The end of one chapter gives way to the start of another, and such is the case as teams around the state begin preparations for the 2022-23 school year.
For some, that means a fresh start as they look to get back on the winning track, while for others, it represents an opportunity to build on what they accomplished in the past year.
Throughout the summer, Star Local Media will reflect on the year that was for the Frisco area, while also looking ahead to the district’s storylines and subplots for the 2022-23 school year.
After looking at the year in review, today we take a peek into the future, continuing with the spring sports.
1. What local softball teams can contend for district titles?
As this Questions series has touched on several times in recent weeks, Frisco ISD sports teams will be facing a new, yet exciting landscape in the upcoming future.
With the school district’s expansion to 12 high schools, FISD programs will be split up in all sports for the first time.
While FISD has been guaranteed at least four playoff teams in most sports with its all-inclusive district, given the strength and depth of the school district in many sports, this opens the door for even more teams to appear in the postseason.
The torch in softball has been passed around in recent years and this season belonged to Heritage. Not only did the Coyotes claim the first district championship in program history, they did so in undefeated fashion, rolling to a 18-0 record.
Heritage outdistanced the field by four games en route to the crown, with Memorial and Reedy tying for second place and Lone Star nosing out Wakeland on a tiebreaker for the fourth spot.
So can the Coyotes repeat?
For starters, as part of the new 10-5A, Heritage will not be grouped in with three of its tougher contenders from a year ago, as The Lions, Wolverines and Rangers will all be in 9-5A.
Even without the change, the Coyotes would have entered the season as one of the favorites simply for the presence of Jensin Hall. The senior-to-be was voted as the district most valuable player as she posted a 27-2 record with a 0.75 ERA and 336 strikeouts in 158 innings on the mound, and hit .416 with three home runs, give doubles, two triples and 29 runs scored at the plate.
Though Heritage will miss offensive player of the year Elyse LeClair and catcher of the year Nadya Quezada, they should return all-district performers in senior first baseman Kailey Sweezey, junior third baseman Vyanna Quezada, junior outfielder Ahna VanMeter and sophomore Kaira Netzel.
The Coyotes should once again get a tough challenge from Memorial, who will remain a district rival.
The Warriors also return a solid nucleus with senior Olivia Tefft, the 9-5A utility player of the year, a trio of first-team juniors in Natalie Gowen, Avory Cannon and Alexis Taylor, and second-team senor Emily Bustillos.
Including Frisco, who finished sixth, four of the top six teams in the final standings will be in the new 9-5A, leaving Heritage and Memorial with Centennial, Independence, Lebanon Trail and Liberty, as well as newcomer Emerson.
That group has combined to make only four playoff appearances since 2017, but the door is wide open, with four spots available to the seven-team 10-5A.
As for 9-5A, the four FISD teams will battle with The Colony, as well as the trio of Carrollton ISD schools in Creekview, Newman Smith and R.L. Turner.
Of that group, The Colony will be tough, as a season ago, it not only made the playoffs, it advanced four rounds deep, knocking off Memorial in the regional quarterfinals along the way.
Turner was the lone CISD team to make the playoffs and that was coming out of a weaker district with five Dallas ISD teams.
Each of the FISD teams in 9-5A has reasons for optimism.
Reedy will return sophomore Megan Lau, last year’s newcomer of the year, as well as an ace on the mound in first-team senior Makayla Cox, who went 18-4 with a 1.85 ERA and 178 strikeouts in 121 innings while also leading the team in hitting with a .500 batting average, four home runs and 35 RBIs.
Lone Star will turn to defensive player of the year junior Kirstyn Jones, first-team senior Emma Zaboronek and first-team junior Emilee Prochaska.
Wakeland returns its battery with first-team pitcher Kate Piskor and first-team catcher Riley Langford and Frisco is hoping its first playoff berth since 2017 is ahead of them with a quartet of first-team returners with seniors Emilee Gilbert and Arie Thompson and juniors Audrey Richardson and Drea Thompson.
