REGION8-AAAAA

Berkmar

•Head coach: Justin Bishop

•2006 record: 8-15

•Returning starters: OF Cory Pitts, 3B/1B Kyle Cyprysiak, SS/OF Kareem Hayes, P/OF Adam Webster

•Other key players/newcomers: Adam Bates, Jake Hendricks, Jarrett Rivera, Jeff Bush, Mark Miller, Cody Jett, Jake King

•Outlook: After three seasons at Lithonia, Bishop takes over a Patriot team that struggled in 2006. Pitts is probably Berkmar's most talented player and he is joined by a solid group of veterans. But Bishop admits the team is going to be inexperienced. "The program graduated 11 seniors from last year's team, so I will be rebuilding. The core is solid, so our season goal will be to push for a playoff spot in our region." Bishop said he expected big things out of Cyprysiak as well in 2007.

Brookwood

•Head coach: Rick Howard

•2006 record: 18-11

•Returning starters: P Elliott Coor, P/INF Chase Hawkins, C/INF Troy Snitker, C Seth Adkins, P/INF Grayson Flack, P/INF Jordan Erisman, INF Ross Heffley, OF Ryan Lewis

•Outlook: The Broncos should be really good this year. With the return of Coor (5-1, 2.56 ERA) and Hawkins, Brookwood might have the best 1-2 starting combination in the region. They also return six other starters from a team that gave Chattahoochee all it wanted in the first round of last year's state playoffs. "We are very fortunate to have a number of returning starters," Howard said. "By the end of last year's season, we had nine sophomores who had playing time ... I think our non-region schedule is going to help develop a competitive core of players and give us a chance to see what level we can play on."

Central Gwinnett

•Head coach: Chris Hays

•2006 record: 4-22

•Returning starters: P/OF Chase Sturm, P Cory McCart, C Joseph Parillo, IF Justin Garmon, SS Jeffrey Shields, IF Corey Willig, OF Tyler Hampton, P Nick Plaisted, 1B Brett Davis, OF Julian Pisczak, P Manuel Rodriguez

•Other key players/newcomers: P/IF Jake Spear, 2B Boog Powell

•Outlook: With 11 total starters returning from last season, Hays' club has plenty of experience coming back in 2007. And his players, which include nine seniors, hope that the veteran leadership translates into finally getting to experience the playoffs as well. "After 4-22 they're eager to turn the program around," Hays said. "They're eager to compete and try to slide into the playoffs ... the focus of this team so far is to get into the playoffs, and they're working hard."

Grayson

•Head coach: Seth Rhine

•2006 record: 18-11

•Returning starters: OF Chandler Smith, P Marc Nellist

•Outlook: The Rams lost virtually their entire lineup from last season's state playoff team, which fell to Region 7-AAAAA champ Collins Hill in the first round a year ago. But Grayson does return a solid group of veteran pitchers, led by Marc Nellist, who finished last season with a 8-3 mark and a 3.24 ERA. "We will be inexperienced in the field," Rhine said, "but return most of our pitchers. If our pitchers give us a chance to get better early in the season, hopefully we can make some things happen in our region."

Meadowcreek

•Head coach: Chris Reeves

•2006 record: 4-22

•Returning starters: C Chad Miller, SS Miguel Cabrera, P/1B Josh Lee

•Other key players/newcomers: OF Omar Razzaq, SS/2B Javy Cabral

•Outlook: This Meadowcreek team is quite young, which isn't exactly promising news considering the region the Mustangs play in. But there is some talent in the field, most notably the Dominican Republic connection in the infield of Cabral and Cabrera. "We're definitely going to be young," said Reeves, who is in his second year as head coach. "The first couple of weeks of the season is going to be a good test for our kids ... It's pretty much going to be a trial by fire."

