Softball season underway
Despite Mother Nature’s best efforts, the 2013 high school softball season started last week.
Chugiak opened with a convincing 10-2 victory over South on May 1 at Wendler Middle School. Katrina Grant went 2-for-2 and Kenzie Matthis was 2-for-3 for the Mustangs. Carly Metcalf picked up the win, striking out four and surrendering just three hits in four innings of work.
Two days later, West edged Chugiak 7-6 at Albrecht Fields. Katy Bakker pitched all six innings, striking out six and giving up five hits.
Chugiak fell to 1-2 after a 6-1 loss to East on Monday, May 6 at Wendler. Metcalf pitched a six-hitter and Bakker drove in Matthis for Chugiak’s lone run.
Bakker, Metcalf and Elle Gray will split time in the circle for Chugiak.
“That’s a luxury a lot of teams don’t have,” Mustangs’ head coach Jim Huber said of having three pitchers.
Chugiak has 22 players in its program, 13 on varsity and just nine on JV. Some players will split time between both teams, Huber said.
“Our numbers are not quite what they have been in the past,” he said.
The varsity roster is made up of three seniors, three juniors and seven sophomores. Chugiak graduated seven seniors and had a player transfer from last year’s team, which finished third at state.
Huber said he’s seeing several positive indicators from his new team.
“We’re really happy with their attitudes and their effort level,” he said. “Most of these girls are pretty strong mentally, too.”
They’re also speedy base runners, Huber said.
“From top to bottom, it’s the fastest team I’ve had in five years,” he said.
Despite their youth, Huber said the Mustangs will be able to compete with anyone in the Cook Inlet Conference.
“I strongly believe that we can make some noise this year,” he said. “I’ve got high expectations.”
Huber said the Mustangs have dedicated this season to Sarah Matthew, a 2011 Chugiak graduate who died in January after a year and a half battle with cancer.
Both Chugiak and Eagle River will wear armbands in honor of Matthew, who played softball for the Mustangs.
“She was a pretty special young lady,” Huber said.
Eagle River under new leadership
Former assistant Charley Peyton is taking over for Kevin Murphy as the new head coach of Eagle River’s softball program.
Peyton said his goal is to finish in the middle of the conference and win at least one game at the CIC tournament.
So far, Peyton is encouraged with what he’s seen.
“The team has come together well during the preseason,” he said.
With an already abridged season made shorter thanks to the recent cold, wet weather, Peyton said the Wolves need to a strong start to the year.
“We need to hit the season running,” he said.
Offensively, Eagle River has more options, Peyton said.
“We have a lot more hitters this year,” he said.
That should translate into more wins, Peyton said.
“We’ll be more competitive,” he said.
Eight of the Wolves’ 14 varsity players are upperclassmen, Peyton said, and all but two played varsity or JV last year.
After opening with a 15-0 loss to East on May 1 at Wendler, Eagle River fell 14-4 against Service on Friday, May 3 at Albrecht. Senior Sarah Peyton, a four-year player, led the Wolves with two hits and two RBIs. Dimond beat Eagle River 17-2 at Wendler on Monday, May 6
Both Chugiak and Eagle River played double headers Wednesday, May 8, but scores were not available when the Star went to press.
The Wolves play two games today (May 9) at Albrecht against Skyview (5:45 p.m.) and West (7:30 p.m.).
On Saturday, May 11, Eagle River takes on Soldotna at 9 a.m. at Wendler before meeting Chugiak at 5 p.m. at Lions Park. The Mustangs’ first game Saturday is against Dimond at 12:30 p.m. at Albrecht.
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or [email protected].