Art Banks has had some impressive teams during his 30 years coaching varsity softball.
At Roseville, Banks coached arguably one of the area's greatest teams in 1990 when Karen Jackson and Kim Gonzalez led the Tigers to a 37-2 record and the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship.
In a three-year span at Woodcreek, beginning in 2004, his teams won two consecutive Division II section titles and were 83-20 behind three-time Bee All-Metro pitcher and 2005 Player of the Year Amanda Eccleston.
And it looks like Banks has another top team this season.
Woodcreek's 9-0 start includes an eye-popping 10-1 victory over defending Division I champion Sheldon.
Woodcreek, the No. 1 team in The Bee's first top 20 rankings, also is ranked No. 7 nationally and third in the state by Maxpreps.com and No. 7 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports.
The Timberwolves, who have outscored opponents 51-3, posted their sixth shutout in a 3-0 win over Granite Bay in Monday's Sierra Foothill League opener.
It was Banks' 595th win.
"It's been the kids over the years," said Banks, whose team beat Rocklin 3-1 on Tuesday. "I've been blessed with some good teams, and we have another pretty good one this year. They play real hard."
The Timberwolves are expected to challenge defending champion and No. 5 Del Oro and No. 12 Roseville for the league title, which Woodcreek hasn't won since 2007.
Senior shortstop Paige Davis (.554, six RBIs), a four-year varsity player, is off to a strong start. Juniors Amanda Horbasch (5-0, 0.00 ERA) and Lexi Wilkerson (3-0, 0.32 ERA) lead on the mound.
"We have a lot of talent, but we have to play well every game," Banks said. "Our league is very competitive."
Another dream team? "New Year, New Team, Same Dream" is No. 2 Sheldon's motto as it seeks its fifth section title and second in a row under coach Mary Jo Truesdale.
Pitcher Alexis Cooper (Arizona State), catcher MeShalon Moore (UC Santa Barbara) and center fielder Danielle Wiltz (Nevada), all seniors, have signed scholarships, and sophomore shortstop Anessa Kaylor, an Elk Grove transfer, has verbally committed to San Jose State.
Other returning starters are sophomore second baseman Zamari Hinton, junior outfielder Erika Lane and senior first baseman Nikki Miles. Also back is senior outfielder Amber Glenn, who missed last season while recovering from injuries suffered in an auto accident.
All grown up The core of No. 7 Cosumnes Oaks' senior-led team has played varsity together since they were freshmen, when the newest Elk Grove district school opened.
Senior infielder Taylor McClanahan, a captain as a freshman, has signed with Saint Mary's.
Coach Lynda Bettencourt expects senior middle infielders Karyna Scott and Briana Pamplona to eventually earn college scholarships, too.
And freshman catcher Sabryna Scott is being recruited by Tennessee and Cal, Bettencourt's alma mater.
Something to prove Losing 9-2 to Benicia in the first round of the Division III section playoffs last spring after winning four consecutive Division IV titles was a huge downer for a Bear River program used to nothing but success under veteran coach Duane Zauner, who entered this season with 323 wins.
Shortstop Stephanie Ceo and catcher Alyssa Reina, both Bee All-Metro first-team players as juniors, return for the No. 16 Bruins. Ceo has signed with Texas; Reina with North Dakota.
Senior Erin Nichol, who pitched sparingly last season (knee injury), is healthy again and joins returning senior starter Maddie Phelps.
Marvelous in Metro Rosemont is off to a 2-3 start, but things should pick up today when the Wolverines play at McClatchy in their Metro Conference opener.
Coach Bill Kapp's Wolverines are three-time defending Metro champions and 43-1 in league the past three seasons.
Kapp also returns the reigning Metro Conference Player of the Year, senior pitcher Aleshia Ayers (16-3, 1.46 ERA), who has signed with Villanova.
THE BEE'S TOP 20
Records through Monday
|3. Del Campo||5-0-1|
|4. St. Francis||6-1|
|5. Del Oro||4-1-2|
|6. Pleasant Grove||6-3|
|7. Cosumnes Oaks||5-2-1|
|9. Elk Grove||6-3-1|
|11. Casa Roble||4-2|
|16. Bear River||3-4|
|17. Christian Brothers||7-5|
|20. Granite Bay||4-1|