Homedale fell shy of a second straight title last season, falling to Filer 14-9 after forcing an if-necessary 3A state championship game.
But the Trojans (25-1) are loaded for another state title run, and that near-miss has fueled them all season.
“The girls were definitely upset with the fact we got second last year,” coach Larry Corta said.
Corta said Homedale put too much pressure on itself as the defending state champion. But coming in as the runner-up this time, the Trojans are able to relax, he said.
Homedale opens state against Snake River (15-3) at noon Friday at Ramsey Park in Coeur d’Alene.
A trio of sluggers have led Homedale all season. Senior shortstop and leadoff hitter Elise Shenk set a school single-season record with 12 home runs while hitting .478. Junior center fielder Gardenia Machuca is hitting .525 with eight home runs and 56 RBIs, and senior catcher Tori Nash leads the team with a .602 batting average.
“We’re hitting pretty well. Hopefully, that will continue, knock on wood,” said Corta, whose team averages 13.5 runs a game.
Homedale dropped its only game this season at Emmett 4-3 on April 10. The Trojans have won 11 straight since then, including a 4-3 victory over Emmett in the district championship game.
Emmett (18-3) looms on the opposite side of the bracket and opens state against Filer at noon Friday.
FRUITLAND BACK IN 3A BASEBALL FIELD
The calendar turns to May and you can count on one thing — Fruitland baseball at state.
The Grizzlies won their 10th straight district title last week and return to state for the 10th year in a row searching for their 10th consecutive trophy. They have yet to finish worse than third in their previous nine trips, winning five titles, reaching the finals seven times and finishing third twice.
But a new foe will join the defending champs at Treasure Valley CC in Ontario, Ore. — Emmett, which is making its first trip to the 3A state tournament since 1998.
Emmett won what was then known as the A-2 title over Vallivue and has qualified for only one other state tournament since — in 2013 when it fell to Bishop Kelly in the 4A third-place game.
The Huskies (11-8) open state against Shelley (14-4) at 1 p.m. Thursday. Fruitland (16-8) concludes the first day against Filer at 7 p.m.
The Panthers boys and girls teams won last year’s 3A team titles and are in position to repeat after winning district last week.
State is Friday and Saturday at Vallivue and Caldwell high schools. The championship matches are 2 p.m. Saturday at Vallivue.
Reigning boys singles champion Tanner Kramer of Parma returns, looking to avenge a district loss to Fruitland’s Kooper Crow. Parma’s Madison Beck, who finished second at state in girls singles in 2014, is the No. 1 seed out of District Three.
Parma also got district titles from Keagan Brixey and Cristian Gilbert in boys doubles, Kailee Laub and Raely Irish in girls doubles, and Lauren Smyser and Parker Lewis in mixed doubles. The Panthers qualified three athletes in boys singles, two in girls singles, two boys doubles teams, two girls doubles teams and two mixed doubles teams.
MELBA CROSS COUNTRY
Senior Sierra Manzer won the 2A/1A individual girls state cross country title in the fall, and she is among the favorites to win the 800 meters, 1,600 and 3,200 at the track and field meet Friday and Saturday at Middleton.
Manzer won all three distance races at last week’s 2A District Three meet and is the No. 1 seed at state in the 1,600 (5:21.96) and 3,200 (11:26.07). She has the second fastest time among the 800 entries at 2:23.70. Manzer is the only 2A runner in the field to eclipse 12 minutes in the 3,200. Her closest competitor is more than 1 minute behind. Manzer also runs a leg on Melba’s 4x400 relay.
Last year, Manzer took third in the 1,600 and 3,200 and ninth in the 800.
BOISE STATE COMMIT
Grangeville senior Drew Lindsley has the best discus throw in the state among all classifications. His toss of 182 feet, 2 inches — a school record — also ranks among the top 30 in the nation, according to dyestat.com.
His mark would be good enough to break the 2A classification meet record of 177-08, which was set by Grangeville’s Matt Hill in 1997.
BUSY AT TRACK
• Challis senior Hannah Cain won the girls 100 meters, 200 and 400 at last year’s 1A state track and field meet, and the senior is poised to win three more golds in 2015. She has the fastest times in all three events - 100 (12.54) , 200 (26.11) and 400 (1:00.05).
A quad injury kept Cain out of the district meet, and she had to get hardship approval from the IHSAA to compete at state, according to the (Idaho Falls) Post Register.
• Logos senior Paul Ryan ran to wins in the boys 800, 1,600 and 3,200 at last year’s 1A state meet. He is trying for his third straight win in the 3,200 and is adding the 400 meters to his schedule. He is seeded first in all four events.
Ryan ranks among the top three in the state regardless of classification in the 800 (No. 1, 1:51.38), 1,600 (No. 3, 4:11.69) and 3,200 (No. 2, 9:02.06).