The softball season is still in its early stages, but as the page turns toward the start of 10-6A play, the early returns might point toward one of the more interesting races in recent years.
This district has been defined by dominant teams in recent years. Former district foe Rockwall ran the table undefeated in 2015. Rowlett did the same the following year, as did Sachse in 2018 and Wylie last season.
The only time during that stretch there was not an undefeated champion was in 2017 when there were two teams ahead of the pack, as the Eagles and Mustangs finished with matching 11-1 records, but were four games clear of the rest of the field.
One team could very well rise above the pack in the coming weeks, but as of now, only two teams carried winning records out of non-district action.
Here is a look at the field:
Rowlett (4-8, 1-0 in 10-6A)
The Eagles extended their playoff streak to 15 years in a row, but it was not easy, as they needed a play-in victory over Naaman Forest to secure their spot.
It has been an up-and-down first month, but Rowlett made a nice statement in its 10-6A opener on Monday with a 19-4 victory over the Rangers.
Riley Smith had two triples and drove in three runs, Katelyn Dotts had two hits and three RBIs, Emily Everitt doubled twice, Kelsi Dotts also plated a pair of runs and Makayla Ainsworth hit an inside-the-park home run.
Rowlett had to replace first-team honoree Ashton Norberg, who not only led the team in batting, but was also its most steady option on the mound, as well as shortstop Maya Brooks.
Everitt returns for her senior season after making the first team a year ago when she hit .405 with 21 runs and a team-best 40 RBIs and Katelyn Dotts and Kelsi Dotts are each key contributors back in the lineup.
The Eagles have also gotten early production from other players, such as Smith, Sonia Robles and Andrea Coady.
Ashleigh McLeroy picked up the victory in the district opener on Monday and Jaidyn Barnard and Lindsey Workman have also been options on the mound.
Sachse (3-7-1, 0-1)
The Mustangs have had to rearm on the mound with the loss of pitchers Mattie Boyd and Katlin Lusk, who logged a lion’s share of the innings the last three seasons.
Thus far, Sachse has handed the ball to a pair of sophomores. Madison McClarity, last year’s 10-6A co-newcomer of the year, is averaging better than a strikeout per inning, and Kayla Olthouse has also gotten an extended look.
McClarity wasted little time establishing herself as one of the top hitters in the area, batting .500 with six home runs, 21 doubles, 27 runs and 36 RBIs and she has flexed her power again already this season. She also flashed her talents on the mound, going 7-1 with a 3.16 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 44.1 innings.
Senior Tarynn Luttrull is a four-year contributor who was a first-team selection after hitting .455 with four home runs and 35 RBIs and she was joined on the first team by junior Caitlin Clem, who hit .405.
Also back in the mix are second-teamers in junior Nya Brown (.333) and Olthouse (.372, 39 runs), as well as senior Bailey Balderson (.318).
There are also four freshmen on the roster that could emerge as the season progresses, including Kelsea Flores, who is hitting .429 through the early stages.
Sachse is hoping Tuesday is not a sign of things to come, however, as they dropped a 7-0 decision to Wylie in their opener.
Wylie (5-2-1, 1-0)
The Pirates ran the table last season en route to the 10-6A title, but there are holes to fill with the loss of most valuable player Annie Gunther and offensive player of the year Isabella Dayton.
The cupboard is not bare, though.
Junior Mikayla Huffman was tabbed the co-newcomer of the year, senior Brittanie Henry and junior Averie Gunther, who has increased her role on the mound this season and shut out Sachse on Tuesday, were first-team all-district selections and Devin Chaky was named to the second team.
Garland (5-2-3, 1-0)
The Owls boast one of the proudest traditions in the area, having won back-to-back state championships in 2006-2007. After falling on some tough times, the Owls have made four consecutive trips to the playoffs and are looking to make it five in a row.
Garland, who had little problem in is district opener on Monday in a 21-0 rout of South Garland, returns one of the best pitchers in the area in Stephanie Dale, who was a first team selection, Rebecca Gauer made the second team, as well as honorable mentions in Launa Castaneda, Angelina Gonzales and Carolina Valencia.
In addition to her work on the mound, Dale is also among the team leaders at the plate, where she has posted a .467 batting average and Gauer (.500) and Valencia (.462) are also off to a quick starts.
Another player to keep an eye on is Z’Natria Evans, who is hitting .643 and has also belted three home runs and driven in 13.
Naaman Forest (1-7, 0-1)
The Rangers were edged out of the playoffs in the play-in game by Rowlett last season and getting back into the mix will be tough after graduating four all-district performers.
Naaman Forest has turned to a trio of pitchers with Amanda Tu, Faith Matthews and Litzy Verdin.
The Rangers will also rely on that trio on offense along with Aliyah Ramirez, Emma Conner, Zaria Minafee and A’Mya Clark.
North Garland (1-3, 0-1)
The Raiders finished in a three-way tie for sixth place after winning a pair of district games last season.
North Garland will likely be involved in a lot of games similar to Monday, when they were unable to keep pace with Lakeview in a 19-10 loss.
Lakeview (1-1, 1-0)
The Patriots are in a similar boat coming off a two-win district campaign. For any of those teams to make a jump up into contention, they will likely have to separate from that pack and Lakeview took a positive step toward that with the 19-10 victory over North Garland in the opener.
South Garland (1-9, 0-1)
The Colonels have been trying to find the right mix of pieces though the first month. Katelynn Alanis, Janet Cruz and Jessica Aranda have all gotten looks on the mound.
There have been a handful of games where the South Garland offense has been able to score some runs with Alanis, Aranda, Alexandra Amaya, Katerin Blanco, Susana Flores, Britani Maldonado, Ally Morales and Diana Zamora.