Augusta coach Keith Conrady said he has a luxury that few, if any, coaches in the league have this year. He has a big group of returners with experience.

“The nucleus of the team from last year is back,” Conrady said. “...I think we’re going to be more competitive because everybody is back. They’ve got another year of experience under their belt, and they know what to expect.”

With Baylee Johnston back—hopefully in good health all season after dealing with injuries—and a strong returning group of juniors, the Orioles have raised their expectations.Johnston, the Orioles’ lone senior, wants to be competitive and lead the Orioles, but she also said she’s going to be cautious. If she can do that, she feels she has a good chance to get to State.

“I feel like I’m going to be more careful and not get hurt,” Johnston said. “...I think I have a good shot this year. I only missed [State] by one stroke last year.”

Ashley Roby, Lyndsey Stuart, Sarah Braddy all are three returning juniors who have potential to consistently score at meets. Some of the underclassmen could step in and challenge for that, as well.

“Jackie Brandenburg really turned it on late last year, really improved,” Conrady said. “I’m looking for her to do big things.

“I’ve got two freshmen I’m thrilled with,” Conrady said. “I don’t know what all they can do, so they’re going to be my project for a while until I get them in.”

For her last season, Johnston hopes to make it as special as possible.

“I want to inspire them to want to keep playing,” Johnston said. “I hope we can all grow together as a team, and work together to maybe even go (to State) as a team.”