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2018 Softball Preview

Feb. 10, 2018 at 4:22 p.m.

Coach Talesha Roberts gives instructions to her team during the first day of practice for the Longview Lady Lobos softball team, on Friday January 19, 2018, at Longview High School. (Michael Cavazos/News-Journal Photo)

LONGVIEW

Mascot: Lady Lobos

Coach: Talesha Roberts

District: 11-6A (John Tyler, Tyler Lee, North Mesquite, Mesquite, Mesquite Horn, Rockwall, Rockwall-Heath)

2017 record: 18-12-1

Key returning players: Brooke Goynes (.519, 4 HR, 4 triples, 3 doubles, 22 stolen bases, 23 RBI) ... Kennedy Cameron (2.94 ERA, 118 strikeouts; Hit .382, 2 HR, 4 doubles, 13 RBI) ... Kerris Cameron (.455, 5 triples, 7 doubles, 19 RBI, 2 stolen bases) ... Jordan McClain (.459, HR, 2 doubles, 11 RBI, 37 runs, 11 stolen bases)

Newcomers to watch: Zekyia Robinson

Looking good: "We have a strong set of returners in our key positions and an incoming group that is very eager to learn. This is the most motivated we have ever been, and all of the girls are really driven to win." — Roberts

Needs work: "Consistency and leadership. We are still looking for that player who is going to emerge as a leader and keep us playing our best at all times." — Roberts

Did you know: Goynes, who signed with Kilgore College this past Wednesday, struck out just 10 times in 90 official at bat last season ... The Lady Lobos have two sets of twins in the softball program, and the varsity roster will include eight sophomores

TYLER LEE

Mascot: Red Raiders

Coach: Justin Kniffen (339-118-2)

District: 11-6A (Longview, Rockwall, Rockwall Heath, Mesquite, Mesquite Horn, North Mesquite, John Tyler)

2017 record: 6-24

Key returning players: Amber Brown ... Tori Sanchez ... Natalie Blalock

Newcomers to watch: Paris Bramlett ... Christa Glover ... Elyssia Pilkinton

Looking good: "Work ethic. The ladies are putting in the work to get better and learning the game." — Kniffen

Needs work: "Every aspect of the game needs to improve. We need to improve softball IQ." — Kniffen

Did you know: Kniffen led Harleton to three straight state tournaments (2014, 2015, 2016) ... Tyler Lee is in the process of building a turf field on campus

LUFKIN

Mascot: Lady Panthers

Coach: Shelby Holcomb-Elkins (54-17)

District: 12-6A (The Woodlands, Oak Rodge, Montgomery, College Park, Conroe)

2017 record: 17-11

Key returning players: Christa Radke (.395, 9 RBI; 316 strikeouts, 2.17 ERA) ... Tatum Liles (.468, 11 RBI) ... Leah Akridge (.523, 14 RBI, 16 stolen bases) ... Sara Mayes (.545, 8 doubles, 3 HR, 20 RBI) ... Julie Armes (.318; no errors on defense) ... Yamilex Valdez (.525, 10 doubles, 19 RBI) ... Jjasmine Ibarra (.626, 9 doubles, 5 triples, 9 HR, 23 RBI)

Newcomers to watch: Abby Mason

Looking good: "We have everybody returning this season. We know the competition level we need to be at in this 12-6A district. We have beaten every team in this district, and now we're another year older and having everyone back is a huge advantage." — Holcomb-Elkins

Needs work: "Our offense can always improve." — Holcomb-Elkins

Did you know: Radke was the districts top defensive player and Liles the league's Newcomer of the Year in 2017

PINE TREE

Mascot: Lady Pirates

Coach: Paul Ellsworth

District: 16-5A (Hallsville, Marshall, Mount Pleasant, Greenville, Texas High, Sulphur Springs)

