The high school softball season begins this week.
Airline and Haughton open Monday with games at Louisiana Tech.
The Lady Vikings face Ruston at noon and West Monroe at 4 p.m. The Lady Bucs take on Ruston at 10 a.m. and West Monroe at 2 p.m.
Two parish teams start their seasons Tuesday. Benton is at Byrd and Parkway hosts North Webster.
Airline and Parkway also begin District 1-5A play this week. The Lady Vikings visit Evangel Christian on Thursday and the Lady Panthers visit Southwood.
Evangel and Airline finished 1-2 in 1-5A last season.
Airline is coming off a 17-10 season under coach Regina Digilormo. The Vikings finished just one game behind Evangel in the 1-5A standings last season.
Topping the list of returnees is sophomore infielder Madison Ennis, the co-MVP on the All-Parish team. Ennis batted .482 with 39 RBI, six home runs and 10 doubles last season.
All-Parish pitcher Hannah Hutson is also returning. Hutson had a 3.099 ERA last season with 155 strikeouts in 131 innings.
Other key contributors back include Kourtnee White and Jessica Baffuto. Freshman Caroline Easom, a standout at the youth softball level, should be an immediate contributor.
Benton returns almost its entire lineup from last year’s 17-15 team that came close to upsetting No. 5 seed Neville in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs. The Tigers finished second in a District 1-4A division that includes two-time state champion North DeSoto.
Louisiana-Lafayette signee Sarah Koeppen, the co-MVP on the All-Parish team, leads the returnees for coach Michelle Owens.
Koeppen batted .452 with 39 RBI, 11 doubles and 11 home runs last season
Other All-Parish players returning are junior pitcher Ashley Hunter, sophomore infielder Makenzie Chaffin, senior infielder Abi Cole, senior infielder Abby Kent and senior outfielder Hallie Saintignan.
Hunter had a 2.258 ERA last season. Chaffin had a .376 batting average with 18 RBI and 10 doubles. Cole batted .308 with 14 RBI and 11 doubles.
Kent had a .400 batting average with 31 RBI, eight doubles and four home runs. Saintignan hit .447 with 18 RBI and six doubles.
Other returnees include Taylor Jones and Brittany Ulmer.
Parkway went 12-13 last season and lost in the first round of the playoffs.
Senior All-Parish outfielder Madelyn Elliott, who batted .300, tops the list of returnees for coach Neil May.
Other key contributors from last year’s team returning include Allie Hunt, Abbie Norcross and Maecy Ingram.
Hunt, a pitcher, was a second-team All-District selection in 2016.
Haughton went 9-17 last season. Catcher Lacey Dodson, a four-year starter, leads the returning players for coach Leanne Prather.
Dodson batted .488 with 26 RBI, 10 doubles and six home runs last season. All-Parish outfielder Sidney Arnold, who batted .333 last season, also returns.
Other key returnees include Shelby Hensley, Leah Hopson, Savannah Salley, Courtney Garrett and Lauren Edwards.
Hensley, a pitcher, and Salley were second-team All-District and All-Parish selections last season.
Bossier begins its second season under head coach Joanna Mangum on Wedesday at home against Plain Dealing.
— Russell Hedges, firstname.lastname@example.org