Maddi Palmer

Pocatello’s Maddi Palmer corrals the ball during a home game against Burley on May 3.

5A STATE TOURNAMENT

When: May 17-18

Where: Post Falls High School

HIGHLAND RAMS

Record: 22-4 (District 5-6 champion)

Last trip to state: 2018

First-round opponent: Coeur d’Alene (District 1-2 runner-up), 9 a.m.

Overview: Highland continued its dominance over southeast Idaho this season, winning the 5A District 5-6 championship for the fourth consecutive year.

The Rams’ only loss to a District 5 or 6 team was against Thunder Ridge in April.

But succeeding at the 5A state tournament is another thing. The Rams are 1-4 in their last five games at the tournament and have never won an IHSAA-sanctioned state title. If they accomplish the feat this year, it will be because of their offense, which is averaging a 5A-high 11.7 runs per game.

“The biggest difference this year is our offense,” Highland coach Tisha Coverdell said. “We’ve been riding on that all year. We have a solid 10, 11 players producing for us. There’s no dead spots.”

In the first round, the Rams face Coeur d’Alene, which has won five IHSAA 5A state championships, with their last coming in 2012. The Vikings (11-8) are also within a 20-minute drive from the state tournament site, but they have struggled with consistency this season and have lost six of their last 10 games.

“The biggest thing we’re talking about is doing what we’ve been doing,” Coverdell said. “We don’t want to change anything. We don’t want to put extra pressure on the players. We don’t want to look past Coeur d’Alene.”

Jordan Frasure

Highland’s Jordan Frasure runs home during a home game against Rigby on May 9.

4A STATE TOURNAMENT

When: May 17-18

Where: Coeur d’Alene High School/Ramsey Park

POCATELLO INDIANS

Record: 16-10 (District 4-5 runner-up)

Last trip to state: 2018

First-round opponent: Lakeland (District 1-2 champion), 11 a.m.

Overview: Pocatello is making its fifth consecutive appearance in the 4A state tournament.

The Indians’ last two games showed what they could be at their peak and when not hitting on all cylinders. The Indians gave Twin Falls its first conference loss of the season in the 4A District 4-5 semifinals in a 4-1 win before being rolled by Jerome 7-1 in the title game.

“Against Twin, we caught an excellent game pitching and defensively,” Pocatello coach Josh Naylor said. “And Jerome was one of those games — hats off to them – that we couldn’t get it going. ... I think it’s between that. I don’t think Jerome is six runs better than us.”

Pocatello’s first-round opponent is Lakeland (10-15), the only 4A state tournament team that has a losing record. The Hawks outlasted league foes Moscow and Sandpoint – which also had losing records – to clinch a 4A District 1-2 title.

“I’m always concerned with situations like that,” Naylor said of overlooking an opponent. “They’re going to state for a reason, and we’re treating them like any other opponent. When you don’t, that’s when bad things happen. So we talked about that.”

3A STATE TOURNAMENT

When: May 17-18

Where: Ramsey Park (Coeur d’Alene)

SNAKE RIVER PANTHERS

Record: 13-5 (District 5 champion)

Last trip to state: 2016

First-round opponent: Timberlake (District 1 champion), 11 a.m.

Overview: Snake River is coming off winning its first 3A District 5 title since 2016, dethroning a Marsh Valley squad that had won the previous two championships.

“I have some pretty good ballplayers and they stay steady,” Panthers coach Kay Martin said. “The girls have really good chemistry, they enjoy one another and they play well together.”

The Panthers enter state after allowing 3.5 runs per game, a 3A-best mark. Snake River allowed five runs in four games combined against the Eagles, the 3A District 5 runner-up. Starting pitcher Anna Larsen has a 1.41 ERA through 79 2/3 innings and her defense has a .930 fielding percentage.

Timberlake (17-1), Snake’s first-round opponent, has the best winning percentage in 3A at 94.4 percent. The White Tigers’ only loss was against 4A state tournament participant Lakeland in the third game of their season, and they have since won 15 consecutive games.

2A STATE TOURNAMENT

When: May 17-18

Where: Moscow High School

MALAD DRAGONS

Record: 22-2 (2A District 5 champion)

Last trip to state: 2018

First-round opponent: Orofino (District 1-2 champion), 9 a.m.

Overview: Malad aims for its second state title in four years and fourth of this decade while looking to redeem last season’s two-and-out state tournament appearance.

“It shouldn’t be my motivation, but I want you to know that it is,” Dragons coach Bob Hannah said of last year’s early exit. “There are some things I could have done differently. … We’ve improved on some things, and I expect we’re going to do better this year than last.”

Malad has the second-best run differential in 2A thanks to its defense and pitching, as the squad is allowing 3.4 runs per game – 0.7 per game fewer than the rest of 2A.

“I was trained by a guy named Scott Ray (Malad’s former softball coach), who really put a lot of energy and time into making sure the kids were ready on every pitch,” Hannah said. “It’s something that we reinforce daily, and I think that kind of focus takes a lot of discipline. I think our kids understand what we want.”

Malad begins its hunt for a state title against Orofino (8-9), which is hard to read after facing six out-of-state teams and one 4A Idaho team. Orofino was 5-9 entering the final stretch of the season, but is riding a three-game winning streak.

Soda Springs-Firth 2A state play-in

Soda Springs' Morgan Hill winds up to pitch during a 2A state play-in game May 11 at OK Ward Park.

SODA SPRINGS CARDINALS

Record: 12-9 (District 5 runner-up)

Last trip to state: 2013

First-round opponent: McCall-Donnelly (District 3 champion), 9 a.m.

Overview: Soda Springs will compete in the 2A state tournament for the first time in six years.

It took Wade Schvaneveldt three seasons at the helm to turn the program around, amid a torrid stretch in which he also led the Cardinals girls basketball program to back-to-back state titles in 2018-19.

The Cardinals defeated Firth 7-3 in a softball state play-in game to secure their long-awaited state spot.

Soda Springs faces an uphill battle at state as the only 2A participant with a negative run differential at minus-.86. The Cards’ first-round opponent is McCall-Donnelly, which is outscoring opponents by 6.6 runs per game.