Talk about an interesting development in softball to begin what promises to be one whale of a drama. Vela, looking to take the next step from contender to champion in town, enjoyed a banner performance at the Mission FastPitch Tournament, beating both North and Edinburg High to advance to the title game of a stacked event.

Though the Lady SaberCats expired in the championship, losing to Weslaco 8-0, victories against the two teams that have dominated the city ranks for ages gets Jon Maples’ club off to a terrific start in 2018.

At 6-1, Vela now looks to a home game Monday against Rowe, following a 3-2 triumph over North Friday night in Mission and a 4-2 result over EHS. The Lady Sabes bring back the fireballer Naomi “Monie” Reyes for her senior season, along with most of the cast that carved out 18 wins a year ago.

That includes slugging junior shortstop Taylor Chavez, who homered at Mission versus CC King, plus the Guerra Sisters, Audrey and Amber, and speedy outfielder Alyssa Alaniz. They will be at the La Joya Tournament this weekend as will Econ, which competed at the Donna Tourney last weekend.

EHS started off well at Mission and scored a signature win over San Benito Friday, only to drop games to Vela and Mercedes (5-4) on the concluding day. Nonetheless, the Lady Bobcats have to be considered one of the favorites for the 31-6A race, despite the graduation of a few stars, notably the legendary Dezi Marmolejo. Coach Ramon Arciba’s outfit went 28-4 last season and reached the second round of the playoffs before losing to Weslaco.

This year’s group features a college-bound Amber Reyes on the mound and in center, with first baseman Kristee Salas, outfielder Katie Truitt, and infielder Maya Zavala all looking for more success in 2018. San Antonio transfer Shayla Garcia (a catcher) and San Benito move-in Erika Cortez have been prominent in the early going, especially Cortez, a horse on the hill who is swinging a powerful stick in the cleanup position. EHS has Hanna at home Tuesday before traveling to Laredo for the Border Olympics Thursday through Saturday.

In Laredo, EHS will have company, as the Lady Coogs will be there, too. Coach Richard Tressler’s team is off to a 4-2 start and boasts a handful of the top players in the league. Catcher Hope Rodriguez and infielder-pitcher Natalie Rodriguez are experienced hands, as is shortstop Vanessa Garces. Sophomore Seci Lopez is stepping into a key role as a pitcher and infielder, while freshman Patty Davila, a 6-0 prospect, is at first base and looking very solid so far.

North gets a rematch with Rio Hondo Tuesday, after having defeated the dangerous Lady Bobcats 1-0 during the Mission Tournament. A year ago, North captured 23 victories and once again is at the head of the list of clubs seeking the No. 1 spot in the district.

With that said, however, Vela definitely bears watching after its fine showing at the FastPitch. The Lady Sabes have been building steadily the past few seasons and they feel that this time they will have what it takes to be more than competitive with their twin rivals.