Genesee Bulldogs softball team is feeling the joy of State glory

May 24—One week after winning a second straight Idaho Class 1A state championship, Genesee softball coach Brian Malcom is still feeling the high.

"We're still on cloud nine about that," Malcom said. "We're just so happy. The girls — I've got texts from a lot of their parents. What a great year it was for us. After the state tournament, we all went out for dinner and when we got back we had a serpentine of fire engines and ambulances waiting for us to get back and drive through town."

The Bulldogs won the championship with a 12-7 win against Kendrick on May 17 in their hometown, in front of their friends and family. This win came after the Tigers won 5-4 earlier in the day to force the if-necessary game. The hometown team claimed its banner with the help of several solid performances.

Sophomore Sydney Banks put up four hits and three RBI across the two championship games. Junior pitcher Kendra Meyer went the distance twice and struck out nine batters.

"It was really, really awesome," Malcom said. "We've (hosted) the district tournament and stuff, and we had fans there too, but nothing like we did for the state tournament. And it did really help us in the last couple innings of the state championship game, too. The crowd got really into it."

When Malcom and assistant Charise Burke took their roles with the Bulldogs, the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the softball careers of the class of 2023. The class of '24 is the first group of seniors that Malcom and Burke have coached a full four years.

The Genesee seniors of Harlei Donner, Riley Leseman, Audrey Barber, Brinley Lowe and Mia Scharnhorst have made the state championship tournament all four years of their high school softball careers. The soon-to-be Genesee High School alums made it to three-straight championship games and won the last two.

"This was the first time that we've got girls for all four years because (COVID-19) cut short our first four," Malcom said. "They've really bought into what we do in practice and how we run things. They come to practice and they almost don't even need to ask, except certain drills that we do. Other than that, it's just really, really cohesive and everyone knows what to do."

The Bulldogs are in pretty good shape for next season, even with so many experienced players graduating.

The team has 11 returning players, nine of whom have now seen at least two state tournaments. Many of those players had significant roles on this year's championship squad.

Genesee's state title win capped off a solid spring for northern and north-central Idaho baseball and softball teams. Potlatch, Orofino and Moscow baseball all won State in their respective classifications, and Orofino, Grangeville and Moscow softball all made state tourneys, too. And there's the fellow Whitepine League teams in the 1A softball tournament with the Bulldogs.

Genesee, like many other northern Idaho teams, practiced a lot inside due to adverse weather and field conditions.

Even with less practice time outside, and less facilities than their southern Idaho peers, northern Idaho was still able to excel at State.

"A lot of these kids are just used to hard work," Malcolm said. "These girls are not afraid of hard work and the boys aren't either. ... They're hard workers. And it's really a testament to them and their parents. I push them quite a bit at practice and they don't like a lot of drills but I tell them 'Trust me, they'll pay off in the end.'"

The Whitepine League is always a center for talented softball teams. And for the last four years, the Bulldogs have been at or near the forefront of the league.

With so many returning players, many of whom two-time champs, that likely won't change anytime soon.

Kowatsch can be contacted at 208-848-2268, or on Twitter @Teren_Kowatsch.