Chugiak softball takes third at state

Mustangs lose seven graduates


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Bailee Hughes sprints to first base after laying down a bunt against West Valley at the state softball tournament Friday, June 1 at Cartee Fields in Anchorage.

MIKE NESPER

Chugiak was just three innings away from playing for a state title, but fell short in the semifinals and finished third at the Large Schools ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Softball State Championships at Cartee Fields in Anchorage on June 2.

“They wore the Mustangs [uniform] very proudly and represented the school very well this weekend,” head coach Jim Huber said after West eliminated Chugiak with a 7-2 come-from-behind win.

An RBI by Katrina Grant scored Mollie Matthis to put Chugiak up 1-0 in the fourth inning. Then, West’s Pauline Tufi smacked an RBI double to tie the game in the top of the fifth.

West took a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning. Tufi added insurance for the Eagles when she hit a two-run home run in the seventh inning. West added three more runs to seal the victory in the final inning.

West’s bats came alive at the right time, Huber said.

“The hit when they needed to hit,” he said.

Chugiak (16-9) was the better team, Huber said.

“We were in the position to win it,” he said. “We just didn’t get it done.”

Chugiak, the Cook Inlet Conference’s third seed, opened the tournament with a 2-0 win over Railbelt Conference No. 2 seed West Valley. After losing 7-2 to top-seeded East, the Mustangs rebounded with a 14-1 rout over Service in their third game of the day Friday, June 1.

The T-Birds didn’t drop a game all tournament and beat West 8-0 to claim the Large Schools title.

On Saturday, Chugiak blanked Juneau-Douglas 4-0 to advance.

Despite finishing short of their goal of winning a state title, Huber said, Chugiak proved it’s one of the best programs in the state.

“It would have been nice to win a championship,” he said. “But I’m proud of them nonetheless.”

Recent graduates Darion Gobert and Kacey Brooker were named to the all-tournament team from Chugiak. They are two of seven who won’t be returning next season. Other recent grads include Matthis, Tracie Haken, Taylor Bakker, Jessica Tramp and Jessi McMullen.

“I’m going to miss these seniors horribly,” said Huber, who’s coached them since they were Knik Little Leaguers.

Though Chugiak is losing half of its team, several JV players are mentally ready to make the jump to varsity, Huber said.

“We’ve got a good group coming up,” he said.

 

Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or mike.nesper@alaskastar.com

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