With the completion of the March 28 games, the 2017 District 10-3A softball season is at the halfway mark. It provides a much better time to give somewhat studied opinions about how the season will play out.

In softball, even more so than baseball, pitching plays a vital role in the success of teams. There’s not a pitch count rule in softball, and it’s not uncommon to see pitch totals in standard seven-inning games go well over 100.

We talked with Howe coach Jeff Martin recently, getting his expert view of the district.

“It seems to be pretty competitive from top to bottom — I think there’s going to be quite a battle to fill out the playoff positions,” Martin said.

There might have been a little coach-speak going on there, but he has probably 300 more wins than our 0, so he does have that going for him.

After every team has played those six first-half games, we see some definite trends that we think will carry over into the second half.

We start with the top: the Lone Oak Lady Buffaloes.

Senior Mariah Nichols is usually in the circle for Lone Oak, and the University of Memphis commit is having an excellent season. Lone Oak is unbeaten going into round two and they posted a 9-3 win at Howe over the Lady Bulldogs. It is a young team, playing a lot of sophomore’s who are very athletic.

The two teams meet again, this one in Lone Oak, on April 7.

That March 13 loss to the Lady Buffs is Howe’s only league loss, and the Lady Bulldogs have a talented and deep lineup.

Senior Madisyn Hargrove and junior Torrey Stubblefield give Howe more depth at the pitching position, and these two are on par with Nichols in the talent department as well.

Whitewright is just one game behind the Lady Bulldogs, with a two-game lead for the third position.

The Lady Tigers catch Van Alstyne, Leonard and Lone Oak at home in the second round, and their place is a hitters’ ballpark.

Van Alstyne has to regroup for the second half after losing its last five games of the first round.

The Lady Panthers have three pitchers who are into their first full season in the circle and two of those, Jenna Williams and Amryss Brogdon are first-year varsity players.

Head coach Jason Brogdon made some lineup changes early in the district season that shored up his defense, an uptick on the offensive side would be welcomed down the stretch.

The Lady Panthers have run into some rough spots lately and they finished the first half of league play in the midst of a five-game, district losing streak after a loss to Leonard on Tuesday night.

At the halfway point, here’s the way it looks to us: Lone Oak, Howe and Whitewright look to be a bit better than a second group, Van Alstyne and Leonard. Farmersville and Commerce look to be on the outside of any playoff consideration.

That’s our look at District 10-3A softball.