson is optimistic about Brewer’s chances to finish atop the area standings in 2020.
Brewer’s roster is loaded with experienced upperclassmen, including the outfield trio of Caitlin Bryson, Hannah Buchanan and Amanda Knighten. The group is dynamic and features a pair of college signees in Buchanan (Columbia State) and Bryson (Calhoun).
Abbey Watkins, Kelsi Lemmond and Dallas Linderman will work in the infield, while Bronwyn Borden and Annaliese Kruger will see throw most innings in the circle. Sophomore Marlee Jones in a versatile athlete with a big bat.
Coach: Lori Bailey
Area: Class 4A, Area 13 with Madison Academy, Priceville and St. John Paul II
Preview: The Hawks are a senior-heavy squad led by UNA signee Emma Broadfoot. Lillie Dobbins, Hannah Heath, Savanna Pelfrey, Laney Coker and Madlyn Holladay are also seniors who will be counted on to produce in a tough area that Madison Academy won in 2019.
Bailey likes the group’s leadership abilities and believes it will lead to success on and off the field.
Coach: Matthew Morris
Area: Class 4A, Area 13 with Danville, Madison Academy and St. John Paul II
Preview: Morris’ squad features the talent to be competitive in a tough area, and the third-year coach will be looking to build depth as the season progresses.
The Bulldogs finished the 2019 season with a 17-12 record, losing in the area tournament.
Senior infielder Taylor Dean returns after hitting .333 with three homers and 19 RBIs. Juniors Reagan Walter (.494 average, seven homers, 44 RBIs), Abigail Garrison (.398 average, three homers, 16 RBIs), Steffani Schrader (.381 average, 5-0 record, 2.77 ERA) and Hannah Smyth (.349 average, two home runs, 19 RBIs) have all received interest from colleges.
Freshman infielder Bentley Black hit .425 in 2019, with four homers and 31 RBIs.
Coach: Victoria Burleson
Area: Class 4A, Area 15 with Brooks, Elkmont and West Limestone
Preview: Burleson inherits a Rebels squad that went 13-24 in 2019 and advanced to the regional tournament.
Coach: Scottie Hubbard
Area: Class 1A, Area 12 with Falkville, Lindsay Lane and Meek
Preview: The Eagles will field one of the youngest teams in the area, with just one senior and one junior.
Senior Abby Terry will fill the leadoff spot after hitting .322 in 2019. Catcher Emily Hubbard will be charged with handling a young pitching staff, with sophomore Brooklyn Palmer, freshman Lenox Scott and seventh-grader Brianna Tyson expected to eat a lot of innings for the Eagles.
Coach: Meaghan Gray
Area: Class 1A, Area 12 with Decatur Heritage, Lindsay Lane and Meek
Preview: The Blue Devils are poised to build on a strong 2019 season that saw Gray’s squad finish 25-12 while advancing to the regional tournament.
Sydnee Fitzgerald (P/IF) and Makenzie Veal (1B) return after being key pieces of the 2019 squad. Fitzgerald, a two-way standout, hit .436 last season and recorded 137 strikeouts in the circle while compiling a 2.70 ERA.
Veal hit .406 with four home runs. Both players will be key in a tough area that features multiple talented teams.
Coach: Denton Bowling
Area: Class 2A, Area 14 with Addison, Tanner and Winston County
Preview: The Hornets are in good shape to make another run at a state championship after finishing runner-up to G.W. Long in the Class 2A championship game in 2019.
Hatton lost three key pieces from last season’s 44-win squad, but four-time all-state selection and 2019 2A Pitcher of the Year Ashley Berryman returns, along with Laney Jeffreys (IF), Mallory Lane (IF) and Bradyn Mitchell (P/OF) to give the Hornets experience that can be big in a competitive Class 2A, Area 14.
Lane, a junior, and Mitchell, a freshman, joined Berryman, now a senior, in earning all-state honors last season. Berryman is one of the most productive players the area has seen in years and was the MVP of the 2017 state tournament. She has 88 career wins in the circle with a 1.91 ERA, and a .365 career batting average with 194 hits, 167 RBIs, 25 homers and 34 doubles.
