A juggernaut in the 5A Southern Idaho Conference, Eagle has dominated during its 14-0 start, outscoring opponents 157-11 while 10-running six of its 13 foes thus far. It entered the season as a heavy favorite, receiving 9-of-10 first-place votes in a 5A SIC softball preseason coaches poll. But other teams will have plenty to say before the seasons are over. A look at 5A and 4A softball:
No team has finished any closer than six runs against Eagle, which has yet to surrender more than three runs in a game this season. The Mustangs finished short of a trophy at last year’s state tournament, but at their current pace, it’s hard to imagine they’ll finish shy of hardware.
Here is a breakdown of each 5A SIC team, ordered by the results of the coaches’ poll and with first-place votes in parenthesis.
1. EAGLE (9)
The Mustangs are off to a 14-0 start behind three college commits — Bradie Fillmore (Cal), Autumn Moffat (BYU) and Bentli Corta (College of Idaho).
2. ROCKY MOUNTAIN
The Grizzlies return seven of nine starters, including a pair of potent hitters in outfielder Courtney Pestka (Weber State commit) and catcher Maddy Smith.
3. MOUNTAIN VIEW (1)
The defending state champs bring up nine players new to varsity. But Kylie Orr remains a feared bat in the middle of the order.
Nine players with two straight trips to state under their belt return, including the Braves’ top two pitchers, Elena and Trinity Cook.
An emphasis on playing summer ball has increased individual experience. But as a group, the Eagles are still trying to put it all together.
A pair of threatening bats live up the middle in second baseman and Northwest Nazarene commit Shelbie Martinez (.909 slugging percentage in ’14) and shortstop Lexi Knauss (.808 slugging).
The Falcons return their entire outfield but have to replace four-year starting pitcher Ali Longoria.
The Patriots have jumped from 4.8 runs scored a game a year ago to 9.0 this season and have already tied last year’s win total with five.
The Lions return only three starters — Aubree Hessing, Michal Bilger and Malia Dustin.
John Stegmaier takes over the program after it struggled to a last-place finish last year at 2-18.
Freshman pitcher Kay Hibbard has impressed early in the season. But she and the rest of the team are thrown into the fire in their first year at 5A.
After a 2-17 season at 4A last year, the Wildcats make the jump to the 5A level.
Predicting the Treasure Valley’s 4A conference, which had won nine straight state titles until last season, was next to impossible in the coaches’ poll. Kuna edged Bishop Kelly and Middleton for the top spot by one point each. But Middleton’s sweep of Kuna and a win over Bishop Kelly last week gives it a commanding early lead.
1. KUNA (2)
The Kavemen hope pitcher Nicole Arizana, the reigning 4A SIC player of the year and an NNU commit, returns soon from a hamstring injury.
t-2. BISHOP KELLY (2)
Last year’s state runner-up returns three first-team all conference members — pitcher Emily Baca, outfielder Delaney Atkins and utility Emily Twohig.
t-2. MIDDLETON (2)
The Vikings return seven starters as they search for their first state tournament appearance as a 4A program.
The Hawks possess four players with home run power, including junior Kaylee Van Hooser, who hit seven last season.
The Cougars lost their entire infield and pitching staff to graduation. An experienced outfield will have to carry them early.
6. MOUNTAIN HOME
Senior utility Taylor Reed (.410 average in ’14) and senior shortstop Maeghan Pomerantz will lead a group short on experience.