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2023 Idaho High School State Softball Preview
The teams, players, coaches and storylines you need to keep your eye on as the softball season unfolds
Published: 3/20/2023 2:26:00 PM
Brandon Baney
Managing Editor/Broadcaster


Mother Nature led to a bumpy start of the 2023 softball season in Idaho.  Teams up north and in east Idaho finally competed for the first time this past weekend, while even the typically balmy Treasure Valley had a slew of games wiped out due to inclement weather.  But now most teams have had at least one game under their belts, which gives us an opportunity to break down all of the teams, races and players to watch this year on the field.


The biggest question at Idaho's largest classification level is this: who takes advantage now that perennial juggernaut Skyview has moved down to 4A?

The simplest answer appears to be Owyhee or Eagle.  They were the only teams to defeat Skyview a year ago, and Owyhee's win came in the championship round of the 5A State Tournament.  The Storm picked up a 5-4 win to set up a second, winner-take-all title tilt, where they ultimately fell, 9-4.  

Further fueling the fire is the fact that Owyhee didn't have any seniors on last year's team.  That means players like Samantha Hatzenbeller (.471 batting average, 12 home runs, 42 RBIs), Rylie Haith (.533 average, 8 home runs, 55 RBIs) and Sobella Malliarodakis (.477 average, 32 RBIs) are all back.  Hatzenbeller was also Owyhee's best pitcher a year ago, compiling a 10-3 record with 97 strikeouts.

Eagle similarly had a young team last year, but the few graduation hits they took were significant.  Gone is Sydney Groves, who posted an astronomical stat line of a .667 batting average with 20 home runs.  Libby Dennis and Brynna Gestrin also graduated, but the cupboard isn't bare.  Lizzy Tommasini hit .505 for the Mustangs and was Eagle's best pitcher in the circle a year ago.  She'll be flanked by Grace Hein, Peyton Bargen and Emry Woods in what promises to be a challenging lineup.

Timberline and Capital also qualified for state a year ago from the Southern Idaho Conference, but both must replace star pitchers in Amber Thornton (Timberline) and Allie Laufenburger (Capital).  Both teams have the bats to withstand those losses.  Sophomores Mallorie Casch and Ashlyn Graklanoff will lead Timberline, while senior Penny-Lew Barnett will key the Capital attack.

Elsewhere in District 3, Borah boasts one of the best pitchers in Megan Meracle, while Rocky Mountain, Mountain View and Kuna appear poised to break through.  Boise, Centennial and Meridian are fighting to improve on sub-,500 records from a year ago, while Middleton and Nampa are the true wild cards after moving up from the Class 4A ranks.  Middleton, in particular, has boasted a strong program in the past.

Up north, Coeur d'Alene is a heavy favorite to repeat as District 1-2 champs, as just two seniors left last year's 19-4 squad.  Senior Matea Dorame hit .514 for the Vikings a year ago, while fellow seniors Catherin Bakken and Delaney Gosch also hit north of .400.  There wasn't much power on last year's Coeur d'Alene squad, so coach Bobbi Daretta will rely on solid pitching from senior Kristine Schmidt, good defense and solid baserunning to have success again.

Lewiston came painstakingly close to advancing to state a year ago, but fell 2-1 to Timberline in a state tournament play-in game.  The Bengals did lose one of three Barney sisters, as Taryn Barney graduated, but senior Loryn and sophomore Jenna are back to lead the Bengals in 2023.  Jenna Barney, in particular, will be important, as she will take on a majority of the pitching load after Kaitlin Banks graduated.

Post Falls went 16-8 last year under first year coach Katy Sinn.  Junior Katie Berg will be charged with leading a young roster that features ten sophomores and freshmen.  Lake City is trying to turn the page after a 5-20 record a year ago.

