The Falcons (12-7, 6-6) advanced to the Region 3D playoffs last season before falling 7-1 to Staunton River.
Pitcher Ashli Linkous (12-6, 1.79 earned run average) returned to the circle this season along with a host of familiar names.
Players to watch include quick center fielder Katie Harless, catcher Cameron Wyatt (.364, 9 RBIs), third baseman Lauren Woodall (.333, 19 RBIs), left fielder Afton Jessee, pitcher Haylee Herndon, first baseman Lexus Jordan, outfielder Kendra Jessee, catcher Erin Terry, Jamie Selfe, Sydney Nunley and Abby Holmes
Abingdon (6-4, 3-2) has earned district wins against Lee High, Wise County Central and Gate City this season.
No team information was provided by Abingdon
Versatile senior and team captain Kate Pendleton is the player to watch for ninth-year coach Cara Noe.
At the plate, Pendleton hit .351 last season. In the circle, Pendleton compiled a 2.49 earned run average with 98 strikeouts.
“Kate is one of the best on-field leaders I’ve seen,” Noe said.
Another key returnee for the Blue Devils is sophomore shortstop Sarah Thompson, who hit .321 as a freshman.
The other returning starters are junior catcher Kinslee Hammonds, junior second baseman Kendal Quillen and sophomore outfielder Kiersten Quillen.
Freshman Abby Davidson and sophomore Taylor Blevins are newcomers to the pitching staff.
“I’m excited for this group,” said Noe, whose team began the season at 8-5 overall and 2-3 in district play. “They worked hard in the off-season and in pre-season practice. We returned a good number of players, and also brought in a few new players. We hope to continue to grow and develop.”
The Blue Devils (10-11-1, 7-5) dropped an 8-2 decision to Lebanon in the opening round of last season’s Region 2D playoffs
New coach Hannah Light Cress is off to a good start, leading the Trojans to a 10-2 record.
The established leaders include senior shortstop Haylee Dye (.385), junior pitcher Madison Hill and junior catcher Maggie Deel (.311).
Other returnees for Battle are senior center fielder Peyton Crowder, senior left fielder Sarah Musick, junior first baseman Emma Harmon and versatile junior Maddie McConnell.
Freshman Hanna Jo McReynolds supplies pitching depth along with power hitting. Other regulars include second baseman Caroline Hensley, Alyssa Wallace and third baseman Logan Leonard, who delivered a grand slam in Tuesday’s 11-0 win over Union.
“I believe we have a solid 1-9 to go with a great pitching duo with Madison and Hanna Jo,” said Cress, standout pitcher at the former Coeburn High School and King University. “With our upperclassmen leaders spread throughout the lineup along with some new faces, I believe we will be very strong. These kids have worked hard for me from day one.”
The Trojans (17-7, 9-2) fell 10-3 to Richlands in the second round of last season’s Region 2D playoffs.
John Battle won last year’s JV title with a 21-9 victory over Gate City.
The Generals failed to win a district game last season, falling 11-0 to Union in the SWD tournament opener.
Lee High opened this season with a 2-10 record.
No team information was provided by Lee High.
Last season ended in heartbreak for the Wolfpack in the Region 2D semifinals. After taking a 4-0 lead against Lebanon into the bottom of the sixth inning, Ridgeview (14-6, 9-3) lost 8-4.
There is good news with the return of eight upperclassmen who have started since freshmen. That group includes senior pitcher Nikole Counts, who posted a 14-6 record last season with 141 strikeouts and a 1.88 ERA.
The other veterans are junior outfielders Shae Sutherland and Lauren Rasnick, senior shortstop Bailey Frazier (.348, 16 RBIs), junior third baseman Camdyn Sykes, junior second baseman Hunter Grant (.433, 19 RBIs), junior first baseman Carissa Mullins (16 RBIs) and junior catcher Lonnie Jo Swiney (15 RBIs).
“Hopefully, our experience will pay off,” coach Kent Grant said. “We got a little bit of a late start on the season, but we have a group of hard workers and competitors.”
Ridgeview is currently 7-6 overall and 3-2 in the district.
The new coach of the Bears is former Lee High and Virginia-Wise basketball standout Makenzie Cluesman.
Union relies on Marleigh Duncan and Zoe Brooks in the circle, with Jordan Jones at catcher.
The infield has Madison Shuler at first baseman, Kayley Neece at second, Brooke Light at shortstop and Chelsea Burke at third.
Emili Brooks, Heather Lipps and Sophia Morgan began the season in the outfield, with Emma Duncan at DH.
“Our team strengths are upperclassmen leadership, dedication to workouts and a well-rounded approach,” said Cluesman, whose team began this season at 3-4 overall with a win over Abingdon. “We have great potential, and this group can go far as they want to go.”
After losing 10-5 to John Battle in last year’s Mountain 7 tournament title game, Union (16-7) fell 3-0 to Richlands in the Region 2D playoffs.
WISE COUNTY CENTRAL
Sixth-year coach Justin Sturgill relies on three four-year starters in catcher Brook Porter (.450, 5 home runs, 20 RBIs), second baseman Brittany Mullins (.400, 4 HR) and outfielder Olivia Mullins.
The Warriors also feature a pair of three-year starters in outfielder Olivia Basham and third baseman Hannah Carter. Junior Reagan Dotson is a veteran at first base.
“I feel the top half of the batting order will be solid with three seniors and two juniors. We will go as they go,” said Sturgill, whose team began the season with a 3-4 overall record and 1-2 district mark. “This could also be one of the better defensive teams I’ve had. Our success will depend on how quickly our pitchers can get up to speed.”
Central (9-13, 3-9) lost 5-4 to Ridgeview in last year’s district tournament consolation game