2019 high school baseball state tournament previews

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5A STATE TOURNAMENT

When: May 16-18

Where: Boise Hawks Memorial Stadium/Capital HS

HIGHLAND RAMS

Record: 19-6-1 (District 5-6 champions)

Last trip to state: 2018

First-round opponent: Capital (fifth place in District 3), 11:30 a.m.

Overview: Highland is back at state for the second consecutive season, and the Rams look to do better than last year's two-and-out exit. Second-year Highland coach Christian Colonel said his junior-laden team is “excited, but determined,” as it vies for the school's first baseball state tournament trophy since winning the consolation championship in 2014.

“We want to make some noise,” Colonel said. “Every pitch at the state tournament is important. It's not a March 16 game where know you have 50 more at-bats. You may only see about eight pitches at the state tournament, who knows?”

Highland enters state with the No. 2 offense in 5A and faces Boise's Capital (13-16) in the opening round. The Eagles were the No. 8 seed in the District 3 tournament and were sent to the loser's bracket after one game. Capital won its next three to reach a state play-in against Lake City, which Highland beat to extend its winning streak to four games.

Capital last won a state title in 2014.

“They're one of the hottest teams in the state right now,” Colonel said.

NOTE: Highland's game was originally scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at Boise Hawks Memorial Stadium. It has been rescheduled to 11:30 a.m. at Capital High School because of forecasted weather conditions.

3A STATE TOURNAMENT

When: May 16-18

Where: Melaleuca Field (Idaho Falls)

MARSH VALLEY EAGLES

Record: 15-5 (District 5 champions)

Last trip to state: 2018

First-round opponent: Timberlake (District 1 champion), 10 a.m.

Overview: Marsh Valley heads to state anxious to play. The Eagles' last game was their district championship on May 4 — 12 days before Thursday's state tournament opener.

“It's a bad thing. It's definitely a concern,” Marsh Valley coach Kent Howell said of his team's long layoff. “We haven't taken any days off. We've tried to stay focused and have live at-bats and scrimmages in practice.”

The Eagles are a state tournament mainstay, qualifying for the big show four times in the last five years and finishing third in 2015. But Howell said the quality of pitching his team sees at state is a notch above what it gets in the regular season.

Marsh Valley's first-round opponent is Timberlake (16-8-1) in a rematch of last year's state tournament opener — a 3-0 Marsh Valley win. Howell said the White Tigers will deploy the same pitcher they did a season ago in hard-throwing left-hander Jack McDonald.

“We've been trying to take what we learned lat year,” Howell said. “You're going to have to win 2-0 or 2-1.”

2A STATE TOURNAMENT

When: May 16-18

Where: Orofino High School

MALAD DRAGONS

Record: 20-2 (District 5 champions)

Last trip to state: 2018

First-round opponent: Declo (District 4 champion), 10 a.m.

Overview: Malad believes this is its year to get over the hump.

The Dragons have left the last three state tournaments with a trophy, but none of them were state championship blue. Consolation titles in 2016 and 17, followed by a third-place finish last year, have left Malad hungry to get back to the state title game. The Dragons last played for a championship in 2011, a 3-0 win over New Plymouth.

“We feel like we have all the pitching to get us through three games to really compete for the state title,” Malad coach Justin Howe said, adding his team's six players with state tourney experience have “been in this kind of pressure before.”

Malad enters state on a 14-game winning streak. The run started with a 7-2 win against Declo — the Dragons' first-round opponent. The teams have faced off three times this season, with Malad winning all three by a combined score of 22-7.

The Hornets enter state winners of five of their last seven after starting the season 2-11.

“We're definitely not overlooking them,” Howe said. “They have good pitching and they can hit the ball pretty well.”

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