Parkview

•Head coach: Chan Brown

•2006 record: 23-7

•Returning starters: OF Zack Kilday, 1B Theo Asher, SS Curtis Keegan, P Blake Pockrandt

•Other key players/newcomers: OF/P Zach Cone, C Tom Richardson, P Zach Chastain, 3B Beau Esmonde, 2B Nathan Huston, OF Kenny Bellevance, OF Austin Palmer, OF Scott Sears, OF Brandon Jacobs

•Outlook: Parkview lost a ton of experience from last year's region championship team, but Brown thinks some of his newcomers, especially Cone - who has already committed to UGA as a junior - could help ease the graduation hit his program took. Then again, losing nine starters is always tough. Even at a perennial power like Parkview, which has won six region championships in a row. "I think this is a rebuilding year," Brown said. "I think that we will have to have pitching come around quick for us to be successful early ... (we are) very young and inexperienced, but it's a great group that works hard and we have a lot of fun."

Shiloh

•Head coach: Matt Champitto

•2006 record: 11-14

•Returning starters: 1B Sam Kauffman, 2B Mikey Mixon, SS/P Cody Simpson, 3B/P Drew Freeman, LF Matt Johnson, OF Eddie Mathis, P Chris Haggard, C Vince Wood

•Outlook: The Generals should challenge for a playoff spot out of Region 8-AAAAA this year. Shiloh returns eight players who started at one time or another in the 2006 season and that experience should pay dividends for Champitto's club in 2007. With Haggard, Freeman and Simpson leading the way, Shiloh returns five pitchers who got varsity experience last year. "We are a very senior-led team and I expect for that experience and leadership to help lead us to the playoffs," Champitto said. "Our strength will be on the mound."

South Gwinnett

•Head coach: Steve Teschner

•2006 record: 20-10

•Returning starters: LF David Johanningmeier, CF Lance Whatley, 2B Zac Bui, C Brett Teschner, SP Steven Currie, SP Richy Johnson

•Outlook: Coming off a No. 2 finish in the region, the Comets bring back a solid core from last year's team. Currie and Johnson give South plenty of experience on the mound and Brett Teschner proved to be one of the best catchers in the region last year as a freshman. Head coach Steve Teschner says the final starting spot on the mound will be between Sean Handlan and Nick Blount. He also added: "With only a catcher and a second baseman returning as starters in the infield, the defensive infield play will be a key to (our) success in 2007."

REGION7-AAAAA

Collins Hill

•Head coach: Paul Pierce

•2006 record: 27-8

•Returning starters: SS/P Justice French, DH/2B Stephen Hanley, 3B Jason Slade, OF/P Daniel Warzon, C Michael Young

•Outlook: The defending Region 7-AAAAA champs lost a great pitcher in UGA signee Justin Earls, but they return two of the top players in the county in French (5-1, 3.16 ERA; .311 avg., 2 HR, 22 RBIs) and Warzon (2-2, 2.06 ERA; .396 avg., 8 HR, 31 RBIs). Hanley, Slade and Young help give the Eagles a solid core of veterans, who should make life a little easier for Pierce until his inexperienced players get their feet wet in varsity action. "We are excited about the opportunities and look forward to the challenges of the 2007 season," Pierce said.

Duluth

•Head coach: Bobby Link

•2006 record: 14-10

•Returning starters: Eric Tineo, Anthony Amato

•Outlook: Duluth lost one of the top pitchers in the county in Jesse Richeson to graduation, but Link hopes that Tineo and Amata can help full the void and perhaps give Duluth a chance at the postseason. "I have a few position players coming back," Link said, "but this looks to be a rebuilding year, with many juniors having to step it up." The Wildcats are hoping to improve on last year's 14-10 record in a region that is always tough.