In District 5-6, Highland and Thunder Ridge survived what was a tough conference race to advance to state last season.  The Rams did lose a lot of talented seniors to graduation but they return the battery duo of pitcher Marissa Mauger and catcher Jenna Kearns.  Kearns hit .589 a year ago, while Mauger batted .452.  The Thunder Ridge Titans will be led by seniors Emily Jones, Kaliann Scoresby and Nekysa Wright in 2023.

Rigby and Madison both challenged at times a year ago in District 5-6, and will have a chance to work their way into the top half of the league this season.


2022 was the Year of the Hawk, as Skyview romped to a 30-2 overall record and the 5A state championship.  And just like that, thanks to dropping enrollment numbers, the Hawks are back at the 4A level, to the delight of 5A coaches and the chagrin of 4A skippers everywhere.

It's true that Skyview did lose several talented playmakers to graduation, including two-time Gatorade Player of the Year Delaney Keith.  But it's also true that a number of contributors return, including seniors Rayann Brown (.447 batting average last year), Marae Holloway (.376 average), and Analisa Zamora (11 home runs and a 9-1 pitching record).

Their toughest competition could come from a team within their own district.  Bishop Kelly is the defending 4A state champion, and the Bomber Brigade has plenty of thumpers back to anchor this year's lineup.  As a team, the Knights crushed 71 home runs in 2022.  Senior Harper Campanella slugged nine homers to go along with 50 RBIs and a .507 average a year ago.  She's flanked by seniors Faith Nichols and Aspen Newman, along with junior Ava Armuth.  Nichols will also serve as the ace of BK's staff, as she logged a 6-2 record with a 2.93 ERA a year ago.

Vallivue claimed second at state a year ago, but said goodbye to several talented playmakers in the offseason.  Emmett, conversely, was 19-6-1 a year ago, and lost only four seniors to graduation.  Junior Harper Goodwin hit .475 for the Huskies in 2022.  Ridgevue, Caldwell and Columbia are all looking to turn the corner in District 3 after sub-.500 seasons a year ago.

In District 4, Twin Falls came within an eyelash of competing for the state title last year, but back-to-back losses to Bishop Kelly and Vallivue on Saturday at state netted the Bruins third place overall.  Twin Falls brings back several key pieces of last year's trophy-winning team, including pitchers Sydney McMurdie and Kindal Holcomb, and on-base threat Kadence Boyd.  

Upstart Jerome entered districts as the four seed a year ago, and leapfrogged both Wood River and Mountain Home to earn District 4's second bid at state.  The Tigers list just ten players on this year's roster, but have several talented playmakers like Austumn Allen, Emma Allen and Macy Miller. 

Mountain Home lost senior standouts Regan McDaniel, Reece Floyd and Avery Berry to graduation, but bring back several sophomores that saw extended action in their freshman seasons.  Likewise, Wood River's best player a year ago was sophomore Makinzie Nelson, who hit .684 with 37 RBIs as a freshman.  Burley, Canyon Ridge and Minico all have potential to break into the upper half of the District 4 standings this year, as well.

Lakeland came into state as the number eight seed overall last year after winning the District 1-2 title.  After falling to Bishop Kelly in the opening round, the Hawks snapped off wins over Blackfoot and Pocatello to qualify for the fourth place game against Vallivue.  The Hawks' magic ran out against the Falcons, but that run laid the groundwork for 2023.  Lakeland will be relying on four freshman this year along with a good group of juniors.  Senior Berkley Ogieglo is the only senior for Lakeland.

Moscow came close to taking the District 1-2 championship last year, but lost a 16-15 slugfest to Lakeland to end their season in the district championship series.  Sandpoint will also try to improve after a 2-19 season a year ago.

In East Idaho, Pocatello, Blackfoot and Hillcrest all qualified for state a year ago.  Pocatello welcomes back senior Anna Campbell and her .506 batting average.  Carlee Smith will key the Blackfoot attack in 2023.  The Knights are led by a trio of junior captains in Jerzey Jarvis, Jaycee Jacobson and Hallie Causey.  

