The league softball race is going to be a barnburner this year as EHS, Vela, and North have designs on a title while Econ has a new coach with a brilliant pedigree. And new teams Weslaco, the perennial power, and improved Weslaco East will have plenty to say about the 31-6A affair.

The Lady Jags start a new era with former EHS standout Samantha Arciba having stepped in for long-time mentor Lonnie Garza, and the former brings youth, enthusiasm and college softball experience to the difficult task on the East Side. It’s always been hard at ECON, especially with the myriad club-savvy kids at the other schools. But Arciba will definitely infuse the spirit of the Millennial into her coaching tack.

Richard Tressler is definitely not a Millennial but he is the dean of Valley coaches, and will always find a way to compete with fire. His NORTH squad has a couple of senior superstars in Nat and Hope Rodriguez, plus a series of youngsters who have done well so far.

Last year the Coogs came fourth in the district and were knocked out in bi-district, so expect Tressler’s crew to come out with a chip on its shoulder as it looks to surge back into trophy contention. Sophomore infielder Annabel Segoviano (.538) and senior outfielder Anelle Pequeno (.542) are off to fast starts along with freshman Kaylee O’Bryan and soph hoopster Melo Cantu. Sophomore first baseman Patty Davila was solid as a freshman and will only get better. Hope Rodriguez scorched to a mammoth .760 average and 20 RBI in the first nine North dates. Nat Rod was at .447 with 12 RBI and five wins on the mound. Jess Diaz leads the team with 15 runs scored through nine tilts.

VELA’S chances at a title are sound, and remember, last year the Lady SaberCats went four-deep in the playoffs. Most of the cast from that squad returns, but the big absence is really big, star pitcher Monee Reyes, now in college.

If Coach Jon Maples can get decent hurling from his new staff, the rest will take care of itself, as the lineup is stacked with seasoned kids. Shortstop Taylor Chavez and catcher Darissa Buenrostro will lead the charge, and when basketball girls Julia Cordon and Kameryn Casares get their sea legs under them, that’s two more dependable starters. Look for a great season from lefty outfielder Gaby Villarreal, a dynamic all-tools senior.

New force Monee Montilla, a sweet-swinging first sacker, is part of a strong group of youthful Vela players, along with sophomore classmates Karina Guzman and Bri Salinas. St. Joseph grad Salinas (.545, 10 RBI in 10 games) appears ready to blossom and has given fine mound outings so far. Lefty Montilla (.579, 12 RBI), Guzman (10 RBI, three wins) and junior Deandra Longoria (.500, 15 RBI) contribute to a seriously potent offense that has averaged nearly 10 runs per game in 2019. The Lady Sabes finished third at the Mission Tournament and advanced their record to 12-1 after a great performance at the La Joya Tourney. Chavez is nursing an injured ankle and sat out the tournament.

Meanwhile, EDINBURG HIGH suffered a huge setback early on as the league’s top arm, Erika Cortez, moved back to Rio Hondo as the latest season began. The importance of this development cannot be underestimated.

Still, the program has a couple of other tremendous talents, such as shortstop Maya Zavala. The loss of slugger Katie Truitt to transfer will hurt, but the Lady ‘Cats picked up versatile Seci Lopez in transfer, filling a hole in the infield. And having a vet like Kristee Salas back for her senior year is a great thing. Truitt was in Valley with her new Flour Bluff nine for the La Joya Tourney.

EHS is just 4-5 so far but Coach Ramon Arciba’s bunch hopes to have enough juice left to make a run; the club will seek to find mound options and solidify the bottom half of the order by the time league play rolls along in March, and if it can find a few new or overlooked contributors, a title could be in the cards. Make sure to be there for Arciba vs. Arciba, by the way.

NOTES: Econ is off to a 2-10 start while North is at 7-3, posting three shutouts in a row at Laredo before losing to a stacked CC Vets club, 6-2.