Mill Creek

•Head coach: Doug Jones

•2006 record: 21-7

•Returning starters: SS Jeff Bennett, 3B/P Denver Stovall, 2B Danny Luttrell, OF Kirklan Moore, C Jeremy Bolian

•Outlook: Last year was a breakthrough season for the Hawks, who went 21-7 and earned the first state tournament berth in the short history of the school. Mill Creek returns five starters from last year and all five are seniors. Trying to build on the success of 2006, Jones put together a formidable out-of-region schedule for his team. "We have challenged them with the toughest schedule in our school's short history, with road dates to Lowndes, Camden (County), Parkview, Brookwood, Marist and Lassiter," Jones said. "It will be very interesting to see how the kids respond early, because everyone knows the region will be knock-down, drag-out brawls."

Norcross

•Head coach: Andy Collins

•2006 record: 15-11

•Returning starters: P Steven Hunt, P Jacob Matthews, SS Darius Hanks, 2B Kurtis Robinson, OF Leonard Foster

•Other key players/newcomers: Matt Kinney, Tyler Maloof, Vinny Hood, Forrest Garrett, Tyler Roach, Jason Huyge

•Outlook: There are some question marks coming into the season for the Blue Devils, but there are also plenty of known commodities as well. With three-year starter Hanks, an Alabama football signee, manning the shortstop position the Blue Devils have one of the best middle infielders in the county. They will have to get key contributions from some inexperienced underclassmen and solid pitching from the group of Hunt, Matthews, Garrett and Roach to have a chance at the playoffs. "I think we have a solid team with a lot of returners," Collins said.

North Gwinnett

•Head coach: Frank Vashaw

•2006 record: 20-8

•Returning starters: C Mitch Rider, IF Justin Rahm, 3B Travis Echols, OF Jim Moreland, P Lars Mitchell, P Jonathan Spitler

•Outlook: After last year's 20-8 record and berth in the Class AAAAA state playoffs, second-year head coach Frank Vashaw certainly appears to have the Bulldogs heading in the right direction. North lost some key components off last year's team, most notably first baseman Ty Goodbar, pitcher Mike Peters, pitcher Jerod Slaven and shortstop Logan Sharrett, but there are some very good players returning - led by Super Six selection Rider at catcher. Rahm, Echols and Moreland all hit .300 or better in 2006. "We should be decent at the plate," Vashaw said, "but our defense and pitching remain a question. We really like some of our young kids, and if we can get the kind of senior leadership we need we might be able to sneak in there."

Peachtree Ridge

•Head coach: Bubba Wilson

•2006 record: 8-18

•Returning starters: P Matt Creel, P/IF Dillon Waters, P Davis Luker, P Brice McCord, P/OF Blake Perry, P/IF Jeremy Herren, P David Randall, IF Aaron Schmitz, IF Matt Birkbeck, OF Randy Fender, P/OF Nathan Chong

•Other key players/newcomers: Chris Hallum, Kyle Taylor, Justin Goetz, Chris Brunatti

•Outlook: This might just be the year for the Lions. After struggling to an 8-18 record in 2006, Peachtree Ridge looks poised to perhaps make a run at the postseason. The Lions return 11 total starters from last season, including nine seniors, and bring back three players (Perry, Birkbeck and Chong) who hit over .330 last season. "We feel like we have a chance to compete for a playoff spot," Wilson said. "We have a lot of seniors this year and this should be our best team so far here at Peachtree Ridge."

REGION6-AABuford

•Head coach: Tony Wolfe

•2006 record: 28-7

•Returning starters: OF/P Chase Burnette, OF Jay Tee Swanson, P/OF Brandon McEachern, OF Maverick Dodd, 3B Trey Hunsucker

•Other key players/newcomers: Cameron Henderson, Andy Kellogg, Corey Hannah, Billy Johnson, Cody Vining

•Outlook: The Wolves lost a lot of talent from last year's state semifinalist team, but they return enough to still be considered one of the elite AA squads in Georgia. Burnette (.534, 9 HR, 50 RBIs) is one of the top hitters in the state and Swanson isn't too shabby either - hitting .400 with five home runs and 30 RBIs as a sophomore. Burnette and McEachern also will be two of the main arms in the Wolves' staff. "We've got to develop most of our infield," Wolfe said. "We had six kids sign college scholarships last year, so that's a lot to replace."

