If you gave up watching high school sports for Lent — which, quite frankly, would be a strange thing to give up — then it’s a good thing Easter Sunday came before this week started.
In what might be the busiest six days of prep sports this town has ever seen, fans in Juneau will have their pick from a varitable cornucopia of events. Whether you want soccer, softball, baseball or track, the next week should satisfy your appetite for local sports.
The defending state champion Juneau-Douglas boys’ soccer team kicks off the week with two 5 p.m. matchups against rival Ketchikan today and Tuesday as the Bears look to continue their dominance over Southeast competition. But the real madness begins Thursday, when another defending state champ takes the diamond.
The Crimson Bears softball team opens its season with a doubleheader on Thursday and Friday (beginning at 5 p.m. both days) before an all-day mini tournament on Saturday at Melvin Park. If you’ve been fiending for some softball, this week should certainly give you your early season fix.
“Our varsity girls are really ready to get going,” Bears manager Dave Massey said. “They’re anxious and more than ready to get outside and start playing ball games.
“The girls always enjoy playing at home in front of friends and family.”
This year marks the second straight year the JDHS softball team will hold a “pink out” to raise cancer awareness. The seniors on last year’s team started what has already become a softball tradition for the Bears.
“They do it to raise awareness of breast cancer, in particular, and this year they’ve added childhood cancer in the form of support for Alex’s Lemonade Stand, which is a nationwide fundraising program that we got involved with when we took a trip to Arizona last year,” Massey said. “We’re going to split proceeds with Cancer Connection and Alex’s Lemonade Stand, and our target is to raise at least $1,000 for each program.”
Lemonade and T-shirts will be sold during Thursday’s pink out games for donations toward the two causes. So go watch some softball and buy some lemonade and T-shirts. Considering where the money goes, it will almost assuredly be the most important cup of lemonade you’ve ever had. Get out and donate.
Thursday also marks the start of the second season in Thunder Mountain softball history when the Falcons open their varsity season with a home game of their own against North Pole before playing a doubleheader on Friday against Sitka and Ketchikan.
“We’re definitely excited about this season and what we’ve seen in our girls’ effort and enthusiasm so far,” Falcons manager Jorge Cordero said. “We have a little more knowledge of the game after working with these girls going into our second year.
“We just know each other better. We’re ready.”
Growing as a young program is never an easy thing to do, especially when there’s an established, dominant one already in town like JDHS. Each and every Thunder Mountain team has gone through the pains of being thrown in the fire against the kind of competition the Bears bring, but like those before them, the Falcons are optimistic.
“It seems like we’re better all around,” Cordero said. “The attitude has been more can-do rather than them being afraid or nervous.
“These girls now have that extra year of experience under their belts and we have a good core of returning players.”
Saturday’s mini tournament will feature five teams (JDHS, TMHS, Sitka, Ketchikan and North Pole). There will be ten games, each lasting 65 minutes, and the action begins at 8:30 a.m. with a matchup between Ketchikan and North Pole. The last games could go as late as 9 p.m.
In other action, the local tracksters will also take the spotlight on Friday and Saturday at Thunder Mountain High School for their only home appearance before the Region V meet May 13-14.
Gustavus, Haines, Ketchikan, Petersburg, Sitka, Skagway and Yakutat will be in attendance along with the two hometown squads. So, I guess there’s some reason for excitement for the week ahead.
“Oh, heck yeah. We’re really excited. We’ve heard Haines is bringing something like 45 kids, Petersburg’s bringing about 40, and those are huge teams for those schools,” Falcons coach Scott May said. “This will really be the first time this year where everybody gets together with their full contingent as regions get closer.
“So, yeah, we’re excited.”
May said he expects there will be about 200 kids at the meet, and this will be a chance for the much-improved Falcons to show their stuff, especially on the boys’ side. The Falcons guys are undefeated so far this season and look to continue that trend this weekend.
But don’t forget about the JDHS boys. The Bears have been without several key athletes so far this year and are looking for a strong showing in front of the home crowd.
“It’s going to be really close between a few schools,” May said. “Our wins haven’t been landslides. They’ve been fairly close and I expect the same again.”
As for the girls, May said it’s the Bears’ for the taking.
“Juneau-Douglas has by far the top team on the girls’ side, then it’s a really close one with everybody else,” he said. “It’s anybody’s race for the runner-up. That’s what the battle will be for.”
Three of the four local soccer teams will take the pitch over the weekend, beginning with the Juneau-Douglas girls’ team taking on Service at 5 p.m. on Friday at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park. The Service boys’ team is also in town to take on the Bears at 6:45 p.m. the same day. The girls will then play Service again at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Adair-Kennedy before playing Ketchikan later that day at 6:45 p.m. The boys wrap up their two-game series with Service at 1:15 p.m. on Saturday.
The Thunder Mountain girls’ team will look for its first win of the season on Friday against Ketchikan at 8 p.m. at Thunder Mountain High School before facing Service at 3 p.m. on Saturday at Adair-Kennedy.
A list of game times for the upcoming week can be found on page B2, so make sure your day planner is readily available.
What could be the busiest prep sports week in Juneau’s history begins heating up today with the JDHS boys’ soccer team, so head out to Adair-Kennedy tonight to get a taste of what’s to come.
Besides, it turns out the Bears are pretty good. Again.