2017 record: 20-11-1

Key returning players: Haley Morgan (.390, .447 on base percentage, 29 RBI, 4 HR, 31 runs) ... Dajah Montgomery (.358, .402 on base percentage, 19 RBI, 23 runs) ... Sydney Robinson (.222, 4 RBI, 14 runs)

Newcomers to watch: Brooklyn Berry ... Taitum Barry

Looking good: "Team unity and putting the ball in play." — Ellsworth

Needs work: "Pitching is our top priority." — Ellsworth

Did you know: All of Pine Tree's coaches are local graduates. Assistants Carmen Gadt and Carol Halcumb are Pine Tree graduates, and Ellsworth is a Longview High School graduate ... Morgan has given a verbal pledge to Tyler Junior College

HALLSVILLE

Mascot: Ladycats

Coach: Kayla Whatley (32-4)

District: 16-5A (Pine Tree, Marshall, Mount Pleasant, Greenville, Sulphur Springs, Texas High)

2017 record: 32-4

Key returning players: Taylor Freeman (.406, 4 HR, 12 doubles, 39 RBI) ... Jaydin Ainsworth (.381, HR) ... Lorena Ramirez (.385, 2 HR) ... Hailey Krchnak (.333, HR)

Newcomers to watch: Alyssa DeLaGarza

Looking good: "This season we are returning nine players, so we're excited to see how the season goes." — Whatley

Needs work: "Hitting. You can always improve hitting." — Whatley

Did you know: Whatley is a Hallsville High School graduate ... Hallsville's softball facilities include new batting cages and bullpens this year.

MARSHALL

Mascot: Lady Mavericks

Coach: Alli Shepperd (41-99)

District: 16-5A (Pine Tree, Hallsville, Mount Pleasant, Sulphur Springs, Texas High, Greenville)

2017 record: 4-26

Key returning players: Gabby Moore (.365, 13 RBI, .419 slugging percentage) ... Haylie Rich (.265, 11 RBI, 23 runs, 21 stolen bases) ... Kacy Ridgeway ... Maycee Griffin ... Cate Truelove ... Chloe Buchanan ... Elizabeth Palmer

Newcomers to watch: Emily Ellenburg ... Adriana Vences ... Abby Vences ... Makayla Johnson

Looking good: "I believe we will have a well-balanced squad this year. We should succeed both offensively and defensively." — Shepperd

Needs work: "We will focus on increasing our speed this season. The faster we are across the board, the more of a threat we will be." — Shepperd

Did you know: Shepperd is a Marshall High School graduate

MOUNT PLEASANT

Mascot: Lady Tigers

Coach: Jeremy Tarrant (241-141-5)

District: 16-5A (Pine Tree, Hallsville, Marshall, Texas High, Sulphur Springs, Greenville)

2017 record: 23-10

Key returning players: Averie Ayers (14-4, 2.80 ERA, 79 strikeouts, 105 IP; .277 average) ... Blakely Cheek (.343, 8 doubles, 17 RBI, 28 runs) ... Jordan Dickerson (.479, 8 HR, 37 RBI, 35 runs, .792 slugging percentage) ... Kamille Gill (.358, 6 HR, 36 RBI, 33 runs, 12-12 stolen bases) ... Brooke Smallwood (.217, 8 doubles, 24 RBI) ... Pinky Green (.289, 3 HR) ... Lauren Lesher (.200, 5 doubles) ... Tatyana Wilkerson (.318) ... Maggie Lilly

Newcomers to watch: Carson Zachry ... Bre'Asia Hargrave ... Brooke Vaughn

Looking good: "We have multiple players who can and will play many different positions this season. We return nine players who have playoff experience." — Tarrant

Needs work: "We need to be better on defense. We must work hard to limit the big inning and score when we have runners in position." — Tarrant

Did you know: Tarrant is 125-90-3 in seven seasons at Mount Pleasant ... Gill has signed with Northeast Texas Community College, and Dickerson has given a verbal pledge to Northwestern State University