GAC

•Head coach: Cliff Shelton

•2006 record: 19-11

•Returning starters: OF/P Landon Bennett, 1B Lee Chapple, 3B/P Dillon Geraghty, P Taylor Wood, OF/P Brent Burrows, SS Mark Edwards, 2B Colton Chapple, DH Patrick Savage

•Outlook: Only in a region like this one could a team like GAC not be considered a heavy favorite for the title. With standout seniors like Wood (5-5, 2.56 ERA) and Bennett (.432, 8 HR, 28 RBIs) returning, as well as Savage, who hit .433 with 33 RBIs as a freshman last year, the Spartans should be one of the most talented teams in the entire state. But they'll have work to do to even qualify for the state tourney. "We are in the toughest region in AA baseball," Shelton said. "It will be difficult to make the state playoffs, but if we play to our potential and stay healthy we should get in."

Wesleyan

•Head coach: Mike Shaheen

•2006 record: 29-8

•Returning starters: SS Connor Winn, P/OF Kevin Ruiz, P/1B Grayson Garvin, 2B James Ramsey, Kyle Edwards, Rick Anderson, Andrew Donovan

•Other key players/newcomers: C Parker Brunelle

•Outlook: This team could be scary good. The Wolves were state runner-ups last season and lost a huge piece in Tony Plagman, who is now at Georgia Tech, but they return an incredible junior class that should again help Wesleyan challenge for a region and state title. Garvin (11-2, 1.85 ERA), Ruiz (.462, 9 HR, 47 RBIs), Winn (.405, 10 HR, 27 RBIs) and Ramsey (.343, 7 HR, 24 RBIs) all had great years last year and will be joined by Brookwood transfer Parker Brunelle, who has signed with Florida State. "We have never won a region title and that will be our No. 1 goal," Shaheen said. " ... of course this is all potential. The pressure is on. It should be fun."

REGION8-AAAA

Dacula

•Head coach: John Poitevint

•2006 record: 17-9

•Returning starters: OF/P Travis Blackburn, IF Blair Frost

•Outlook: The Falcons move into a new region this year, 8-AAAA, and will do so without a whole lot of experience. Dacula returns just Blackburn (.338, 4 HR, 21 RBIs) and Frost (.359, 2 HR, 18 SBs) from last year's squad, which was eliminated from playoff contention in the last game of the season. "We lost seven of our nine starters and all of our varsity pitching," Poitevint said. "But we are excited about our opportunities. We really like our young and inexperienced team."

REGION8-A

Hebron

•Head coach: John Werle

•2006 record: 1-18

•Returning starters: SS Bobby Cole, LF Trent Johnson, CF Jesse Myrick, 3B David Brannen, 2B Josh Baldwin, C Ken Edwards, RF Jeremy Bell

•Outlook: The good news is there is really nowhere to go but up for the Hebron baseball team. And led by one of the county's leading hitters in Cole (.503 avg. and 23 SBs), the Lions should be much improved in 2007. They return seven starters from last season's team. "We are looking forward to surprising teams this year with our team speed and versatility," Werle said. "We have to minimize our errors since we will be getting our young guys valuable playing experience."

REGION5-A

Providence

•Head coach: Adam Cantrell

•2006 record: 19-10

•Returning starters: P/IF Jesse Meier, IF Chris Wages, IF Jon Walker, C David Shealy, 1B/P Tyler Johnson, P/OF Andy Vess

•Outlook: Providence went 14-4 in Region 8-AA last season and has now dropped down to 5-A this year. With the return of six starters, including a solid 1-2 punch of Meier and Vess on the mound, the Stars should be poised for another state playoff appearance in 2007 - though Cantrell admits 5-A, which includes defending state champ Eagle's Landing, is extremely competitive. "The toughest thing will be learning the strengths and weaknesses of new teams and players ... our biggest strength is our depth, we have a good number of returning players."