In the season-opening battle of large and small schools softball defending state champions Thursday at Melvin Park, Juneau-Douglas once again stood tall.
The Crimson Bears opened the 2011 campaign by cruising to a 7-0 shutout of the Sitka Wolves behind a grand slam from senior third baseman Gabbie Saldivar, and seven innings of two-hit softball from starter Jennifer Nelson.
JDHS won the 2010 large schools state championship while Sitka was the small schools winner.
“The first win, the first game; it feels good,” Saldivar said afterward. “We were hyped up and excited. In the beginning during warm-ups, we were kind of fumbling around but we got back and we knew that we wanted to win this, our first game in front of our home crowd.
“We wanted to make it a good one.”
The Bears picked up right where they left off in 2010 with a five-run first inning.
Megan Mauseth singled sharply to center to lead things off, and then was safe at second base on a fielder’s choice as Nelson reached first.
Kaci Hansen doubled to left to score Mauseth, and Kalea Chapman walked to load the bases, setting the table for Saldivar, who blasted a shot over the fence in left-center for a 5-0 lead out of the gate.
“I didn’t know what kind of pitch it was but I knew if I hit it hard and got a good turn, it would go far,” she said of her first career grand slam and second career homer. “I didn’t know it would go over the fence, but it was a good, good, good at-bat.”
Mauseth hit a one-out single in the second, followed by another Nelson single to left. Taylor Larson drew a walk and courtesy runner Peyton Millay was safe at home for the Bears’ sixth run after Hansen reached on an error at short, and JDHS led 6-0 after two.
Sitka didn’t get a runner past second until the fifth inning, when Emily Inman reached on an error and went to second after Jettafay Workman was hit by a pitch. Workman went to third on a throwing error, but was nailed at the plate after Saldivar fielded a ground ball to third and easily threw her out at home.
That was as close as Sitka would get to scoring as Nelson gave up just two hits in seven innings, striking out four and walking one.
The Wolves stranded eight runners, with just one getting to third.
JDHS tacked on a run in the fifth after Saldivar drew a walk and scored on an RBI single by Kyelisa Graham.
Mauseth was 2-for-3 for JDHS, and Nelson helped her cause in the circle with three hits, including two singles and a double. Millay scored two runs, and Saldivar went 1-for-2 with a walk, four RBIs and two runs scored. The Bears scored seven runs on seven hits, stranding six runners.
Saldivar said it was just the type of start to the season the Bears’ 15 seniors were looking for.
“It’s pretty cool because we want to leave our legacy this year,” she said. “This is a big team with a lot of seniors, and we want our last season to be great.”
JDHS hosts North Pole in a doubleheader beginning at 5 p.m. today at Melvin Park.
Bears top Kings 13-4
Juneau-Douglas fought back from an early deficit to defeat Ketchikan 13-4 on Thursday in the nightcap of a doubleheader at Melvin Park.
JDHS pounded out 13 hits en route to the lopsided win over the Southeast Conference rival Kings.
Manager Dave Massey said he was pleased with team’s performance in their first home series of the year.
“I thought we played well,” he said. “They were pretty tight to start off with because they wanted to do well in front of the home crowd, but after they took a few deep breaths and relaxed a little bit, I thought we played better and better as the night went on.
“I thought we hit the ball consistently, fielded well and pitching was solid all night.”
Jennifer Nelson, who pitched the entire game for the Bears, gave up four runs while scattering nine hits and recording four strikeouts in her second outing of the day.
The Kings threatened to score in the top half of the first when Faith Clark hit a leadoff double, stole second and attempted to score on a fly ball, but left fielder Taylor Larson gunned her down at the plate to keep Ketchikan off the board.
The Kings squeezed across two runs in the second inning to take an early 2-0 lead. But Malin Murray’s second-inning solo homer cut the deficit in half. Ketchikan tacked on a run in the third with an RBI double by Chelsea Paulsen, scoring Clark — who led off with a double of her own — to up the score to 3-1 in favor of the Kings.
JDHS fought back to take the lead with a four-run third inning.
Megan Mauseth led off with a single, Larson reached on an error and Murray came through with a two-run single to give the Bears a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Kalea Chapman and Gabbie Saldivar also added RBIs in the inning. Larson extended the Bears’ lead in the fourth inning with an RBI triple to score Nelson, who had doubled. Larson later scored on a passed ball, pushing the Bears’ lead to four, 7-3.
JDHS added six more runs in the fifth inning to blow the game open and cruised on to its second victory of the evening.
Larson led the Crimson Bears attack with a 3-for-4 performance at the plate, with two RBIs and three runs scored. Murray contributed 3 RBIs, and Chapman added two hits and two runs scored.
JDHS is (2-0-1) on the year.