SPRING HILL

Mascot: Lady Panthers

Coach: Eric Montgomery (159-92-6)

District: 15-4A (Gladewater, Gilmer, Kilgore, Chapel Hill, Bullard)

2017 record: 7-18

Key returning players: Sydney Johnson (.567, 10 HR, 10 doubles, 31 RBI, 27 runs) ... Maddie Malloy (.316, HR, 5 doubles, 2 triples, 20 RBI, 16 runs) ... Jayla Landrum (.394, HR, 8 doubles, 3 triples, 18 RBI, 21 runs) ... Sarah Jones

Newcomers to watch: Sam Schott ... Sadie Sparks

Looking good: "We have a group of girls that are hard working and willing to learn. Our talent is mixed right now as we have to wait to see what girls will join us from basketball, but overall I feel very confident in the young women we have to work with and the talent they possess." — Montgomery

Needs work: "Killer instinct. Although we can get leads and play good defense, sometimes we lack the confidence to finish games. As the girls get to know each other and learn about each others strengths and weaknesses, we'll become more confident as individuals and as a team. We will be a team to watch this year in district and hopefully beyond." — Montgomery

Did you know: Montgomery previously coached at Forney and Frisco Reedy ... Johnson, who has a .553 career batting average with 23 home runs, 79 RBI and 24 doubles, signed a national letter-of-intent to play softball at Texas Woman's University next season

KILGORE

Mascot: Lady Bulldogs

Coach: Cheyenne Kirkpatrick (50-116)

District: 15-4A (Spring Hill, Gilmer, Gladewater, Chapel Hill, Bullard)

2017 record: 13-18

Key returning players: Kristen Wilson (.506, .551 OB percentage, 3 HR, 3 triples, 10 doubles, 34 RBI; 11 wins, 111 strikeouts as a pitcher) ... Elizabeth Idlett (.375, .479 OB percentage, 6 doubles, 22 RBI) ... Hailee Jo Lewis (.350, .470 OB percentage, 6 doubles, 12 RBI) ... Bailey Downing (.315, .402 OB percentage, 6 doubles, 3 triples, HR, 14 RBI) ... Mackenzie Harrison (.306, .438 OB percentage, 8 doubles, 23 RBI) ... Tra'Kaila Graves)

Newcomers to watch: Bailey Hedges ... Miah Thomas ... Alyssa Whitington

Looking good: "Leadership. We have some strong leaders this year that are pulling the rest of the team up with them. They are embracing the newcomers and keeping the vibe positive on the field." — Kirkpatrick

Needs work: "We need to learn each others abilities. With old and new players next to each other on the field we have to build the relationships of knowing the player beside us." — Kirkpatrick

Did you know: Current Kilgore High School players in the college ranks include Annie Mehringer (Kansas), Amber Williams (UT Dallas) and Cailon Palmer (Kilgore College0 ... Manager Sydney Barnes' brother was also a manager at Kilgore High School and KC. Other managers are Kaden Downing and Carley Dollins

GILMER

Mascot: Lady Buckeyes

Coach: Heather Barton

District: 15-4A (Spring Hill, Gladewater, Chapel Hill, Kilgore, Bullard)

Key returning players: Madeline Barber (210 strikeouts, 2.45 ERa, 145 innings pitched; .460, 8 HR, 13 doubles, 3 triples, 24 RBI) ... Madie McCurry (.269, 11 RBI)

Looking good: "Our offense looks strong. We will be able to produce runs." — Barton

Needs work: "We need to improve on our knowledge of the game. Knowing what to do and where to go every single time the ball is hit." — Barton

Did you know: Gilmer's roster will include one senior, Liz Hamilton ... Barton has been an assistant coach at Abilene Christian University for the past two years

GLADEWATER

Mascot: Lady Bears

Coach: Lori Aldredge

District: 15-4A (Spring Hill, Gilmer, Kilgore, Chapel Hill, Bullard)

