The end of one chapter gives way to the start of another, and such is the case for Northeast Dallas County athletics.
Throughout the summer, Star Local Media will reflect on the year that was in Northeast Dallas Country, while also looking ahead to what lies in store for 2019-20.
Obviously, there are a number of teams in each of the five represented districts that are outside of the coverage zone, so many of these answers will focus on Mesquite ISD, Rowlett, Sachse, Sunnyvale and Dallas Christian.
With that said, here’s the sixth installment of Three Questions for Northeast Dallas County:
1. Who are the local softball teams that can contend for a district title?
There are certainly some area contenders, but they will have to knock off a heavyweight in order to reach the top of the mountain as Wylie was a regional finalist, Rockwall went three rounds deep and Forney advanced to the state semifinals.
Sachse earned a share of the 10-6A title in 2017 and 2018 before being dethroned, but has the personnel to reclaim the top spot. Though losing pitcher Mattie Boyd will be tough, they do return co-newcomer of the year Madison McClarity, first-team all-district selections Caitlin Clem, Katlin Lusk and Tarynn Luttrull and second-teamers Nya Brown, Kayla Olthouse and Bailey Balderson.
Wylie will still be formidable with a solid group led by defensive player of the year Rylen Wiggins and co-newcomer of the year Mikayla Hoffman, but there are big shoes to fill with the graduation of 10-6A VMP pitcher Annie Gunther and offensive player of the year and Arizona signee Isabella Dayton.
No Mesquite ISD 6A team has finished higher than third since Mesquite won the district in 2013.
There are some standouts, including Horn senior Taylor Thompson and sophomore Kailee Isaac-Bautista, North Mesquite senior Haleigh Mitchell and sophomore Azlyn Hornsby and Mesquite seniors Diamond Oliver and Madi Hayes and sophomore Kiana Beasley. But there are also holes to fill and it will be tough to knock off Rockwall and Rockwall-Heath, who both return their starting pitchers, as well as senior-laden Longview.
Forney has been a state power in recent years and it is hard to see them getting dethroned with the return of most valuable player Savanna DesRochers, offensive player of the year Trinity Cannon and defensive player of the year Vanessa Hollingsworth.
But Poteet should push for at least the second spot with a solid nucleus that includes seniors Makayla Geeslin, the utility player of the year, Ariana Chappell and Hallehannah Hale, juniors Miranda Chavez, Taylor Thompson and Raquel Harper and freshman of the year Trinity Jackson.
2. Who are the local baseball teams that can contend for a district title?
Poteet might be best equipped to make a run at the 13-5A crown. The Pirates finished just one game back of Forney this spring and the Jackrabbits graduate six all-district performers.
Poteet has a nice nucleus with two experienced arms in seniors Steven Fink and Jackson Huber, as well as seniors Michael Buckley, Coleman Camp, Malik Henderson, Makel Henderson and Justin Clark and junior Adam Byrd. If they can find a couple of more pieces to add to that mix, the Pirates will be in great shape to make a run at their first district title since 2011.
Rockwall-Heath and Rockwall ran away from the pack in 11-6A and it will be tough to reel them back in as they have consistently been able to reload.
Sachse rolled to an undefeated 10-6A championship in the spring, but if they are going to make it three district titles in a row, it will be with a new cast, as they graduated eight all-district starters.
Rowlett has a nice 1-2 punch on the mound with Cole Maxey and Cade Denton, and while they also expect to return shortstop Elijah San Juan and catcher Hudson Parker, they will need some newcomers to step up to provide additional offensive punch.
3. Who are some cross country runners to watch?
North Mesquite has had its share of solid distance runners in recent years and last fall, senior Roman Vasquez placed third at the 11-6A meet. Horn senior Rachel Wynn took sixth at the district competition, while Mesquite sophomore Jadyn Dangerfield is another runner to keep an eye on after qualifying for the regional meet in her inaugural campaign.
The Sachse girls finished second at last year’s 10-6A meet and did so largely with younger runners. Sophomores Gracia Leonard and Courtney Rawlings placed in the top five in their first seasons and senior Abbie Cisnero, juniors Aaron Satterfield and Samantha Thompson and sophomore Madison Ramirez were all in the top 15.
The Poteet boys have a long tradition of success in cross country with three state titles to their credit in the early 1990s. They have remained one of the top teams in the area and are poised to continue that with senior Sebastian Aguilar and juniors Juan Martinez, Alan Flores and Osmar Valdovinos.
West Mesquite has also made strides in recent years and expects to return key contributors in seniors Manuel Gomez and Juan Martinez, junior Joe Morales and sophomore Jesus Escamilla-Camargo, who placed fifth at district as a freshman.
It is a similar story for the Wrangler girls, who return senior Kaitlyn Cedillo and juniors Stephanie Tamayo and Michelle Perez as they look to build on their runner-up finish at the 13-5A meet.