With just one senior on their roster at the state tournament, and a regular season of just two graduates, the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears softball team wasn’t even supposed to contend with the powerhouses of Alaska.
Yet here they were. Playing on the sun kissed grass of the state championships, knocking off a good team or two, taking a few lumps and taking each inning to heart on the way to a fourth place state finish.
On Saturday morning the Crimson Bears fell to Chugiak 4-0 to end their season.
“It was pretty rough I guess,” senior Ashli Kikendall said. “We gave it our all this year. Our coach asked us if someone jumped on our teammates back in an alley who would jump in to help, and we all would. I will look back on this season and at how well this young team did. I am really proud of them.”
The Crimson Bears won the Highest Grade Point Average trophy and placed sophomore Emma Good on the All-State Tournament team.
“I think we did good by keeping ourselves up when something went bad this year,” Good’s classmate Randi Held said. “We made some errors but we always came back and just flushed it and went for it and we are a young team so we will be back next year.
We always picked each other up. We didn’t let anything get to us, and that is hard to do, we had a really good mental game, it was just a couple mistakes that cost us some runs.”
The Crimson Bears opened state play on Friday with a 13-1 win over Service, lost a 6-5 thriller against West, and defeated West Valley 13-5 to earn the final game on Saturday morning.
“I thought we really came together as a team,” Junior Malin Murray said. “We just struggled a little bit, which is something you can’t do at a state tournament. We are a really young team and we will definitely be back next year. I think we are going to come back and kick some butt.”
Coach Dave Massey stated, “You always like to win and the coaching staff came up here with the idea we were going to win, but it was a very young group and the fact that we didn’t win isn’t a shock, but it was disappointing. The girls really wanted it and they tried their hardest until the end. Our pitching was outstanding and, for the most part, our hitting was real good until we faced the very best pitchers other teams had to offer and we fought to get some hard hits. Our defense got better as the tournament progressed.
We are young and will be back, That’s called experience.. they learn from their mistakes and they react. They learn to react from experience. As a group they were outstanding.”
Added sophomore Kayla Balovich, “Our season started young, we are young. But we definitely improved and came together as a team this season and we really showed that at the state tournament. We surprised people and we will be back next season.”
Game stats and more photos will run in Monday’s edition.
• Contact Sports Editor Klas Stolpe at 523-2228 or at email@example.com.