Head coach: Kristopher Daniels
Record: 29-7, No. 2 in the state
Region: 8-AAAAA, No. 2 seed
First-round opponent: vs. Hillgrove, today at 6 p.m.
Key players: RHP Kanani Cabrales, Sr. (.417, 5 HR, 28 RBIs, 17 R); SS Alesha Mann, Jr. (.376, 3 HR, 21 RBIs, 34 R); OF/C Jacqui Switzer, Fr. (.355, 2 HR, 28 RBIs, 27 R)
Top pitcher: RHP Cabrales (20-4, 1.38 ERA, 156 K, 152 IP)
Outlook: Despite making their state tournament debut, the Tigers have every reason to feel confident after winning 20 of their last 22 games behind a strong overall effort from Cabrales and getting production up and down the batting order. Cabrales also has tournament experience from her freshman and sophomore seasons while playing for Grayson, so the Tigers shouldn't be overwhelmed by the atmosphere, even starting out against No. 10 Hillgrove
Collins Hill Eagles
Head coach: Paul Pierce
Record: 25-8, No. 9 in the state
Region: 7-AAAAA, No. 3 seed
First-round opponent: vs. Harrison, today at 6 p.m.
Key players: 1B Payton Wilson, Sr.; 2B Danielle Patterson, Sr.
Top pitchers: RHP Aeshia Miles, Soph.; RHP Amanda Chance, Soph.
Outlook: The Eagles will have to rely on a relatively new flock in their quest for a fourth straight title in the state's highest classification, with only a handful of players like seniors Patterson and Wilson, junior Calli Star and sophomore Brea Dickey having much playing experience in Columbus. But they've found a way to rise to the occasion throughout the season, and will take on the opening challenge against Harrison head on.
Mill Creek Hawks
Head coach: Roger Parham
Region: 7-AAAAA, No. 4 seed
First-round opponent: vs. Kennesaw Mountain, 6 p.m.
Key players: SS Lauren Bennett, Sr. (.439, 10 2B, 33 R); CF Taylor Rogers, Sr. (.362, 36 R, 13 SB); 2B McKenzie Fagioli, Jr. (.371 19 RBis, 30 R); 3B Morgan Bell, Jr. (.374, 5 HR, 45 RBIs); 1B Sarah Peery, Jr. (.313, 22 RBIs); DP Carly Zabow, Soph. (.354, 16 RBIs)
Top pitchers: RHP Kaitlyn Howell, Fr. (8-5, 2.85 ERA, 88 IP); RHP Heather Felt, Jr. (10-7, 2.83 ERA, 106 IP)
Outlook: The Hawks' bats have been red hot lately, with Mill Creek averaging 7.8 runs in five playoff games behind a top of the batting order led by Rogers, Fagioli, Bennett and Bell. Their path to the title won't be an easy one, however, with top-ranked Kennesaw Mountain being their first obstacle today.
Buford WolvesHead coach: Tony Wolfe
Record: 28-3, No. 1 in the state
Region: 7-AAA, No. 1 seed
First-round opponent: vs. Jackson, today at 2:30 p.m.
Key players: 2B Jordan Deep, Soph. (.456, 6 HR, 27 RBIs, 9 2B, 20 R); OF Remington Hasty, Soph. (.413, 3 HR, 30 RBIs, 9 2B, 30 R); OF Niki Cook, Jr. (.438, 6 RBIs, 34 R, 39 SB); SS Drew Puckett, Fr. (.362, 1 HR, 24 RBIs, 15 R); C Noah Sudderth, Jr. (.238, 2 HR, 20 RBIs); 1B Tessa Daniels, Soph. (.436, 1 HR, 17 RBIs); OF Jazmin Hawkins, Sr. (.392, 1 HR, 10 RBIs, 10 SB)
Top pitcher: RHP Bria Bush, Soph. (18-2, 1.14 ERA, 139 K, 116 IP)
Outlook: Though young, with a lineup that includes four sophomores and a freshman, the Wolves do have plenty of Columbus experience, with several players having contributed to the most recent of their five straight titles last season, particularly Deep, Hasty, Daniels, Bush, Rude and Sudderth. But there will be some uncharted territory competing up in classification and with Bush having to carry much of the pitching load, with Daniels having been limited to just four innings due to injury. And while the Wolves figure to be able to score plenty of runs, defense behind Bush will need to be strong.
Head coach: Nichole Dixon
Record: 27-9, No. 4 in the state
Region: 6-AA, No. 2 seed
First-round opponent: vs. Vidalia, today at 2:30 p.m.
Key players: C CaraMia Tsirigos, Sr. (.448, 9 HR, 50 RBIs, 15 2B, 1.449 OPS); SS Katie Frerking, Sr. (.447, 1 HR, 34 RBIs, 34 R, 5 3B, 1.238 OPS); CF Victoria DiStasi, Sr. (.377, 2 HR, 36 RBIs, 16 2B, 34 R, 1.021 OPS); RHP/IF Dacia Jones, Jr. (.369, 4 HR, 18 RBIs, 6 SB, 29 R)
Top pitcher: RHP Jones (12-2, 3.16 ERA, 41 K); RHP Amanda DeLaPerriere, Sr. (14-6, 2.66 ERA, 76 K)
Outlook: After finishing just short of their goal with last year's runner-up finish, the Wolves hope to take the next step to their first state title, beginning with today's opener against Vidalia. With a powerful batting order led by seniors Tsirigos, Frerking and DiStasi and junior Jones, scoring runs has not been an issue this season. The biggest difference for the Wolves in the postseason has been the 1-2 pitching punch of Jones and DeLaPerriere, who have both been solid in the postseason -- a trend that must continue if Wesleyan is to bring home the title.