2017 record: 16-9

Key returning players: Murphy Williams (.478, 3 HR, 11 doubles, 8 triples, 20 RBI, 28 runs; 16-9, 2.15 ERA, 160 strikeouts) ... Zoie Pilgrim (.525, 6 HR, 9 doubles, 37 RBI, 13 runs) ... Farren Lincoln

Looking good: "Strong pitching and defense." — Aldredge

Did you know: Williams struck out just four times in 72 plate appearances last season, and she has struck out 376 batters the past two seasons

CARTHAGE

Mascot: Lady Dawgs

Coach: Rob McFall (337-294-3)

District: 16-4A (Center, Henderson, Rusk, Tatum)

2017 record: 32-9-2

Key returning players: Hope Kruebbe ... Taylor Wills (23-7, 1.64 ERA, 187 strikeouts) ... Carson Robertson (.387, 5 HR, 14 doubles, 3 triples, 29 RBI, 28 runs) ... Kayman Courtney (.369, 12 doubles, 4 triples, 42 RBI, 28 runs, 22 stolen bases) ... Addison Blissett ... Kimberlyn Bourliea ... Dede Pope ... Kalli Cuff

Newcomers to watch: Marissa Harrison ... Karsyn Isbell ... Natalee Dinnerville

Looking good: "A lot of experience from last year's group. We had a great offseason." — McFall

Needs work: "Team defense and communication." — McFall

Did you know: Carthage advanced to the regional finals last season for the first time in school history ... Wills has a 38-16 pitching record and 343 strikeouts in the past two seasons

TATUM

Mascot: Lady Eagles

Coach: Katie Huckaby

District: 16-4A (Carthage, Henderson, Center, Rusk)

2017 record: 12-20

Key returning players: Layn Ballenger ... Lela Burney ... Adriana Bradley (.333, 12 HR, 39 RBI, 22 runs) ... Madison Reimer

Newcomers to watch: Anna Halton

Looking good: "Our work ethic and team atmosphere has been outstanding." — Huckaby

Needs work: "Playing clean, error free softball will become our biggest strength as we get into district." — Huckaby

Did you know: Huckaby, a first-year coach, was a four-year softball letterman at East Texas Baptist University

PITTSBURG

Mascot: Lady Pirates

Coach: Randy Caudle

District:14-4A (North Lamar, Pleasant Grove, Paris, Liberty-Eylau, Atlanta)

Key returning players: Madison Sansom ... Sydney Reynolds ... Taylor Bullock ...Sydney Waldrep ... McKenna Wood ... Abby Hammonds ... Tori Henderson

Newcomers to watch: Trinity Aycock ... Na'Keil Gaston ... Ananda Garrison

Looking good: "Hitting and defense." — Caudle

Needs work: "Pittsburg lost two quality pitchers and middle infield to graduation. We have good young pitchers who haven't been tested at the varsity level. I do not doubt they will step up by the time district begins." — Caudle

Did you know: Sansom has signed with Lyon College ... Kilgore College pitcher Katy Worrell, an all-conference and all-region selection last year as a freshman, trained under Caudle

VAN

Mascot: Vandals

Coach: Robert Klick (255-87-3)

District: 13-4A (Brownsboro, Canton, Mabank, Rains, Wills Point)

2017 record: 18-12

Key returning players: Morgan Benge (.442, 3 HR, 24 RBI, 23 runs) ... Alex Walton (.312, 12 stolen bases, 29 runs) ... Baleigh Briggs (.333, 2 HR, 20 RBI, 23 runs) ... Hallie Wilkerson (.289, 20 RBI, 16 runs) ... Rachael Thomas (.363, 3 HR, 28 RBI, 29 runs) ... Riley Mitchell (.275, 3 HR, ,21 RBI) ... Kelsie Briggs (.342, 17 RBI; 10 wins, 3.63 ERA) ... Emily Thedford (.310, 15 RBI)

