The 4A Southern Idaho Conference has been the seat of power since the 4A classification started. Since 2001, the league has won 13-of-15 state titles, and 26 of the 30 teams in the state championship game hailed from the Boise area. The only question is who will emerge from the ultra competitive league?
PLAYER TO WATCH
Gabi Harrington, sr., SS, Bishop Kelly
Known for her basketball prowess — she’s signed with Montana — Harrington is also a five-tool threat on the diamond. With a young lineup around her, she’ll be asked to carry the offense.
“(She) has always been a difficult out for us,” Skyview coach Steven Michaelson said. “She demands the pitcher’s best every at bat or else she’ll make them pay.”
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BISHOP KELLY KNIGHTS
Coach: Judy Crandell, second season
Last year: 22-9, 11-4 4A SIC
Returning all-conference: Gabi Harrington, sr., SS (first team); Emily Baca, sr., P/OF (second team); Sheridan Meyer, sr., 1B (second team)
Breakdown: The defending state and district champ lost its entire outfield and most of its offensive production to graduation, and then it lost catcher Jenny Falkner to an injury. Harrington and Baca remain threats in the field and at the plate. The Knights have reached the state finals three years in a row.
Coach: Erin Lokteff, second season
Last year: 6-21, 2-13 4A SIC
Returning all-conference: None
Breakdown: The Cougars field an enviable amount of experience with six returning starters. Lokteff said Caldwell will feature a speedy outfield, but the search for an ace pitcher continues for a program short on them in recent years.
Coach: Joe Kleffner, 18th season
Last year: 25-10, 10-5 4A SIC
Returning all-conference: Ivy Hommell, sr., SS (first team); Rylee Newman, jr., P/INF (first team); Kaci Marshall, jr., INF (honorable mention)
Breakdown: Kuna must move on from the Nicole Arizana era, leaving a hole the Kavemen’s lineup and in the pitcher’s circle. But while Kuna remains young, Kleffner said it remains strong on defense, and Newman provides a big bat.
Coach: Rob Kiser, fourth season
Last year: 20-6, 14-1 4A SIC
Returning all-conference: Aleah Mendiola, jr., 2B (first team); Sage Huggins, jr., SS (second team); Ellinora Conley, sr., C (second team)
Breakdown: The league’s reigning regular-season champ lost Aubrey Creekmore, the league’s player of the year, to graduation and Idaho State. But while the Vikings are young, they field plenty of talent and firepower at the plate. Freshman pitcher Lainey Lyle has impressed early in the season.
MOUNTAIN HOME TIGERS
Coach: Ron Nicolosi, third season
Last year: 1-21, 1-14 4A SIC
Returning all-conference: None
Breakdown: Graduation and an injury to sophomore catcher Tialynn Salle leave the Tigers with just two seniors with significant varsity experience. Nicolosi said his team is faster on the bases and in the field. “When this team matures mentally with the game, they will have the ability to compete well within the conference,” he said.
Coach: Steven Michaelson, second season
Last year: 12-12, 7-8 4A SIC
Returning all-conference: Kayla VanFossen, sr., CF (first team)
Breakdown: The Hawks field nine seniors and return six starters, providing plenty of pop to their lineup. Skyview will have to find an answer inside the pitching circle after Jordan Hansen graduated and Hailee Ackerman, an all-conference honorable mention pick, decided to focus on club volleyball.
Team (1st-place votes)
1. Middleton (3)
2. Kuna (2)
3. Bishop Kelly (1)
6. Mountain Home