Keep an eye on Idaho Falls, as the Tigers return to the Class 4A ranks after a brief journey to 5A competition.  Seniors Calyn Wood and Kara Stohl will lead a Tigers team that could surprise this year.

In District 6, Bonneville, Skyline and Shelley will try to challenge for a top spot in the league, while Century can't be overlooked in District 5.  The Diamondbacks historically have been a strong program.  Preston is young and will be fun to watch develop throughout the season in District 5 as well.


The 3A State Tournament was one of the most exciting a year ago.  After suffering a 12-6 defeat to Weiser in the undefeated game at state, Homedale battled back on Saturday to defeat Buhl for third place, and then knocked off the Wolverines in back-to-back games to claim the championship.  And the 3A race could be decided between the District 3 rivals once again.

The Trojans bring back their top six hitters from a year ago (Olivia Asumendi, Zayne Hall, Katie Christofferson, Lilly Trescot, Dani Sitts and Isana Larzelier).  Asumendi, Sitts and Hall comprised the Homedale pitching staff last year, as well.

Weiser, meanwhile, welcomes back their top four hitters from 2022 (Tobie and Paisley Noyer, Abi Wilkins and Grace Swank).  Paisley Noyer was Weiser's number two starting pitcher a year ago, but staff ace Whitney Cordes graduated.  Tobie Noyer may have to twirl more innings this year to compensate.

Payette just missed out on state a year ago, settling for third place in District 3 and a 17-10 overall record.  Jordan Barrett and Shannon Christensen are the only seniors on a younger Pirates team this year.  McCall-Donnelly, Fruitland, and Parma will all be breathing down Payette's neck in the race to finish in the top half of the conference standings.

Buhl took home the third place trophy from state last season, but barely survived the rough-and-tumble Sawtooth Central Idaho Conference.  Kimberly, Filer, Gooding and Buhl all took turns beating up on each other a year ago, and will probably do the same again this year.  Every single team has solid leadership.  Players to keep an eye on include Meghan Montgomery and Jenna Ambrose of Buhl, Jasmine Earl and Kamrin Barnes of Filer, Morgan Durham of Gooding, and Maci Dille and Mallory Kelsey of Kimberly.

Timberlake has ruled the north for awhile now, and with just Bonners Ferry standing in their way in the District 1 race this year, the Tigers are favorites once again.  Coach Casi Lupinacci has no shortage of veteran players (Logan Walsh, Acacia Pecor, Ashley Grantham, Tapanga Rojas, etc.) to lean on.  Bonners Ferry will be led by team captain Kaylee Sumpter, the only senior on the team.

Marsh Valley steamrolled to the District 5 title a year ago, grabbed the number two seed overall at state, and surprisingly went two-and-out.  The Eagles only lost two seniors to graduation, though, and bring back their top hitter (Camri Campbell) and pitcher (Libbie Larsen) this year.  Snake River and American Falls will push Marsh Valley, but the District 5 title still runs through Arimo, at least for this season.

South Fremont represented District 6 at last year's state tournament, and drew the number seven seed overall.  A first round win over Marsh Valley set the tone for a top-four finish for the Cougars, as South Fremont made it to Saturday before bowing out to Buhl and taking fourth place.  Like Marsh Valley, South Fremont returns the nucleus of their team, and will lean on seniors Berkley Yancey, Kallie Johnson and Haylie Angell among others.  Sugar-Salem finished right around .500 a year ago, and are hoping to climb higher in the standings, while Teton features a roster with no seniors.


The 2A state softball championship was an all-east Idaho affair in 2022, with Malad winning the title over West Jefferson.  Both of those teams enter 2023 as the favorites again in Districts 5 and 6, respectively. 

A strong group of sophomores and juniors at Malad, led by Riglee Peterson, Bostyn Combs, Kaitlyn Pickett and Hallie Horsley will pace the Dragons offense, while Peterson also returns to the pitcher's circle after finishing 16-1 with a 1.12 ERA a year ago.

