Softball royalty has resided in Sparks for the past few years and it likely will again this season, although a few teams could make a push.
League play in the Northern 4A begins Thursday.
Reed won the Northern 4A Regional title last year, for the fourth consecutive year. Then, Spanish Springs got hot in the state tournament and won the championship.
But the Cougars are young this season, with five freshmen on the varsity. And pitcher Hayley Fein, who was a huge part of the state championship team’s success, has graduated.
Reed also lost several key players, but pitcher Julia Jensen is back for her senior season. She will play at Nevada in the fall.
But for now, Jensen is back to terrorize high school batters.
She was a sophomore pitcher for the Raiders when they won the state championship in 2015.
“Julia is a big part of our team,” Reed coach Jon Wunder said. “And Jessica Sellers is back in the lead-off spot.”
Wunder said it’s time for the players who were role players last season to step up for the Raiders to get back on top.
In addition to Fein, the Cougars also lost Kourtney Townsend and Regan Hubbard from the state championship team.
Reed, which spent most of last season ranked near the top of national softball polls, lost six seniors from that team including, Kenzi Goins, Alysha Imperato, Alexis Gonzales, Ryia Grant, Marriah Adame and Mackenzie Howren.
Wunder said Reed should be solid on defense but will need to prove itself at the plate.
Bishop Manogue was young last year, and is again this year with just two seniors, but could be one of the teams to contend for the title.
Reed hosts Damonte Ranch on Thursday and plays at Manogue on Saturday.
Spanish Springs opens at Wooster on Thursday and hosts Carson on Saturday.
Jeff Davidson, in his 12th season at Spanish Springs, is downplaying this year’s team.
“That was last year. I have a totally different team,” Davidson said. “Last year at the end of the season, they played well when they needed to. Every year I’ve been coaching at Spanish Springs has been a very different year. It’s a different challenge.
He has just one senior, Ryan Hauder.
He has two freshmen pitchers, Tyra Clary and Kaylah House and a junior, Mirinda Nichols. Junior Aubrey Parks is back at catcher.
Thursday: 3:45 p.m., Bishop Manogue at Hug; Carson at Reno; Damonte Ranch at Reed; McQueen at Douglas; Galena at North Valleys; Spanish Springs at Wooster.
Saturday: (all DH) 11 a.m., Reed at Bishop Manogue; Carson at Spanish Springs;McQueen at Damonte; North Valleys at Douglas; Galena at Hug; Wooster at Reno.
2016 Northern 4A League Records
Reed 20 2
Spanish Springs 17 5
Damonte Ranch 14 8
Douglas 14 8
McQueen 14 8
Reno 14 8
Galena 13 9
Bishop Manogue 13 9
Carson 6 16
Wooster 4 18
North Valleys 3 19
Hug 0 22