The Gastineau Channel Little League Juniors Softball All-Stars suffered their first loss at the Western Regional Tournament in Tucson, Arizona, on Tuesday, falling 6-5 to undefeated Montana in a semifinal matchup.
“That was a tough one,” Juneau manager Jun Maiquis said. “We still had a chance to get it but we fell a little short.”
The loss puts Juneau into an elimination game against the Northern California today at 6:30 p.m. N. California beat Southern California 5-2 in another elimination game on Tuesday.
“I am really proud of the girls,” Maiquis said. “They did not give up in the game.”
Montana scored four runs in the bottom of the first inning and two in the bottom of the third to take a commanding 6-0 lead.
“They jumped on us in the first inning,” Maiquis said. “The girls are just too excited and jittery, then they get their composure back.”
Juneau got productive in the top of the fifth with four runs as Erica Maiquis (2-4, 3 RBI, 1 RS) and Quincy Bates (1-4, 1 RS, 1 SO) hit two-run doubles. Sophie Hultberg (1-3, 1 SO) singled to left field to start the inning but was put out on a fielder’s choice hit by Taylor Beardslee (0-1). Alondra Echiverri (1-3, 1 RS) singled and Erika Holst (0-1, 1 RS) reached on an error to load the bases. Jordan Harris 1-4, 1 RS, 1 SO) went down swinging for the second out. Maiquis then hit a hard ground ball through the infield to center scoring Beardslee and Echiverri. Bates followed with a line drive to center that scored Holst and Maiquis.
Juneau looked to be completing the comeback in the top of the seventh. Harris led off with a triple to right field and Maiquis sacrificed her home with a ground ball to the short stop. Bates hit a fly out to center for the second out and Makayla Harp (1-4, 2 RBI) ground out to third base for the final play.
Juneau stranded Harp on base in the second inning, Maiquis in the fourth, and Hultberg and Maddie Johnson (1-2) in the sixth.
Sami Good (0-3, 1 SO), Amanda Bicknell (0-1) and Haleigh DiCarlo (0-1) had plate appearances.
Maiquis took the loss for Juneau, throwing 76 pitches with 48 strikes over three innings, striking out one batter and walking four, and allowing six runs on six hits, (1 home run).
Bates relieved in the fourth inning and finished the game (45-24, 4 H, 4 BB).
Montana’s Rosenbaum went the distance for the win (86-70, 3 K, 8 H, 5 R).
Montana’s first inning runs came as A. Gagner (1-1, 1 RS, 3 BB) walked, C. McKillop (1-4, 1 RBI, 1 RS) singled and S. Hardy (2-3, 2 RS, 1 BB) singled to score Gagner. J. Haran (3-4, 3 RBI, 1 RS) then homered to clear the bases.
In the fourth Hardy doubled, J. Schafer (0-2, 1 RS, 2 BB) walked and Hardy scored on a sacrifice by H. Hirning (0-1, 1 RBI). K. Rosenbaum (1-3, 1 RBI) bunted Schafer across the plate.
“No excuses,” Maiquis said. “It was a great game. If we play like we finished the game we will be fine. We made them nervous at the end. Now we just need to make people nervous at the beginning and start a new winning streak.”
If Juneau beats Northern California today they will play in the championship against Montana on Thursday at 5 p.m. and, if they win that game, again at 7:30 p.m. as it will be Montana’s first loss. The winner of the Western Regional moves on to the Junior League Softball World Series in Kirkland, Washington, August 11-17.