As the softball playoffs begin this week, two city schools have first-round matchups from which they will be the favorites to advance. District 31-5A champ EHS (23-3) is pitted against Brownsville Hanna while runner-up North (25-6) takes on Weslaco.

Significantly, both local teams have defeated their bi-district foes in 2011. The playoff action begins Thursday with North at home against Weslaco and continues Friday with EHS at home versus Hanna. The Lady Coogs will travel to Weslaco for Game Two Friday with the third battle, if necessary, Saturday at the Pantherette field.

North has been solid all year, losing to some fine teams early on such as Los Fresnos and San Benito, and then rocketing through the league slate with a 12-2 mark. The Lady Coogs (25-6) have already beaten Weslaco twice, in a week's span back in February.

In a 4-1 win Feb. 18 Claire Garcia got two of the team's four hits, and then Feb. 25 Annie Badillo threw a shutout against the Pantherettes and Cynthia Granado got the game-winning hit in a 1-0 triumph.

In taking second place in 31-5A, North scored almost 10 per game (135 runs in 14 league games) and surrendered just 51, topping 10 runs seven times and shutting out four opponents.

With their all-star infield of 2B Vanessa Salazar plus Garcia and Granado pairing with catcher Victoria Cardenas, the Lady Coogs come into the postseason ranked No. 4 in the Valley. They face a Weslaco squad that is unspectacular but consistent, at 18-9 overall and a third-place rank in District 32-5A.

Meanwhile, the champion Lady Bobcats have been on a punishing role as of late, having scored 52 runs in three games and allowing just three before Friday's 4-2 championship-clinching win at South. For the 31-5A year, EHS scored 143 runs and allowed a paltry 24, with its only loss coming by a run to North, 7-6.

After plating 10 or more runs seven times in district, the Valley's No. 1-ranked unit squares off with a Hanna group that came home fourth in 32-5A. The Lady Eagles got hot late to clinch a playoff spot, but have an overall record around .500 at 16-13.

Earlier in the season, EHS pounded Hanna 10-1, Feb. 22 in Brownsville. However, the Lady Eagles beat Mission twice and also knocked off Weslaco, Harlingen, La Joya, and Mercedes, playoff teams all.

Catcher Sara Ortiz leads the way for the club, with 27 RBI and a .419 average, while senior infielder Dafne Martinez has six doubles and 16 RBI. Hanna uses two pitchers and neither is a world-beater; soph Jacque Gonzalez is the top hurler with a 2.55 ERA. Look for the Lady ‘Cats to lay into that staff from the start.

Last year EHS went four-deep in the state playoffs for the program's best season ever, while North missed the postseason for only the second time in 12 campaigns. After finishing one-two in the loop in 2011, they both have a shot at making the deep rounds.

EHS has the one-two pitching combination of Myranda Hinojosa and Sammy Arciba, which means it will be looking to win the flip and probably opt for a 3-game series when at all possible. North has an ace in Annie Badillo but no second starter, so the Lady Coogs may well lean toward the one-game shot as they progress.

Looking down the road, with a first-round win EHS would draw the winner of the bi-district series matching Sharyland and Laredo United. If the Lady ‘Cats advance to the third round, chances are they are staring at a showdown against a 22-1 Eagle Pass group that is among the best in the region.

North has an equally tough road, with McAllen High the likely second-round foe and then almost assuredly San Benito in Round Three. But the traditionally strong program also heads to the postseason with the best playoff record of any city school in history.Version:1.0 StartHTML:0000000167 EndHTML:0000005862 StartFragment:0000000457 EndFragment:0000005846

As the softball playoffs begin this week, two city schools have first-round matchups from which they will be the favorites to advance. District 31-5A champ EHS (23-3) is pitted against Brownsville Hanna while runner-up North (25-6) takes on Weslaco.

Significantly, both local teams have defeated their bi-district foes in 2011. The playoff action begins Thursday with North at home against Weslaco and continues Friday with EHS at home versus Hanna. The Lady Coogs will travel to Weslaco for Game Two Friday with the third battle, if necessary, Saturday at the Pantherette field.

North has been solid all year, losing to some fine teams early on such as Los Fresnos and San Benito, and then rocketing through the league slate with a 12-2 mark. The Lady Coogs (25-6) have already beaten Weslaco twice, in a week’s span back in February.

In a 4-1 win Feb. 18 Claire Garcia got two of the team’s four hits, and then Feb. 25 Annie Badillo threw a shutout against the Pantherettes and Cynthia Granado got the game-winning hit in a 1-0 triumph.

In taking second place in 31-5A, North scored almost 10 per game (135 runs in 14 league games) and surrendered just 51, topping 10 runs seven times and shutting out four opponents.

With their all-star infield of 2B Vanessa Salazar plus Garcia and Granado pairing with catcher Victoria Cardenas, the Lady Coogs come into the postseason ranked No. 4 in the Valley. They face a Weslaco squad that is unspectacular but consistent, at 18-9 overall and a third-place rank in District 32-5A.

Meanwhile, the champion Lady Bobcats have been on a punishing role as of late, having scored 52 runs in three games and allowing just three before Friday’s 4-2 championship-clinching win at South. For the 31-5A year, EHS scored 143 runs and allowed a paltry 24, with its only loss coming by a run to North, 7-6.

After plating 10 or more runs seven times in district, the Valley’s No. 1-ranked unit squares off with a Hanna group that came home fourth in 32-5A. The Lady Eagles got hot late to clinch a playoff spot, but have an overall record around .500 at 16-13.

Earlier in the season, EHS pounded Hanna 10-1, Feb. 22 in Brownsville. However, the Lady Eagles beat Mission twice and also knocked off Weslaco, Harlingen, La Joya, and Mercedes, playoff teams all.

Catcher Sara Ortiz leads the way for the club, with 27 RBI and a .419 average, while senior infielder Dafne Martinez has six doubles and 16 RBI. Hanna uses two pitchers and neither is a world-beater; soph Jacque Gonzalez is the top hurler with a 2.55 ERA. Look for the Lady ‘Cats to lay into that staff from the start.

Last year EHS went four-deep in the state playoffs for the program’s best season ever, while North missed the postseason for only the second time in 12 campaigns. After finishing one-two in the loop in 2011, they both have a shot at making the deep rounds.

EHS has the one-two pitching combination of Myranda Hinojosa and Sammy Arciba, which means it will be looking to win the flip and probably opt for a 3-game series when at all possible. North has an ace in Annie Badillo but no second starter, so the Lady Coogs may well lean toward the one-game shot as they progress.

Looking down the road, with a first-round win EHS would draw the winner of the bi-district series matching Sharyland and Laredo United. If the Lady ‘Cats advance to the third round, chances are they are staring at a showdown against a 22-1 Eagle Pass group that is among the best in the region.

North has an equally tough road, with McAllen High the likely second-round foe and then almost assuredly San Benito in Round Three. But the traditionally strong program also heads to the postseason with the best playoff record of any city school in history