Chugiak softball team defeats Bartlett
The Chugiak Mustang softball team faced elimination but overcame, whittling away a 2-0 first-inning deficit, with three runs in the second inning, and three more in the third, en route to upending Bartlett’s hopes with a 8-3 win in the first game of a double-header Thursday at Albrecht Field.
Coach Jim Huber said the team was riding the arm of recent graduate Katy Bakker, who recorded the win in the Bartlett, then the loss in the 5-4 nod to South Anchorage in the nightcap.
Huber said the team’s best defensive set appears to be Bakker on the mound and junior Elle Gray at shortshop. Gray is another of the team’s pitchers along with Juliette Montgomery, among others. Montgomery was out-of-state for the conference tournament but will be present for state, said the coach.
“Elle really is the anchor to our defense. I don’t want to take her out of the middle of the infield. It changes the whole dynamic of our team,” Huber said.
Despite the early hole, Chugiak bats came alive in the second and third, with three runs in each frame.
Claire Bond opened with a one-out single in the second, followed by consecutive RBI-offerings by Julia Matthew, Maddie K and Emmie Jennings.
Chugiak amassed three runs in the third with hits from Gray, Tori Hooper, Bond and Matthew, the last three for RBIs.
The team’s defense was particular sharp with nine infield putouts, along with outfielders Bond, Jennings and Savannah Dodenhoff tracking down four flyballs.
Gray paced the team at the plate, going 3-for-3, with Bond dealing two hits.
Things did not go as well in the second game against South, to determine the third- and fourth-conference seeding for the upcoming state tournament.
“South came out very aggressive in running the bases,” said Huber, as the Mustangs spotted the Wolverine three first-inning runs, then two more in the second, to go down 5-1.
“I credit our team for being strong between the ears,” said the coach, stating the team has a way of working their way back into contests.
Trailing 5-4 in the last inning, the Mustangs had the bases loaded with only one out, yet failed to plate a runner, noted Huber.
“We just didn’t execute like I expected. We had two costly base running errors that cost us the game,” he asserted.
Needless to say, the team will be working on base-running scenarios prior to the start on the state tournament, held June 6-7 at the Cartee Fields in East Anchorage.
Huber said it is likely that the Mustangs will open against the Railbelt Conference’s top team, the Lathrop Malemutes.
“They have a good pitcher but overall a fairly weak defense. We’ll just have to put the ball in play and see what happens,” he said.
The Eagle River High, seeded eighth going into the tournament, fell upon hard times losing to top-ranked East on May 27 before being eliminated from further play by Dimond in the consolation bracket May 28.
Chugiak had lost to East High in the second round before working their way through the consolation bracket to finish fourth.