It's hard to believe, but the high school softball season will be over in just a few short weeks.

There's been a good mix of traditionally rich programs succeeding once again in 2011, along with a mix of newcomers who have turned the corner.

For now, we'll focus on teams that have provided a pleasant surprise this season.

The Mission Bulldogs failed to advance to state last year after falling at the Western B-C Divisional Tournament. But they came back this season with vengeance on their mind and anger in their blood. Mission has clearly established themselves as a force to be reckoned with, as evidenced by their victory over Loyola earlier this season. The Bulldogs and Breakers are currently tied for second place in the conference.

Along those same lines, the Ronan Maidens have always played the role of spoiler and gotten one or two upset victories in years past. Ronan started this season off in similar fashion, but then something happened; the Maidens kept winning. Now Ronan is in a position to clinch one of the Northwestern A's three postseason berths and showcase their talents at state.

Finally, the Southwestern A conference has been a two-horse race between Frenchtown and Corvallis for a shade under a decade. The Anaconda Copperheads, though, have ascended to second place in the standings. With a win tonight out in Frenchtown, and the 'Heads would have first place all to themselves.