Here is the first installment of season previews for area high-school teams playing spring sports. Coaches can still send their preview capsules to email@example.com.
Coach — Jim Holman (12th year)
Last year’s record — 20-5
Returning letterwinners — Devin Fry, sr., INF, P; Terin Judy, sr., INF/OF/P; Josh Wilkinson, sr., C/INF/OF; Dylan Landrus, jr., INF; Noah Renzelman, jr., INF/P; Carson Jurries, jr., INF/P; Joe Bailey, jr., OF; Keaton Caldwell, jr., OF/P; Mason Hurlbert, jr., INF/C.
Outlook — The Panthers appear to be primed for a strong season, with eight full-time starters and other experienced players back. Asotin also returns all of its pitchers. According to Holman, this group is athletic, has a good work ethic and is coachable, though the Panthers need to avoid dwelling on their mistakes. Asotin isn’t shying away from tough tests, with Coeur d’Alene, Moscow and Sandpoint on its schedule.
Coach — Bruce Bensching (12th year)
Last year’s record — 12-10
Returning letterwinners — Treyson LejaMeyer, sr., P/1B; Tayler Garrett, sr., P/1B; Jacob Cruser, sr., OF; Jace Wessels, jr., IF/P; Daemon Peace, jr., IF/P; Josh Eggelston, jr., Utility/P; Justin Spencer, jr., P/1B.
Outlook — Clarkston plans to be dominant on the mound. Bensching said there are about nine to 10 players on the team who can throw strikes and compete. However, the team’s main catchers graduated last season. So that’s a hole the Bantams need to address.
Coach — Pat Doumit (12th year)
Last year’s record — 18-8 (finished second in 1B state tournament)
Returning letterwinners — Reece Chadwick, sr., P; Parker Druffel, sr., P/C; Luke Vining, sr., P; Hayden Neighbors, sr., OF; Jon Bean, jr., P; Kian Ankerson, jr., P; Jackson Meyer, jr., P/1B; Chris Wolf, jr., P/OF; Kelton Devlin, so., P/OF; Trent Druffel, so., P/1B/OF; Connor White, so., Utility.
Outlook — The Wildcats return senior pitcher Chadwick, who is the reigning Southeast 1B League MVP and will play at Big Bend Community College next year, along with Parker Druffel and Vining. Those three have been on the varsity squad since they were in the eighth grade. Defensively, Colton might struggle a bit, with only one outfielder with prior experience back in the mix.
Coach — Mike Jones (second year)
Last year’s record — 8-8
Returning letterwinners — Riley Pedersen, sr., 1B/C; Clayton Clarkson, sr., OF/1B; Tyson White, sr., OF; Blake Jones, jr., P/SS; Ethan Hawkins, jr., OF; Kyle Bankus, so., IF; Austin Jones, so., IF; Ethan Montgomery so., OF.
Outlook — The Vikings have a good mix of experience and youth. They are strong in the outfield, as well as in the middle. On the mound, however, they’re young and inexperienced. Gar-Pal is only returning one pitcher, Blake Jones.
Coach — Lee Nadiger (fifth year)
Last year’s record — 17-5
Returning letterwinners — Chase Adkison, C/P, sr.; Hunter Schoo, IF/P, sr.; Michael Woods, IF/P, sr.; Jack Kennedy, OF/P, jr.; Blake Schoo, IF/P, soph.; Tori Ebert OF/C, soph.; Gannon Garmon, IF/P, soph.
Outlook — The Bulldogs made it to the Idaho Class 2A state title game last year and this year’s team “has a chance to be the overall most talented team” Nadiger said he’s coached. A big part of that is no doubt Adkison. The senior, a Boise State baseball signee who entered State last year batting .680, has been on varsity since his freshman year, as have fellow 12th-graders Woods (3B) and Schoo (pitcher/1B). They’ll be joined by an influx of young talent as well, making this not only the most talented but “the youngest team I have had in my five years (coaching at Grangeville),” Nadiger said.
Coach — Tommy Williamson (first year)
Outlook — Kamiah combined with Nezperce in the spring of 2017, and didn’t field a baseball team at all last year. But the Kubs are back, and Williamson called his team a “young budding program.” Sophomore pitcher Bodie Norman is a player to keep an eye on, along with the team’s lone seniors, Brendan Kiele and John Allmon.
Coach — Davey Steele (fourth year)
Last year’s record — 14-14 (finished fifth in 5A state tournament)
Returning letterwinners — Connor Stamper, sr., C/P; Dawson Bonfield, jr., IF/P; Tyson Wallace, sr., IF/P; Blaise Stottlemyre, sr., IF/P; George Lopez, sr., OF; Kyle Van Boeyen, sr., IF\P; Dalton Hart, sr., IF/P.
