Both Juneau-Douglas High School softball coach Dave Massey and Sitka coach Mike Hagan think this year's Crimson Bears could be one of the best Juneau teams in school history - maybe better than the two state champion squads.
But that didn't stop the Wolves from stealing a game from the Crimson Bears this weekend as Juneau posted a 2-1 record at Sitka's Vilandre Memorial Field.
The Crimson Bears (4-4 overall, 2-1 in Alaska) won the opener 2-0 on Friday. But on Saturday the Wolves took the early game 4-3 before Juneau won the late game 16-0.
"I thought we made a lot of mental mistakes," Massey said. "We ran ourselves out of some big innings in the first inning of the first two games. We didn't do that in the third game and that made a load of difference. ... We created our own hole and Sitka took advantage of it."
"To win a game today means we had a successful weekend," Hagan said.
In Friday's game, Juneau junior Ashley Larson threw a complete-game two-hitter to blank the Wolves (1-2 overall), while Sitka pitcher Kelsey Hagan allowed just five hits.
Juneau scored its first run in the third inning when sophomore Hannah Barril drew a one-out walk, then scored one out later on an overthrow of the infield after junior Jordan Johnston singled. In the fourth inning, senior Rachel Barril doubled and scored on a double by junior Ilea Belcourt to make it 2-0.
Sitka twice threatened to score, but Larson was able to escape runners in scoring position. Natalia Potrzuski tripled and was stranded at third in the third inning, while Tawny Hoyt walked and stole second in the sixth inning. Sitka's other hit was a single by Kelsey Hagan in the first inning.
"We were close to winning these," Mike Hagan said. "This whole weekend mirrored last year's first weekend (when Sitka won two close games before Juneau won the third game in a blowout). If we had a break in the first game, it might have been just like it."
In Saturday's early game, Sitka took advantage of an error and a slippery ball from the rain to score the game-winning run with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning. The game was shortened an inning because of a time limit.
Sitka struck first with three runs in the first inning. Emily Gluth's two-run triple scored Tawny Hoyt and Julia Gluth, then Emily Gluth scored on a passed ball.
Juneau scored twice in the fifth inning as junior Melissa White scored on a pop-up to first base by Johnston and Hannah Barril scored on a single by Larson.
In the top of the sixth inning, Juneau twice loaded the bases but could only manage one run. Belcourt singled, sophomore Alycia Cox walked and White reached on an error to load the bases, then Belcourt scored on a passed ball. Hannah Barril singled to reload the bases. But the next hitter, sophomore Torie Powers, hit a line drive to shortstop Julia Gluth, who threw to third to double off Barril and end the inning.
Sitka scored the game-winner in the bottom of the sixth when Ashley Norman reached on an error, stole second, took third on a passed ball and came home when Potrzuski singled to right to end the game.
"The only time they scored was in the rain," Massey said.
In Saturday's second game, Sitka made some lineup changes to test some younger players and Larson threw a perfect game before it ended in the third inning because of the 15-run mercy rule.
Johnston drove in four runs with two two-run singles, while junior Nicole Bavard, sophomore Alicia Maryott and Powers had two RBIs each for Juneau. Hannah Barril and Cox scored three runs each, while Larson and Powers scored twice apiece for the Crimson Bears.
"The kids need to work on the mental game," Massey said. "It's probably a good thing we have some time off so we can work on getting our heads in the right place. We need to relax and play the game the way we know how."
"There's no better team to evaluate talent against than Juneau," said Hagan, who is replacing six starters from last year's state tournament team. "If you go up against some of the weaker teams everyone hits like stars. This helps us get ready. We're still sorting things out for our next series in Anchorage."
Scores weren't available for the junior varsity or C team games, but the Juneau JV went 3-0 and the C team was 2-1 for the weekend. Linescores for the varsity games will run later this week.
The Crimson Bear varsity will be off for the next two weekends, but the junior varsity team will make a trip to Anchorage on April 29-May 1 (the varsity team doesn't have enough open games on its schedule because of its Arizona trip in March).
Massey said the Crimson Bears might hold an intrasquad game about 4 p.m. on Wednesday at Melvin Park.
Also, the JDHS softball team hosts its spaghetti feed with seatings at 5:30 and 7 p.m. on Friday at ANB Hall. Meal tickets are $7.50 for adults, $22.50 for families, $5 for senior citizens and children age 6-12, and kids age 5-younger eat free. Tickets are available from team members or at the door.