If the past three games played by the Gastineau Channel Little League majors softball all star team is any indication of things to come in their athletic future, parents in Juneau are going to age a lot faster than they should... and have a few more ulcers, sore throats, and various other stress related illnesses. Anchorage parents as well.
“Oh man it was another tough one,” Juneau manager Scott Balovich said. “I am really proud of the kids. They battled and battled and battled. It started to look like the first two games where we were in command for most of the game and we lost just a bit of intensity. Then they came roaring back and then we came roaring back.”
For the third straight game the Juneau team came up just short against Anchorage’s City View in the Alaska State Majors all Star Softball Tournament at Melvin Park.
Facing elimination on Sunday, and trailing 10-15 heading into their final at bat in the sixth inning, Juneau put together another rally for the ages.
Singles by Leah Spargo and Abby Meiners and a walk to Alondra Echiverri loaded the bases with no outs.
Maxie Saceda-Hurt singled an RBI for 11-15.
Haleigh DiCarlo singled an RBI for 12-15.
Allison Ireland-Haight singled in 2 RBI for 14-15.
Megan Dallas drew a walk.
Yet once again City View proved that they were a talented team too.
“What was amazing about our girls, and Juneau’s, was that there was never a give up,” City View coach Jeff Barnhart said. “This was our fourth game, including our finals at districts, that we were behind. This is one of those little league moments where you are just incredibly proud about how grown up they were and how much of a team they were. And all of a sudden Juneau just fought back... I was thinking, oh man here we go again. Juneau hits really well.”
After an infield fly for an out the Anchorage team fielded a hard ground shot by Morgan Balovich and got a force at home, and then they barely threw the speedy Spargo out at first to end the game.
City View advances to the Western Regional Tournament in California and Juneau will use the series as another teaching tool for future years.
“Juneau has a solid set of girls for sure,” Barnhart said. “I don’t think our girls expected to be treated so well with the sportsmanship and friendliness here. The girls were just amazed at how awesome Juneau was to them.”
It wasn’t easy for City View.
Megan Dallas walked and stole a base in the first inning and gave Juneau a 1-0 lead as Peyton Harp doubled her home. City View clawed back in the first as Daisy Page and Eva Damrill scored on passed balls and Julia Tosi scored on a Jaya Samuel single. Kellie Stewart walked to score Mackenzie Barnhart and Samuel was alert to score on another passed ball.
“We did cut down on our mistakes,” Balovich said. “The girls knew this was win or stay home. I was just really proud on how they came out and just kept fighting. They took an arrow in the forehead instead of one in the back, so to speak. And I was proud of them for that. You have to give them respect for that. They did not turn around and run.”
Trailing 5-1 Juneau used the second inning to rally. Walks to Sami Good, Echiverri and Saceda-Hurt loaded the bases and DiCarlo doubled to close the score to 5-3. A walk to Rachel Macaulay and then a dropped third strike to speedster Dallas caused a flurry on the bases that scored DiCarlo and Saceda-Hurt to tie the game.
Juneau used the third inning to take control. Harp hit a first pitch single and scored on Balovich’s double. A walk by Spargo and single by Good loaded the bases and a sacrifice fly by Echiverri made it 7-5.
Saceda-Hurt than cleared the remaining bases with an in the park home run that scored Spargo, Good and herself for a 10-5 lead.
City View whittled away at the point spread as Rebecca Syrup singled and scored on a passed ball and Damrill hit a liner to score Amanda Boeckman. A passed ball allowed Page, who drew an early inning walk, to score from third to narrow the lead to 10-8.
Juneau left the bases loaded in the top of the fourth. City View used their half of the inning to tie as Cynthia Wright singled and scored on Tosi’s double and Tosi scored on a passed ball.
Juneau left two runners on in the fifth inning. City View scored five runs as Page hit a double that was bobbled and scored Syrup and Olivia Webster. Wright singled scoring Page and Tosi singled scoring Damrill and Tala Lauvele singled scoring Wright.
The 15-10 cushion looked large but Juneau’s heart was larger and GCLL began the anticlimactic push back to a near win.
“And the crowd was amazing,” Balovich said. “Juneau came out and supported these kids and they really responded to having so many fans cheering them on. I am really proud of the girls. They played hard and it was a tough way to go out.”
Juneau pitched Spargo, Ireland-Haight and Dallas. City View went the distance with Syrup.
The Juneau majors will lose just four from this talented roster as Alondra Echiverri, Sami Good, Haleigh DiCarlo and Allison Ireland-Haight age into the juniors division. City View loses Julia Tosi, Alyssa Sands, Tala Lauvale and Eva Damrill.
“City View will represent Alaska well,” Balovich said. “They are a good team. They don’t give up either. In all three games we had them pinned down and they came back. I wish them well. We want them to represent Alaska well. They were a classy crew and the whole tournament was a fun tournament.”