Newcomers to watch: Skylar Savage ... Tristyn Stanford

Looking good: "Competition within our entire program. This is the deepest our program has been, talent-wise, since I have been here. We have multiple girls competing for each position." — Klick

Did you know: Thomas was the district's top newcomer in 2016 and the league's MVP a year ago

WILLS POINT

Mascot: Lady Tigers

Coach: Charlie McMath (24-20)

District: 13-4A (Van, Canton, Brownsboro, Rains, Mabank)

2017 record: 9-15

Key returning players: MacKenzie Bolt (.294) ... Olivia McMath (.377, 5 triples, 22 RBI)

Looking good: "We are a much stronger team this season. Our offseason program has produced a more powerful team. We'll have a few players this season with legitimate power at the plate." — McMath

Needs work: "We lost our top three pitchers to graduation. Replacing them will be difficult." — McMath

Did you know: The Lady Tigers were 3-7 in district play last season

ORE CITY

Mascot: Lady Rebels

Coach: Shane Wilson (138-91)

District: 16-3A (White Oak, Waskom, Elysian Fields, Jefferson, Harleton, Beckville, New Diana)

2017 record: 13-19

Key returning players: Morgan Clawson (.250, HR, 10 RBI; 167 innings pitched, 11-16, 2.81 ERA, 92 strikeouts, 25 walks) ... Bayleigh Larkins (.217, HR, 14 RBI) ... Shasta Hickman (.267, 13 RBI) ... Cassie Gabaldon (.242, 9 RBI) ... Hannah Pendarvis (.368, 3 HR, 27 RBI) ... Tori Pena (.377, 17 RBI, 23 runs) ... Abbi Smith (.337, HR, 21 RBI) ... Andi Freeman (.284, 16 RBI) ... Brandee Gabaldon (.218, 13 RBI)

Newcomers to watch: Emily Hoosier

Looking good: "We are an experienced team. We have eight returning starters, many of which have been starters since their freshman year. I certainly hope we can take advantage of that and continue to improve in every aspect of the game." — Wilson

Needs work: "We need to continue to improve offensively. I hope with our experience we perform better with runners in scoring position in clutch situations." — Wilson

Did you know: Sexton Field, home of the Lady Rebels, was built mostly by former Ore City employee Shane Sexton. Upgrades this year include the backstop, concession stand, restrooms and dressing room, with special thanks to the administration, school board and maintenance staff, Billy Billingsley, Frank Reber, Tony Gabaldon and Ken Terry

WHITE OAK

Mascot: Ladynecks

Coach: Jamie Wilson

District: 16-3A (Waskom, Elysian Fields, Jefferson, Ore City, Harleton, Beckville, New Diana)

2017 record: 21-4

Key returning players: Samantha McGrew ... Madison Malone ... Savannah Wilkinson

Newcomers to watch: Bailey Owens ... Kelsi Wingo ... Lexi Dodson

Looking good: "We are very young, but I feel that we aren't going to let that hold us back." — Wilson

Needs work: "We will definitely be working on placing the ball to get base hits." — Wilson

Did you know: McGrew struck out just once in 111 plate appearances last season

HARLETON

Mascot: Lady Wildcats

Coach: Hayland Hardy

District: 16-3A (White Oak, Beckville, Elysian Fields, Jefferson, New Diana, Waskom, Ore City)

2017 record: 19-7

Key returning players: Brooke Weaver (.419, HR, 27 RBI) ... Aubrey Nixon

Newcomers to watch: Hannah Hardy ... Haven Hardy ... Marlie Demoney ... Clair Underwood ... Ashton Hawk ... Tyler Mmobley ... Laynee Gardner

Looking good: "Sophomore Marlie Demoney is pitching well and improving with every outing." — Hardy

