Preseason projections are never easy.
But for area softball and baseball districts, that task is made more difficult by the fact that there is such a short body of work with which to refer to last season due the COVID-19 pandemic, which derailed the season before it really got started.
So for a point of reference, the closest large data point is two years ago, when many of the current standouts were underclassmen.
For the 13-5A season, it has been an uneven schedule thus far, but teams have gotten in a handful of district games, and in fact, weather permitting, are slated to hit the midpoint next week.
Poteet has a proud softball tradition dating back 25 years. During that span, the Pirates have made 21 playoff appearances, including seven in a row, and they twice advanced all the way to the state tournament back in 2003 and 2009.
But Poteet is not the only team with a strong pedigree, shaping the 13-5A race to be one that goes down to the wire.
Here is a look at the field:
Poteet (2-3 in district, 8-6)
It has been a bit of a roller coaster ride for the Pirates through the early stages of district.
Poteet had one to put aside in its minds last Friday when things got away from them in a 19-2 loss to Royse City.
Outside of that game, the Pirates have shown the ability to score, as they have a pair of run-rule wins over Highland Park and Greenville, as well as a 17-13 loss to North Forney in a slugfest.
Poteet has worked some different arms on the mound, but sophomore Alyssa Gallardo has logged a bulk of the innings and has been lockdown at points.
The aforementioned lineup has some pop with players who were contributors two years ago, including junior outfielder/shortstop Kyndall Fomby-Bell, senior third baseman Miranda Chavez, junior infielder Trinity Jackson and senior outfielder Taylor Thompson.
Sophomore shortstop Abby Rainwater and senior outfielder Raquel Harper have done a good job setting the table at the top of the order and the Pirates have also gotten production from players such as junior catcher Mallory Mueller and senior second baseman Jaden Roney.
Poteet has taken care of business against the teams it needs to beat, but to crack the top four, and perhaps compete for a district crown, the Pirates are likely going to need a few quality wins over the upper tier of the district.
West Mesquite (0-5, 1-7)
Unlike their crosstown rivals, the Wranglers do not have much of a history on the softball diamond, having made just three playoff appearances, the last of which came back in 2001.
This season, unfortunately, has followed a familiar path for West Mesquite, but there is still time to get it turned around.
The Wranglers have relied on Kamry Henderson on the mound and in the middle of the lineup.
Breanna Harper is the leadoff hitter and also plays a big defensive role in center field, while Angela Escobedo, Ally Rogers, Makayla Hardy, Sadie Marie Gomez and Myrna Martinez have been among the other players to watch.
Crandall (5-0, 12-9)
The Pirates have been one of the more impressive teams in district, with three lopsided wins and a solid victory over state-ranked Royse City.
Crandall has used two primary arms on the mound in sophomore Kaylee White and senior Scarlett Perez. Neither is an overwhelming strikeout pitcher, but both have been effective.
The Pirates are hitting .375 as a team, led by junior Karmyn Bass’ .509 clip. Bass also has 15 extra-base hits, including a pair of home runs, Alix Miller has six triples and a pair of homers and junior Jodie Epperson has gone deep a team-high four times.
Forney (4-1, 11-6)
The Jackrabbits are no stranger to recent success, having won the state championship in 2018 and then falling in the state semifinals, 7-6 in 11 innings, to eventual champion Angleton in the state semifinals two years ago.
Forney might not boast the same star power it has featured in the past, but it has hardly affected its performance in district thus far, where they had outscored opponents 66-4 in four games prior to Tuesday’s 11-5 loss to Royse City.
Last Friday against Greenville, Savannah Whitaker struck out five of the six hitters she faced and Elizabeth Grethey also got three inning of work in.
The batting order does have some pop, with first baseman Rylie Harris and shortstop Kyler Sanders at the top. Third baseman Vanessa Hollingsworth belted three home runs in an earlier game against Highland Park and Katie Kretz, Savanah Hughes, Abby Long and Tatum Waller are among the others that have put up good numbers thus far.
Royse City (4-1, 14-2)
The Bulldogs have put together the most impressive overall body of work, which has earned them a spot at No. 22 in the Texas Girls Coaches Association state poll and they are tied for second after a loss to Crandall followed by the win over Forney.
Senior Brooke Johnson has been effective on the mound, and held Poteet to just four hits and no earned runs in her last outing.
Johnson is also in the heart of the lineup in a strong group that includes Cassidi Mullen, Ryley Lance, Madison Doherty and Kasey Kuyrkendall.
North Forney (3-2, 9-7)
The Falcons are another team that expects to be in the mix and that earlier win over Poteet could prove huge later in the season.
Mirella Manzo recently struck out nine in a four-inning no-hitter against West Mesquite.
Manzo has gotten plenty of support on the mound from a lineup that includes Brianna Acosta, Emmy Apodaca, Alexis Boswell/Dietz, Kirsten Sudderth, Hayeli Acosta and Bailey Willoughby.
Highland Park (1-4, 5-9)
The Scots have been a juggernaut in several different sports, but that has never really been the case in softball.
Still, there is no reason to believe Highland Park cannot impact the 13-5A race. Lili Reenan turned in one of her stronger pitching performances in their recent win over West Mesquite.
Reenan, Campbell Sharpe, Reese Singleton, Shelby Pettit, Skylar Hammel, Faith Horner and Olivia Jewell have led the way on offense.
Greenville (1-4, 4-12)
It was been a tough road thus far for the Lions. Christa Carroll has gotten the call on the mound, but has not gotten a lot of help from her defense.
Carroll also hits in the middle of the lineup, with Maci Williams, Avery Wilkinson, Madelen Lucas and Shayla Heath the other top hitters for Greenville thus far.