Chugiak softballers finish 2-2
Team places fourth at State Tournament at Cartee Fields
“Ahhh, good game Bartlett!” chorus members of the Chugiak varsity softball team in celebration following the final out of their 8-3 win Thursday, May 29 at Albrecht Field. Pitcher Katie Bakker pitched a complete game, limiting Golden Bear batters to eight hits. With the win, Chugiak advances to the state tourney.
With a second-round loss to East, leading to a third game of day one, it was going to be a tall order for any team to win the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska State Softball Championships held June 6-7.
After defeating Railbelt leader Colony, 20-7, in the opening game, the Mustangs lost to eventual state-champion, East, 8-2, pushing Chugiak into the loser’s bracket, and facing South Anchorage in a third contest Friday.
Head coach Jim Huber said the team lived on the efforts of starting pitcher Katy Bakker, who pitched in consecutive games Friday.
Huber said the team faced a dilemma in the fifth round with the game in the balance, causing the coach to approach his ace for a short conference in the circle.
“I asked her if she had six more outs in her arm – and she assured me that she did,” said Huber.
Bakker, a recently graduated senior, responded admirably while the Mustangs provided a couple insurance runs helping the team to an 11-3 win over the Wolverines and allowing Chugiak to advance into day two action.
Huber said the team faced an uphill battle, losing two regular season starters, namely Savannah Dodenhoff and Bailey Reeves, from the tournament lineup for varying reasons. Reeves had played second base opposite first-team All-Conference shortstop Elle Gray in the heart of the Mustangs’ infield defense, while Dodenhoff, the team’s usual leadoff hitter, was also a burner in the outfield at right.
A sprained ankle to center fielder Emmie Jennings also had poor repercussions for the team in the outfield, especially in the team’s elimination game against West on Saturday morning.
The oddly bracketed tournament of six teams, comprised of East and West Anchorage, South, Chugiak, Lathrop and Colony, gave first-round byes to both East Anchorage and Lathrop.
Huber said the team gave up a couple of early runs to the West Eagles, and just failed to generate enough offense to overcome the deficit.
Even with the Mustangs’ falling to West in both regular season meetings, 10-8 and 5-4, Huber thought Chugiak had the opportunity to win, and gave sophomore pitcher Julliette Montgomery a lot of credit for stepping in for Bakker.
The Eagles, however, had a great outing by their leading pitcher Lauren Syrup.
West then lost their next game to Lathrop, falling out at third place, relegating the championship game of the double-elimination tournament, with the Lathrop Malemutes having to beat top-ranked East twice, after having lost 11-1, early Saturday morning.
East defeated Lathrop, 10-1, to give the Thunderbirds a third consecutive title, and fourth in six years.
Huber did not hesitate to note that the Mustangs’ six-run loss to East was the closest battle that East faced in the tournament, stating that it could have, and perhaps should have been Chugiak facing East in the title game.
The Chugiak coach praised all-tournament selections Elle Gray and Elise Arnold for their fine contribution at the plate and in the field, as both hit .500 or better in the playoffs.
Huber said the team also a fine contribution from JV players Maddy Kaltschnee, Nicole Pinckney, Tracy Hanson and Randi McMullen, who moved up to the varsity squad for the tourney.
The complete all-state, large school tournament team included Sydney Smith (East), Kacey Duffield (Lathrop), Gabby Meyerson (East), Lauren Syrup (West), Taria Page (East), Alise Arnold (Chugiak), Morgan Hill (East), Selena Maxwell (Lathrop) and Elle Grey (Chugiak).