Needs work: "Hitting and defense. We are just very young, but I believe we will improve with time." — Hardy

Did you know: Hardy, in his first year coaching softball, compiled a 324-178 record as a baseball coach

ELYSIAN FIELDS

Mascot: Yellowjackets

Coach: Lexi Ccommander (125-60)

District: 16-3A (Beckville, Harleton, Jefferson, New Diana, Ore City, Waskom, White Oak)

2017 record: 13-14

Key returning players: Bri Chandler ... Bre McGinty ... Holly Holden ... Shayla Mathews ... Kayla Evans (.317)

Newcomers to watch: Mary Frances Ellis ... Christen Smith

Looking good: "I feel this group comes out and works hard every day. They are pretty coachable and want to be successful." — Commander

Needs work: "Consistency and becoming more comfortable, especially in spots that are being filled from last year." — Commander

Did you know: Former Elysian Fields standouts Amanda Busby-Juneau (2006) and Candise Wise (2011) are both now coaching. Busby-Juneau is in her second year as head coach at Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport, and Wise is head volleyball coach and assistant softball coach at Brook Hill (Bullard)

BECKVILLE

Mascot: Ladycats

Coach: Winston Whiddon (298-146-2)

District: 16-3A (Elysian Fields, Harleton, Jefferson, New Diana, Ore City, Waskom, White Oak)

Key returning players: Kimberley Baker (.425, 15 doubles, 17 RBI) ... Shelley Pierce (.488, HR, 14 doubles, 2 triples, 31 RBI) ... Ally LaGrone

Looking good: "We have several seniors I am depending on to really make an impact on the team Losing only three seniors last year, most everyone saw quiet a bit of playing time I'm looking for lots of maturity on the field." — Whiddon

Needs work: "Sharpening the defensive side of the field and putting the ball in play with runners on base." — Whiddon

Did you know: Whiddon has a 132-42-2 record at Beckville

JEFFERSON

Mascot: Lady Bulldogs

Coach: Misty Randolph

District: 16-3A (Elysian Fields, Harleton, New Diana, Ore City, Waskom, White Oak, Beckville)

Key returning players: Hannah Welch (9 wins, 5.27 ERA, 173 strikeouts in 168.2 IP; .412, 2 HR, 11 doubles, 20 RBI, 8 stolen bases) ... Carley Chambers (.333, 6 doubles) ... Allison Dupree ... Remi Rhodes

Newcomers to watch: Katie Holliday

Looking good: "We're feeling really good at the plate. Everyone is making good contact and being very successful." — Randolph

Needs work: "With people moving into different positions than last year, we need to clean up our defense and get used to where we are at." — Randolph

Did you know: Every Jefferson player last season earned a spot on the Academic All-District Team

NEW DIANA

Mascot: Lady Eagles

Coach: Justin Verzosa

District: 16-3A (Beckville, Harleton, Jefferson, Ore City, Waskom, White Oak, Elysian Fields)

2017 record: 25-10

Key returning players: Brooklynn Manes (.343, 4 HR, 20 stolen bases) ... Heather Zook (.77 ERA, 175 strikeouts; .443, 27 RBI) ... Kylie Easterling (.361, 37 RBI, 11 doubles, 4 HR) ... Kloe Meador (.407, 8 HR, 28 RBI) ... Madison Brown (.374, 9 doubles, 4 triples, 3 HR) ... Becca Bates (.389, 41 strikeouts in 31 IP) ... Shelby Meshell

Newcomers to watch: Haley Manns

Looking good: "We are looking strong offensively and defensively with lots of depth and experience in the lineup. We carry a lott of variety defensively with multiple players who can play multiple positions." — Verzosa

Needs work: "We are working to become more efficient with our play, tightening up as a whole and paying more attention to detail." — Verzosa

Did you know: The Lady Eagles return five seniors, four juniors, two sophomores

SABINE

Mascot: Lady Cardinals

Coach: Molly Mackey

District: 15-3A (Arp, West Rusk, Harmony, Troup, Winona)

