Juneau opens Western Regional softball tourney with loss

GCLL Majors take tough 11-0 setback from Washington
The GCLL Major Division Softball All-Stars. Kneeling, left-to-right: Skylar Hickok, Rachel Macauley, Abby Meiners, Mia Loree, Nina Fenumiai, and Morgan Balovich. Standing, l-r: Manager Scott Balovich, Maxie Saceda-Hurt, Leah Spargo, Peyton Harp, Megan Dallas, Kyra Jenkins, Maranda Markovich, and coach Brian Dallas. Not pictured is coach Dave Spargo.

From Alaska to California is never an easy weather adjustment for a vacation.


Imagine then if you have to work hard under the sun in 100-degrees before you get to relax.

"I don't think the heat was a big help," Gastineau Channel Little League's Skylar Hickok said. "But I don't think we were ready to play, our nerves were getting to us.  We are a little more confident now. I think we got them next time."

Juneau's GCLL Majors Softball All-Stars took a tough opening loss in the Western Regional Tournament under the San Bernardino, California heat on Friday, going hitless in an 11-0 mercy rule setback to Washington's Eastlake All Stars.

"I think the game should have ended 1-0," Juneau manager Scott Balovich said. "We dropped that one but this was not the same team I have ever seen before. We handed that game over. We got in our own way and you could see how tight we were in warm-ups. We just had a really, really, really bad night."

Juneau played even through the first two innings of the game as Leah Spargo kept the Washington lineup at bay with one strikeout and two walks and one single as her teammates fielded well behind her.

Juneau put four runners on base themselves but could not advance. Maxie Saceda-Hurt reached on an error and Megan Dallas walked, but a fielder's choice ended the first inning and Kyra Jenkins and Maranda Markovich walked but a double play stopped the action.

Washington struck for one run in the top of the third inning. Spargo walked the leadoff batter and then coaxed the next hitter into a ground out and struck out the next batter. A wild pitch scored the run. Rachel Macaulay fielded a ground ball to make the third out.

Juneau again put two runners on base in the bottom of the third as Maxie Saceda-Hurt reached on an error again and Megan Dallas drew her second walk, but a fielder's choice ended the inning.

Spargo struck out the first batter in the top of the fourth but a fielding error and a safe call on a fielder's choice started the base paths in motion for Washington. The Eastlake All-Stars would put 10 runs across the plate.

Juneau had one last chance and went down in a row as Spargo grounded out, and Skylar Hickok and Nina Fenumiai went down swinging.

Spargo started on the mound and threw into the fourth inning, delivering 91 pitches with 43 strikes, earning three strikeouts and allowing eight runs (1 earned) on four hits. Saceda-Hurt relieved in the fourth and threw 16 pitches with 7 strikes (3 R, 2 H, 2 BB).

Eastlake's Sophia Robinson went the four innings for the win, striking out five, walking four, and allowing no hits. Robinson threw 66 pitches with 36 strikes.

"That team did not beat us," Balovich said. "We beat ourselves, but I am very proud of these girls. They kept their chins up and they played with class in the face of a pretty big defeat. I had been worried about the huge stadium and the girls playing out there in the heat. Those first two innings we played very tough and then the wheels came off. They will come back and play some strong ball."

Eastlake is unique among the Washington State little league teams as they train at the Eastlake High School facility; no other club in their district does that. According to Eastlake's coach the facility is similar in size to Western Regional's Al Houghton Stadium.

"I honestly think our nerves got to us and we beat ourselves," Juneau's Abby Meiners said. "I think we can do way better and I just don't think we were ready to play. Now we know. We know how to play on this field, we know how the ball bounces, we have a better idea of our opponent and I think we are ready. It is so hot, but we will get over that."

Juneau's next Pool B opponent is Oregon at 10 a.m. on Monday, Idaho on Tuesday at 11 a.m., and Montana on Wednesday at 5 p.m. Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada, Northern California, Southern California and Utah are in Pool A. The top two teams from each pool move on to the single elimination semifinals on Thursday, July 25.



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Sat, 05/26/2018 - 21:14

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