Stewart F. House - Special Contributor With the softball playoffs starting on Thursday, teams from across the Dallas-Fort Worth area will begin the road to the state tournament in Austin. North Texas is a hotbed for softball talent, and here are 12 players that fans should keep an eye on during the playoffs.
Steve Hamm - Special Contributor Morgan McCallum, SS, Mesquite Horn / Her 16 HR, 48 RBI, .598 average is enough to terrify any opposing pitcher, and as a sophomore she is nearing Triple Crown numbers for the entire Dallas area in Class 5A. Right now, she is .05 points from leading in batting average, entering the postseason.
G.J. McCarthy - Staff Photographer Maribeth Gorsuch, P, Lewisville / Whether on the mound or at-bat the SportsDayHS 2013 player of the year is still one of the toughest players in the area to beat. This season, she has a 14-3 record, with 162 strikeouts in 105 IP. And her ERA is a staggering .600.
Stewart F. House - Special Contributor Margo Beck, C, Plano West / Among the area leaders in home runs (10) and RBI (47), Beck is a legitimate power threat who can change a ballgame every time she steps up to the plate.
Louis DeLuca - Staff Photographer Julia Hollingsworth, OF/SS, Ennis / Her .678 batting average, 28 stolen bases and 6 triples show she is the sparkplug for Ennis' offense that is averaging more than 11 runs per game since district play began.
Steve Hamm - Special Contributor Taylor Maliska, P, Ennis / Harnessing an area-best .479 ERA, Maliska is nearly untouchable with the ball in her hand. She has 101 strikeouts to 26 walks and is harnessing a 14-1 record. She also picked up a pair of saves this season.
Steve Hamm - Special Contributor Mariah Denson, P, Mansfield Timberview / Denson is an Oklahoma State pledge with an 18-3 record and 1.56 ERA for the state’s 25th-ranked 5A team. She gets plenty of support from an offense led by Ashley Timmons, who is hitting .545 with 11 home runs and 42 RBIs.
John F. Rhodes - Special Contributor Ashley Hardin, OF, Flower Mound Marcus / As a junior, she led 5A hitters with 12 home runs, and this season while the long balls are down - only 10 homers - she is still raking in the RBIs with 31.
Steve Hamm - Special Contributor Ariel Ortiz (1) and Miranda Herron (9), Waxahachie / Picking up where she left off in 2013, Ortiz is back knocking the stitching off of softballs. She is batting a blistering .638 with 11 home runs and a Dallas-area best 60 RBIs. Herron has 16 homers and 40 RBIs.
Brad Loper - Staff Photographer Marilyn Rizzato, 3B, North Forney / She is among the 4A area leaders in home runs (10) and RBIs (41) and is hitting .488 for the state’s 10th-ranked 4A team. Rizzato and Peyton Hedrick have combined for 18 home runs and 82 RBIs in 30 games for the District 10-4A champion.
Brad Loper - Staff Photographer Christi Flanigan, P, North Forney / She is No. 4 in Class 4A in innings pitched this season with 127 and her 20-3 record is good for No. 2 overall. Expect her to have the ball against The Colony in the bi-district opener.
David Minton - DRC Preslee Gallaway, P/SS, Pilot Point / Her slash line is nearly identical to her junior year when she hit .457 with 8 home runs and 52 RBIs. This year, she has 7 and 31 heading into the playoffs. She has lineup protection from Allison Strittmatter making a dangerous combo for Pilot Point.
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