Outlook — The Bengals are senior-heavy heading into the 2019 campaign, but haven’t had a lot of outdoor practice time, due to weather. Lewiston had a so-so regular season last year before surging to the District II championship in the postseason.
Coach — Griffin Rod (third season)
Last year’s record — 5-12
Returning letterwinners — Jacob Gray, sr., SS/P; Tristan Wilson, sr., C; Billy Adams, sr., 2B; Peyton Waters, sr., P/OF; Marcus Delusa, sr., OF; Hayden Thompson, jr., 1B/P; Cam Vis, jr., OF/P; Brayden Decker, jr., OF; Chad Redinger, so., Utility.
Outlook — The Bears have “strength in experience and camaraderie,” Rod said. They should have better pitching depth and defense this spring, and more versatility in their batting order. Like most baseball teams in the area, Moscow has staged many of its early practices indoors. Once things warm up and the Bears jump into the 4A Inland Empire League, it should be “a dogfight just like the last two seasons,” Rod said.
Coach — Jim Shepherd (11th year)
Last year’s record — 18-6
Returning letterwinners — Cota Hadaller, P, sr.; Braden Morris, C, sr.; Chris Hamburg, OF, sr.; Conner Akins, P, jr.; Kyle Lynas, P, jr.; Dylan Andrews, P, jr.; Justin Nicholsan, IF, jr.; Jarrod Nicholson, IF, jr.; Jim Clark, OF, jr.; Jarrod Grady, P, soph.
Outlook — The Loggers fell in last year’s Idaho Class 1A state title game, 8-7, to Genesee, and return 10 letterwinners. That gives Potlatch both talent and a chip on its shoulder, a dangerous combination that will have teams from throughout the state taking notice. The Loggers — many of whom were part of the school’s basketball team that finished runner-up at State recently — for their part aren’t taking anything for granted, with Shepherd simply saying his team “should be able to compete” but adding that “the league should be tough.”
Coach — Shane Burke (third year)
Last year’s record — 2-17
Returning letterwinners — Emily Bann, P, sr.; Jasmine Carringer, OF/P, sr.; Tiana Ah Hi, CF, sr.; Paiton Vargas, 1B, sr.; Mikayla Hill, SS, sr.; Hannah Murphy, 3B/C, jr.
Outlook — The Bantams return six starters from last year’s team, among them slugger Mikayla Hill, who can really connect with the ball for distance. The Bantams, despite Hill, struggled last year and will face some “uncertainties,” Burke said, in the outfield and at second base this season. They key for the Bantams, Burke said, will be getting their pitching on track. If Clarkston can get that squared away, it could provide a stiff challenge this year for many opponents.
Coach — Rochelle Pedersen (second year)
Last year’s record — 3-13 overall, 1-8 Southeast 1B League.
Returning letterwinners — Jaeden Askins, 3B/SS, sr.; Kate Wilson, OF/SS, sr.; Sarita Matusek-Devaney, OF, sr.; Lexi Brantner, OF/2B, jr.; Taylor Humes, OF, jr.; Maci Brantner, SS/1B/P, fr.; Madi Cloninger, OL/P/3B, fr.; Denni Fealy, C/OF, fr.; Kenzi Pedersen, 1B/P/SS/C, fr.
Outlook — The Vikings may be young (with four freshmen among their nine returning starters), but “all but one of my freshmen played at the high school level last year,” Pedersen said. Even so, she still expects nerves to be an issue at times. The Vikings’ strength as a team, Pedersen said, is their unity. “We have a lot of returning players that know each other well and know what is expected of them,” she said.
Coach — Brian Malcom (third year)
Last year’s record — 22-3 (finished second in Class 1A state tournament)
Returning letterwinners — Grace Turpin, sr., C/OF; Brooklyn Mayer, sr., OF; Kassie Cass, jr., INF; Mikacia Bartosz, jr., P; Regan Zenner, jr., INF; Kaitlyn Sager, jr., OF; Kyleigh Carter, soph., INF; Zoe Cutlip, soph., OF; Kami Lockler, soph., INF; Carly Allen, so., P.
Outlook — The Bulldogs lost to Notus in last year’s state title game, and are welcoming back 10 players from that squad. Among those returners is Bartosz, a pitcher coming off a stellar sophomore season. Like all its rivals, Genesee is biding its time until it can play outside regularly.
