CHS softball ready for state tourney run
Coach says team peaking at right time
Chugiak catcher Taylor Bakker makes a throw to first as third baseman Tracie Haken looks on during a Cook Inlet Conference softball game on Saturday, May 12, at Albrecht Fields in Anchorage. Chugiak begins its state tournament Friday, June 1 against West Valley at Cartee Fields in Anchorage.
The Mustangs’ timing couldn’t be better.
Chugiak made adjustments during the Cook Inlet Conference softball tournament, and the girls are peaking as they head into state, head coach Jim Huber said.
“I truly think we are coming together just at the right time,” he said. “I’ve been really, really pleased with the girls.”
Chugiak (13-7), the No. 3 seed from the CIC, opens the Large Schools ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Softball State Championships against the Railbelt Conference’s No. 2 seed, West Valley, on Friday, June 1 at 11 a.m. at Cartee Fields in Anchorage.
Chugiak needs strong defense and has to avoid chasing balls out of the strike zone for success, captain Taylor Bakker said.
“We need to have some tight defense, and we need to put our bats in play,” she said. “Just be smart.”
Chugiak has to limit its mistakes, captain Kacey Brooker said.
“Errors have been one of our downfalls this year,” she said.
“Teams will take advantage of errors when they can,” she said.
The Mustangs need to control each game, Huber said.
“We’re going to have to basically dictate the way we want to play,” he said.
Chugiak also needs to utilize its speedy base runners with timely hitting, Huber said.
Every facet of the game is crucial at state, Bakker said.
“The little things can make the biggest difference,” she said.
Though Chugiak fell short in its bid to win the CIC title, Brooker said, the Mustangs proved they can play with the conference’s top two teams, West and East.
“We are fully capable of beating them,” she said.
The Eagles and T-Birds accounted for six of Chugiak’s seven losses this season.
In the CIC tourney, second-seeded West defeated No. 3 Chugiak 5-3 before No. 1 East eliminated the Mustangs with a 7-5 come-from-behind win via a fourth-inning grand slam.
Though East — whose only lost one game this season en route to the CIC title — has beaten Chugiak three times, the Mustangs have outhit the T-Birds in two of those games, Huber said.
“That’s a good sign,” he said. “In so many parts of the game we won. Now, we just need to transfer that to the scoreboard.”
Chugiak battled every inning against the T-Birds and Eagles, Bakker said.
“We’ve gone down with a fight with those two teams,” she said. “We played those innings like we never played before.”
Chugiak kept a positive attitude despite the losses, Bakker said.
“We never once put our heads down,” she said. “We were giving each other confidence.”
That same attitude is essential at state, Bakker said.
“It’s important to pick each other up as much as you can,” she said.
The seven seniors (Bakker, Brooker, Jessica Tramp, Tracie Haken, Darion Gobert, Mollie Matthis and Jessi McMullen) don’t need any extra motivation, Brooker said. With half the team comprised of recent graduates, the rest of the Mustangs know how important the state tournament is, she said.
“That also produces more drive for everyone to want to do well,” Brooker said.
The Mustangs are going to take each game one at a time, Huber said.
“You just can’t take anything for granted,” he said. “You never know what’s going to happen.”
Chugiak has put in the hard work necessary to reach state, Huber said, the girls just have to play like they know how.
“Now, it’s all about trusting yourselves and putting it all out on the field,” he said. “Just go to work.”
Bakker said the team is anxious — but prepared — to make a run at a state title.
“I’m ready to show those teams what we’re made of,” she said. “We’re ready to win.”