2017 record: 5-23

Key returning players: Miranda Cook (.556, 6 RBI, 1.278 OPS in district play) .... Genesis Willett (.467, 14 RBI, 1.163 OPS in district play) ... Calleigh King (.600, 12 RBI, 1.536 OPS in district play)

Newcomers to watch: Mackenzie Cook

Looking good: "The hard work, passion and grit are instilled in every single one of mya players, and I hope to continue to see it grow throughout the season." — Mackey

Needs work: "Communication and finishing games." — Mackey

Did you know: Sabine has used the city park in Liberty City as its softball home for several years, but will have its own home field for the 2019 season

WEST RUSK

Mascot: Lady Raiders

Coach: Bill Morton

District: 15-3A (Arp, Sabine, Harmony, Troup, Winona)

Key returning players: Makana Morton (.663, 12 HR, 67 RBI, 55 stolen bases) ... Brooklyn Floyd (.491, 6 HR, 38 RBI) ... Sydnee Mmartin (.451, 6 HR, 28 RBI) ... Maeghan Davis (.461, 2 HR, 28 stolen bases) ... Alyson Floyd (.401, 5 HR) ... Natalie Farrow (.431)

Looking good: "If we can continue to build our offensive numbers we will be pretty tough. We have a tough district with several good teams, so it should be pretty exciting. Our pitching should be top-notch with several girls being able to throw." — Morton

Needs work: "Defense was our Achilles heel last year, and I attribute that to being young. After a year of experience, I feel we will be more solid on defense." - Morton

Did you know: Makana Morton, who is 20-7 as a pitcher and has 17 home runs and 99 stolen bases in two seasons, played for the New Zealand national team this past summer

HARMONY

Mascot: Lady Eagles

Coach: Sheri Seahorn

District: 15-3A (Sabine, Arp, Troup, West Rusk, Winona)

Key returning players: Tori Hudson

Newcomers to watch: McKinzee Settles ... Analese Cano

Looking good: "We will be very versatile and interchangable. That will be very beneficial for us depending on the type of teams we play throughout the year." — Seahorn

Needs work: "We just need to get some experience under out belt

ARP

Mascot: Lady Tigers

Coach: Christel Holland

District: 15-3A (Sabine, Troup, West Rusk, Winona, Harmony)

2017 record: 7-14

Key returning players: Branausha Harris ... Nichole Geisleman ... Reagan Smith ... Katie Laird ... Emily Day ... Jade Williams

Newcomers to watch: Paige Laird ... Haley Laird

Looking good: Team enthusiasm and work ethic are very good to start the season. In addition, we have enough numbers this year to have a JV team, so those younger players can gain valuable experience." — Holland

Needs work: "We will be very young this year with only six returning players from last year's squad. Several freshmen will have to step up and be everyday players." — Holland

HUGHES SPRINGS

Mascot: Lady Mustangs

Coach: Tisha Thompson (188-65)

District: 14-3A (Hooks, Redwater, New Boston, Queen City, Paul Pewitt, DeKalb, Daingerfield)

2017 record: 34-4

Key returning players: Peyton Blythe (.487, 8 HR, 37 RBI, 45 stolen bases) ... Haylee Wilson (.397, 9 HR, 62 RBI) ... Kennedi Northam (.423, 28 RBI, 13 stolen bases) ... Charlie Reeves (.282, 28 RBI, 12 stolen bases) ... Kensley Echols (.360, 21 RBI, HR) ... Marisol Kennedy (16-3, 1.44 ERA, 5 saves; .382, 33 RBI, HR, 5 stolen bases) ... Shelbie Fickling (.418, 5 HR, 41 RBI, 6 stolen bases) ... Zoe Lanier (17-1, 1.48 ERA, 62 strikeouts) ... Abbye McKinney (.241, HR, 18 RBI) ... Pearl Perry (.262, 10 RBI) ... Calli Stewart ...Zaida Lanier