Coach — Justin Haag (first year)
Returning letterwinners — Nicole Sparano, sr., 2B; Gabby Lilly, sr., CF; Stephanie Melton, jr., P; Logan Schwartz, jr., SS; Trinity Teel, jr., 3B/C; Jenna Johnson, jr., OF/1B; Kennedy Howell, jr., OF; Samantha Leidheiser, jr., OF.
Outlook — Orofino will rely on its speed and athleticism to succeed this season. The Maniacs will also turn to the leadership of four-year letterwinners Nicole Sparano and Gabby Lilly. However, their ability to get people out consistently is a concern for their new coach, Haag.
Coach — Jeff Martin (11th year)
Last year’s record — 13-6 (finished third in Class 1A state tournament)
Returning letterwinners — Noelle Uhlenkott, sr., 3B; Kodie Tidwell, sr., C; Alex Hiler sr., 1B; Julia Wemhoff, sr., OF; India Peery, jr., SS; Sydnee Bruegeman, jr., P; Ashton Landers, jr., OF; Hope Schwartz, so., 1B; Madison Shears, so., 2B/OF; Eve Uhlenkott, so., 2B.
Outlook — The Pirates are returning only three starters from their third-place state finish a year ago. But Martin thinks they have great depth, better than past teams. Though there are some inexperienced players, Martin thinks it’s a good thing because everyone is learning together.
Coach — Steve Corr (seventh year)
Last year’s record — 2-8
Returning letterwinners — Blazie Gilder, sr., SS; Katy Doumit, sr., P; Ryleigh Clem sr., C; Cre’elle Lanier, sr., LF.
Outlook — Troy comes into the 2019 campaign young and inexperienced. The Trojans haven’t been able to practice much, due to inclement weather. They do have some new pitchers, along with speed in the outfield — which they hope will help them improve on last year’s two-win showing.
Coach — John Kowatsch (third year)
Returning state qualifiers — Coleton Tenwick, sr.
Outlook — The Bantams welcome back seven starters but don’t have a lot of depth. Tenwick, who made all-league last year, is the No. 1 singles player while Jack Hedrick, another all-league returner, is the No. 2 singles player. All things considered, “We have high hopes for this season,” Kowatsch said. “We have several returning players with experience.”
Coach — Sam Adams (20th year)
Returning state qualifiers — Kerington Tenwick, soph.; Heidi Hansen, sr.; Hannah Winter, sr.
Outlook — The Bantams appear to have a loaded squad made up of strong veterans and promising youngsters, in both the singles and doubles ranks. Clarkston’s eight seniors “are talented, encouraging, competitive and provide great leadership,” Adams said. Now, all the Bantams need is decent weather so they can start playing.
Coach — Caitlin Scott (fourth year)
Returning state qualifiers — Tiyapo Campbell.
Outlook — Campbell, a senior, made State in boys’ singles last year. But every other player for the Wolves is not only new, but a freshman as well. “Their abilities range from never having picked up a racket, ever, to playing a little bit here and there with their older brothers and sister(s),” Scott said of her her team’s four newcomers. To their credit, she added, they all seem to be learning quickly “and the boys all have great potential.”
Coach — Cody Wendt (fourth year)
Returning state qualifiers — none.
Outlook — Seniors Andy He and Tim Watts have both been on the varsity since their freshman years, and Wendt expects ninth-graders Connor Lee and Ambrose Wang to make a similar impact upon arrival this spring. Another newcomer who may contribute for Pullman immediately is senior Ty Hendrickson, a football and basketball standout with no previous tennis experience. Wendt noted his team’s “excellent depth for a school our size,” and hopes to “instill the match toughness and savvy necessary to overcome old rivals in league and adapt to new adversaries at Regionals and State.”
Coach — Jason Emery (sixth year)
Returning state qualifiers — Jacob Elskamp.
Outlook — Asotin is returning an experienced varsity team in 2019. The Panthers have five returning letterwinners, but they haven’t been able to practice much. So they’re going to have to be dialed in as soon as the weather improves.
Coach — Craig McCormick (21st year)
Returning state qualifiers — Dane Bednar, jr.; Terry Byrne, jr.
Outlook — After winning the Great Northern League title last year, the Greyhounds are looking to repeat history this season. Pullman has four juniors back from last year’s team, so the club should be strong this season and next.
Coach — John Willy (fourth year)
Returning state qualifiers — Karly Bean, jr.; Elsie Lupkes, jr.
Outlook — Pullman is coming in young but gained a lot of experience last season. The weather hasn’t done the Greyhounds any favors, but come the end of the season, Willy expects a tough battle for postseason positions.