2. What baseball teams will contend for district titles?
Last season, it was Lone Star who captured the 9-5A championship, but Wakeland stole the show in the playoffs, putting it all together to make a run to the state tournament.
Those two teams were joined in the playoffs by Independence and Memorial, who finished in a three-way tie with Liberty and Heritage, but was able to advance on a tiebreaker.
As with softball, FISD baseball teams will be split up into different districts for the upcoming season.
Including Reedy, who finished at .500 in district with a 9-9 record, the top seven teams are fairly equally split up in the new realignment.
The Rangers, Wolverines and Lions are joined by Frisco in the new 9-5A, while the Knights, Warriors, Redhawks and Coyotes will join Lebanon Trail, Centennial and Emerson in 10-5A.
Lone Star will have to defend its district crown after the loss of five all-district performers, including pitcher of the year Dominick Reid and reliever of the year Tyler Bogusz. The cupboard is not completely bare, though, with second-team seniors Chase Womack, Bennett Fryman and Gabe Barrientos expected to return.
The Wolverines were also hit hard by graduation, but a program that has made the playoffs in 11 of the last 12 seasons has shown the ability to reload and the all-district trio of Carson Priebe, Addison Brown and Dylan Snead provide a solid foundation.
The Lions have a pair of arms back in the fold with all-district pitchers Will Johnson and Brandon Huff, as well as first-team junior Braden Hernandez and Frisco, who has not made the playoffs since 2016, could be an interesting team to watch with a quartet of all-district juniors-to-be in pitcher Tom Mulkern, infielders Austin Gathright and Michael Catalano and utility player Landon Karrh.
Of that group’s four new district mates of the three Carrollton ISD schools and The Colony, only Creekview was able to make the playoffs.
As for 10-5A, the race for the top is wide open with the departure of Lone Star and Wakeland.
Fresh off the first playoff appearances in their program histories, Independence and Memorial look for a repeat.
The Knights graduated three all-district performers, but do return a pair of first-teamers in senior pitcher Parker Herlehy and junior infielder Wyatt Sanford.
The Warriors return two of the better players in the district in 9-5A defensive player of the year senior Braden Smith and utility player of the year Preston Peyton, as well as second-team junior outfielder Reece Lunsford.
Liberty was a tiebreaker away from back-to-back playoff appearances and Heritage was nosed out of its second trip in its history.
The Redhawks must replace five all-district performers, including 9-5A most valuable player Cade McGarrh.
The Coyotes also suffered losses, with offensive player of the year Jaxon Haynes, but they are poised for success with junior Jaxon Miller, the 9-5A newcomer of the year, first-team senior infielder Bryce Gilchrist, second-team senior pitcher Dylan Doudt and second-team junior designated hitter Diego Gonzalez.
3. Who are some track and field athletes to watch next spring?
Frisco ISD has had no shortage of track and field champions over the years and last year was no different.
For Wakeland’s Hannah Pfiffner, in fact, it was an all-too-familiar story. After winning the 5A high jump as a sophomore, Pfiffner not only defended her crown, her clearance of 6-00.00 was six inches higher than the rest of the field, making the senior-to-be the prohibitive favorite to make it three in a row next spring.
Heritage’s Kirin Chacchia joined the FISD state champions list as she won gold in the 300 hurdles, making her a favorite to repeat in her senior year.
Several other FISD athletes will be back to try to add their names to the list.
Lebanon Trail senior Laila Hackett narrowly missed out on gold with a second-place finish in the 100 and she was also fourth in the 200.
Lone Star junior Hannah Forde also has her eye on the top of the medal stand after claiming a silver medal in the triple jump.
Among the other returning state qualifiers for the girls are Lone Star junior Kelis Jules in the 100 hurdles and Memorial junior Falyn Lott in the long jump and on the boys side, Reedy senior Garrick Spieler in the 3,200 and Heritage junior Kameron Franklin in the high jump.