Jeffreys, a career .289 hitter, will see time at third base, while Lane (.330 career average, 181 hits, 130 RBIs) makes the move from second base to shortstop. Mitchell will also be counted on to step up, with Bowling saying she has one of the highest ceilings of any athlete (boy or girl) that he’s ever coached.
Berryman (Wallace State-Hanceville) and Jeffreys (Calhoun) have both signed to play at the next level.
Coach: Don Smith
Area: Class 3A, Area 14 with Colbert Heights and Phil Campbell
Preview: The Eagles return almost every player from a 2019 team that went 12-20 and advanced to the regional tournament.
Briley Pitt, a Northwest Mississippi Community College signee, was a two-way standout for East Lawrence last season, striking out 232 hitters in the circle while hitting 15 home runs. Camryn Langley (C), Tori Crow (SS) and Devora Izquierdo (3B) will also be key players for the Eagles.
Coach: Stephen Baugh
Area: Class 5A, Area 16 with East Limestone, Madison County and Scottsboro
Preview: Ardmore won 35 games last season, advancing to the Class 5A state tournament where the Tigers were eventually eliminated by Mortimer Jordan.
The Tigers have 16 seniors and juniors that give the program a wealth of experience.
Sydney Hall (Calhoun), Madison Lewis (Calhoun), L.B. Smith (College of Central Florida) and Raegan Clem (UNA) have each committed to playing at the next level.
Coach: Thad Prater
Area: Class 6A, Area 15 with Columbia and Muscle Shoals
Preview: Prater’s team won 27 games and advanced to the third round of regional play in 2019.
Skylar Anderson (Sr.), Brenin Ezell (So.) and Deann Motquin (Fr.) will carry the bulk of the load in the circle, while the infield will be anchored by sophomore catcher Anna Carder. Snead State signee Alli Patterson (1B), Emma Ogden (SS) and Morgan Stiles (2B) will round out the infield, while Jordyn Johnson (So.) and several others will compete for everyday positions in the outfield, where Athens must replace Mary Greg Anderson who is playing at Alabama.
Coach: Brett Nave
Area: Class 5A, Area 16 with Ardmore, Madison County and Scottsboro
Preview: Nave has a chance to surpass the 500-career win mark this season, as the veteran coach enters his 20th season at East Limestone with a career record of 490-303-8.
Six starters, including four seniors, return from a 2019 team that went 26-11, led by pitcher Olivia Crouch, a Calhoun signee who led the teams in win last season.
Junior Mallory Jo Mitchell led the Indians in hits, while Kaci Sharp (Jr.) led the team in batting average and stolen bases. Junior Rylie Grisham also returns after leading the team in home runs.
Coach: Molly Fenn
Area: Class 4A, Area 15 with Brooks, Elkmont and West Morgan
Preview: Fenn enters her first season at West Limestone after a successful run with Class 1A Waterloo.
Senior Hanna Wilburn (2B) and juniors Chloe Hopkins (P/OF), Tori Carroll (OF/1B) and Shelia Johnson (P) are some the key pieces returning from last year’s team.
Coach: Whitney Moran
Area: Class 2A, Area 14 with Addison, Hatton and Winston County
Preview: Moran enters her fifth season as head coach looking to fill a void in the circle created by the graduation of one of her 2019 arms and the loss of another to shoulder surgery in the fall.
Senior Jayla Walton (3B/P) returns after hitting .450 with one homer, three triples and six doubles last season. Junior shortstop Paisley Thatch hit .404 with a homer, three triples and three doubles in 23 games last season and junior Taryn Hall (P/OF/1B) hit .396 with three doubles and three triples.
Senior Raegan Moran (2B/P), sophomore Mykenzie Townsend (OF) and eighth grader Nora Moore (OF/C) will be contributors in 2020.
Coach: Wendy Gordon
Area: Class 3A, Area 16 with Lauderdale County, Lexington and Westminster Christian
Preview: The Colts are looking to improve on a 10-11 2019 season and return five starters that will provide depth and experience.
Anslee Gordon is the team’s lone senior and will fill a utility role with time split between catcher and third base. Sophomore outfielder Jenny Trent is also expected to be a key contributor.