Derrick Mahone/Douglas County Sentinel Junior Kelly Overton is one of the leaders for the Lithia Springs team that will challenge for a state playoff spot for a third straight season.

Alexander Cougars

Coach: Zack Graham

Last season: 20-10, lost to Dalton in first round of playoffs

Players to watch: SS Georgia Blair, 3B Taylor Middlebrook, P Brooke Strickland, OF Lexi Chitwood.

Overview: The Cougars are the two-time defending Region 5-AAAAAA champions and have reached the state playoffs the last nine seasons. Graham will have some holes to fill in the lineup because of graduation but the Cougars have a strong feeder system. Senior Brooke Strickland will again handle the majority of the pitching with sophomore Braylee Mimbs getting some action. After losing in the first round of the playoffs at home against Dalton, the Cougars come into the season more determined than ever to get back to Columbus and challenge for a state title. Blair will likely be the offensive leader and is seven home runs from becoming the program’s all-time leader. The addition of Taylor Middlebrook will help solidify the infielder.

Chapel Hill Panthers

Coach: Adam Graham

Last season: 21-11, lost to Stephens County in second round of playoffs

Players to watch: P Kira Morgan, C Paige Vincent, 3B Isis Taylor, OF Ivory Jones, SS Rylie Moody, OF Derica Price.

Overview: It is a changing of the guard for the Panthers program as Graham takes over the highly successful program. He has taught at the school the last few years and has been chosen to replace Mickey Harper, the only coach the program has know since the school opened in 1999. There is plenty of talent for Graham as the team comes almost back intact. Morgan will get most of the time in the circle. Taylor is back at her natural position at third base. Jones, Vincent and Taylor will be counted on to provide the firepower from the play. Price will give the Panthers some speed on the bases as Moody looks to follow on a success freshmen season. There is some high expectations for freshman infielder Nadia Barby. This is the last senior class that were members of the 2015 state championship team.

Douglas County Tigers

Coach: Krista McKenney

Last season: 4-17, lost to Allatoona in first round of playoffs

Overview: McKenney moves over from Mason Creek Middle where she was an assistant to take over the Tigers program. Douglas County has finished as the fourth seed the last two seasons in Region 5-AAAAAA and advanced to the first round of the playoffs.

Lithia Springs Lions

Coach: Chris Sheperd

Last season: 19-11-1, lost to Chamblee in first round of playoffs

Players to watch: 3B/C Anayah Baker, OF Haley Overton, P/1B Regan Hutto, P/SS Lauryn Kinkle, OF Sierra Lopez

Overview: The Lions have reached the postseason the last two years with a young team as Sheperd has been building the program. Baker, the Region 6-AAAAAA Player of the Year from last season is back. With Hutto and Kinkle back in the circle, it gives the last two experienced pitchers. With playoff experience under its belt, the Lions will now try to finish in the top half of the region and make some noise in the postseason. As a team last season, the Lions hit .417 with 13 home runs.

New Manchester Jaguars

Coach: Charles Walker

Last season: 3-7

Overview: Walker takes over the Jaguars program and has some work to do. Walker has been at the school since it opened in 2011, and served as the first baseball coach in the program. The team finished fifth in the region, which was one spot from making the region playoffs. Monday was only the second day that the team has been on the field because of inclement weather.

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