Newcomers to watch: Silver Montgomery

Looking good: "We are junior and senior heavy this year. This group has a lot of playoff experience together. With our pitching depth and versatility on theh field, we should be solid in all aspects of the game." — Thompson

Needs work: "Right now we just need everyone back on the field, and as long as this group continues to build on our team-first philosophy, not much will stop them from reaching their goals this year." — Thompson

Did you know: The six seniors on this year's squad are a combined 89-16 the past three seasons ... Blythe (Texas Tech) and Wilson (Arkansas-Monticello) have already signed to play at the next level

DEKALB

Mascot: Lady Bears

Coach: Ellen Eubanks

District: 14-3A (Hooks, Hughes Springs, Redwater, New Boston, Queen City, Paul Pewitt, Daingerfeld)

Key returning players: Bailey Blackstone ... Taylor Williams ... Kadyn Clark ... Jada Carreathers ... Railey Rankin

Newcomers to watch: Makayla Danniels ... Harley Leavings

Looking good: "We have five seniors returning, and we have six freshmen who are young and full of energy." — Eubanks

Needs work: "We will have a lot of young players in key roles. We need to come together early and help those news players fit into our culture." — Eubanks

Did you know: DeKalb finished 3-11 in district play last season

MINEOLA

Mascot: Yellowjackets

Coach: Chandler Touchstone

District: 12-3A (Alba-Golden, Edgewood, Quitman, Grand Saline, Kemp, Eustace)

Key returning players: Kiley Banks ... Audrey Bush ... Isabella Tresca

Newcomers to watch: Alyssa Lankford ... Emily Wiley

Looking good: "We are a quick team. With the exception of two or three in the lineup, we are very capable of getting down the line. This will be a big key to our success this year." — Touchstone

Needs work: "Our biggest challenge so far is communication. Defense wise we are doing things differently than in the past, and because change is hard we are struggling." - Touchstone

UNION GROVE

Mascot: Lady Lions

Coach: Sheena Maynard

District: 19-2A (Big Sandy, Hawkins, New Summerfield, Overton, Carlisle, Union Hill)

2017 record: 9-7

Key returning players: Madelynn Lacaze (.509, 2 HR, 22 RBI) ... Kasi Jones ... Maddie Clowers ... Winter Wilson ... Savanna Chambliss ... Moriah Chasteen ... Natalie Hammett

Newcomers to watch: Gracie McKinley ... Maddie Barnett ... Wyleigh Wilson ... Jayce Nutt ... Maci Williams

Looking good: "Three-deep in the bullpen." — Maynard

Needs work: "Filling the defensive holes." — Maynard

BIG SANDY

Mascot: Ladycats

Coach: Charlie Downs, Sarah Downs

District: 19-2A (Union Grove, Hawkins, New Summerfield, Overton, Carlisle, Union Hill)

Key returning players: Jerricka Hare ... Airikah Pippins

Newcomers to watch: C.J. Ponder ... Peyton Adams

Looking good: "I believe our girls are going to be in a position to build on our progress from last year. We have a lot of returning players who made huge individual improvements last year." — Downs

Needs work: "We will have to work on our efficiency in the circle. If we can get our pitchers to pitch to contact and make teams earn their runs, we should be OK." — Downs

CARLISLE

Mascot: Lady Indians

Coach: Jamie Skelton

District: 19-2A (Union Grove, Big Sandy, Hawkins, New Summerfield, Overton, Union Hill)

2017 record: 16-11

Key returning players: "Allison Gray ... Haley Fears ... Tori Esters ... Hagan Grigsby ... Katelyn Winfrey

Newcomers to watch: Lani Green ... Megan Beene

Did you know: Skelton won more than 100 games in Henderson and is 69-25 at Carlisle

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