As for West Jefferson, coach Raquel Torgerson will lean on her daughter, senior Jordyn Torgerson at the plate and in the pitcher's circle.  Fellow senior Shilo Egan will also help lead the Panthers in 2023.

But other threats await in the east, specifically West Side and North Fremont.  The Huskies boast strong pitching behind Alyssa Hill, and a solid blend of hitters, including Emrie Lenz, Rylee Mecham and Grace Heiner.  West Side has five seniors to work with this year, and will be lead by Julie Jensen, Laney Beckstead and Sami Roberts.

Firth, Challis-Mackay-Butte County, and Bear Lake also have potential to break through, while Salmon, Ririe and Soda Springs are looking towards improvement after struggling in 2022.

St. Maries has been the top team from District 1-2 the past couple of seasons, but Kellogg, a 3A state qualifier a year ago, could challenge after dropping down a classification level.  The Lumberjacks boast one of Idaho's best pitchers, regardless of classification, in senior Taci Watkins.  Watkins went 13-2 a year ago with a 0.50 ERA and 226 strikeouts.  Kellogg will be led by Macy Jerome, while Orofino could threaten as well.

In District 3, New Plymouth, Melba and Nampa Christian qualified for state.  Veteran coach Sam Crockett has plenty of talented returners at New Plymouth, including Ava Shaw and Jewel Bell.  Melba has only three seniors (Kenzy Stradley, Addison Franklin and Winter Hansen) on this year's squad.  And Nampa Christian has a strong group of upperclassmen ready to contribute, including Payton Davy, Quincy Hartley and Aly Marion.  Cole Valley Christian and Marsing have potential in District 3, as well.

Declo defeated Wendell in the two-team Canyon Conference last year to represent District 4 at state.  A lot of the same athletes that helped Declo qualify for state in girls basketball (Brynn Silcock, Lilly Mallory, Katelynn Koyle, etc.) will try to accomplish the same in softball.


A rain-soaked 2022 state tournament ended with Potlatch besting Genesee in all-Whitepine League final.  The Loggers have been one of the most consistent 1A programs over the past few seasons, and coach Dean Butterfield did say goodbye to senior captains Rebecca Butterfield and Emma Chambers, but Josie Larsen, Allison Akins and Tayva McKinney are ready to take the mantle.  As long as the pitching develops, Potlatch will be right back in the mix again.

Genesee, meanwhile, didn't have a single senior on last year's team, which means everyone is back.  Shelby Hanson will be one of the team's best hitters, while Riley Leseman will lead the pitching staff.  

Clearwater Valley, Kendrick and Prairie all fought for the Whitepine's third bid to state a year ago, and the Tigers ultimately won out.  Kendrick will be led by Hailey Taylor, Harley Heimgartner, and Deary's Madelyn Proctor and Kenadie Kirk.  The Mustangs co-op with Kendrick for softball.  Prairie returns Tara Schlader, Riley Enneking and Ember Martin, while Clearwater Valley features the battery duo of pitcher Jessica Ketola and catcher Rayne Martinez.  Lapwai, Troy and Lewis County will try to move up in the standings after sub-.500 years in 2023.

The only other District to hold softball at the 1A level is District 3.  The league features reigning champ Notus, and also borrows Glenns Ferry and Lighthouse Christian from District 4.  Senior Lexi Cudaback led Notus at the plate and in the circle last year, while Glenns Ferry returns Kambelle King.  Greenleaf Friends also qualified for state from District 3 a year ago, but the Grizzlies are struggling with overall numbers this year.

If Greenleaf doesn't have the numbers to compete, Rimrock, Wilder, Idaho City, Horseshoe Bend and Garden Valley are waiting to pounce.  Lighthouse Christian, in just its second year of softball overall, will also try to improve in year two.

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