Spring sports are off to their typical rainy start. The only surprise is that the forecast doesn't call for snow later this week -- it's almost become a tradition for snow the week of the season's first baseball game.
Gotta love North Carolina weather.
But you don't have to love the latest spring sports trend for Tri-Nine teams, regardless of sport -- your season opener is your conference opener. That leaves no time for a "slow start" if you want to win the conference, and which team gels the fastest could be the difference in having a playoff berth or not.
Let's get to my picks for all 8 spring sports. But first:
Baseball (top 5 have playoff berths): After the talent I saw this summer in the scholastic league, I've got to go with Fuquay-Varina first. Following that is honestly anyone's guess. But these are predictions so I must give it a whirl: Athens Drive second, Green Hope third, Apex fourth and Holly Springs in fifth as the last playoff team. Area preview for baseball.
Softball (top 5 have playoff berths): I'm thinking another tie for first between Holly Springs and Fuquay-Varina. If I have to pick one over the other, it's Holly Springs ahead of Fuquay. The following three playoff teams should be Lee County (3rd), Green Hope (4th) and Middle Creek (5th). Area preview for softball.
Girls soccer (top 5 have playoff berths): As you can probably tell by the preview, this is going to be a heck of a year for the Tri-Nine. Every playoff team brings back almost all of its start players. It's going to be fun to watch, and makes it a lot easier to predict -- I'm picking just about the same as last year: Green Hope-1, Apex-2, Holly Springs-3, Panther Creek-4, Cary-5. Area preview for girls soccer.
Boys Lacrosse (two 2 have playoff berths): Cardinal Gibbons joining the league makes this tough. I've got Apex-1, Gibbons-2. And I'm thinking Holly Springs and Athens Drive emerge with wild-cards for the postseason. Area preview for boys lacrosse.
Girls Lacrosse (two 2 have playoff berths): This is the year for Green Hope. I've got them just ahead of Apex. Athens Drive joins the league this year and I think they should contend with Panther Creek for a wild-card playoff spot. Area preview for girls lacrosse.
Boys Tennis (top 2 have playoff berths): Green Hope is the clear favorite, and I've got Apex second just because Apex is almost always second or first when it comes to boys tennis in recent years. Area preview for boys tennis.
Boys golf: Green Hope should win the conference with all of its returning players. Holly Springs could take second again. Area preview for boys golf.
Track & Field: Fuquay-Varina boys and Green Hope girls seem poised for Tri-Nine titles. But as always, it takes a full team of good 5th-6th-7th placers to win the title, not just a few titles. Area preview for track & field.