•The northern Nevada prep softball crop is one of, if not the weakest, I've seen in my 14 years covering high school sports in the Truckee Meadows. There is very little depth in quality teams.
I remember 1998. Reed was the seventh seeded team in the regional tournament. The Raiders finished second in the tournament, captured a state tourney berth and wound up winning the state title. That's a pretty good talent pool when the seventh seeded regional team can win a state title.
Any of those seven teams might be better than any Northern 4A club this year. Now, that year was the exception and not the rule. All of those teams had at least one, if not more, elite pitchers.
That certainly cannot be said this year. There aren't enough elite pitchers to count on one hand this spring. Without a doubt, Spanish Springs looks like the team to beat this year. The Cougars are the defending state champions and have won three of the last four Nevada large-school titles. Additionally, they have not lost to a Nevada opponent yet this spring. However, the Cougars are a relatively young squad and are still learning to be as good as SSHS clubs of the recent past.
Reed may have the best pitcher in the state in Destinee Levesque, who signed last week to play for WAC power Fresno State during her college career. Levesque is just now getting back to full strength after fighting through an early season injury. Her presence makes Reed a favorite, along with Spanish Springs and Carson to compete for the Northern 4A crown.
If any of those three teams are beaten by another Northern 4A foe I'll be shocked. If a team outside that trio wins earns the North's lone bid to next month's state tournament, I'll be buying the first round of drinks at the pseudo-sportswriters convention.
I'll admit I'd like to see one of the two Sparks schools capture a North and state title. I'm a sucker for a good story and local kids winning it all makes for the best.
•After a few down to mediocre years, the Reed track teams look improved this spring. If the Raiders continue to improve this season, they could challenge for North championships. That would be a first since NIAA hall of fame track coach Dave Nolte retired from the east Sparks school earlier in the decade.
Current RHS track coach Dale Moss is in his fifth season at the helm of the Reed program. He's put in the hard work to help the Raiders' program ascend back to the top. Early season results point to the Reed tracksters getting better and better this spring.
•The Spanish Springs baseball team is on a roller coaster ride through the first half of the 2011 campaign. The Cougars opened with 12 straight wins and followed that up with three straight losses, before winning their last two.
To be fair, the schedule has had a lot do with the Cougars' fate. Spanish Springs lost the second of two games to Galena and then both of its league clashes to Reno, accounting for the trio of losses. Both Galena and Reno are expected to be competitors for a Northern 4A championship banner.
Spanish Springs could be among that group too. We'll just have to wait and see how it does among other top teams this spring.
•Sparks High baseball may have caught a break when it comes to Northern Nevada's 3A/2A league scheduling format. The Railroaders reside in the 3A/2A Mount Rose League, which is comprised of Sparks and the Lake schools.
That's good for Sparks. Perennially, Lake schools are not baseball powers. That's because Mother Nature often shortens the time they can play outside, leaving them behind others who have dry and snow-free fields to work out on.
So far, Sparks is 6-0 in Mount Rose League baseball play. When all is said and done, it will be interesting to see how the SHS squads fares against non-league foes.
Dan Eckles is the Sparks Tribune's sports editor. He can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org