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Crimson Bears senior third baseman Li'i Levale helped her classmates make the most of their final home game Saturday morning, uncorking a towering two-run third-inning homer and picking up some bruises for the road as the Juneau-Douglas High School softball team stayed perfect with a 7-2 victory over Railbelt Conference rival Colony at Melvin Park.
Levale's Senior Night appeared headed on a painful course in the first inning, as she approached the plate with one out, the bases loaded and her team already down 1-0. The third-year varsity member quickly fell behind in the count, as she swung and shanked a painful strike two squarely into her left thigh. After walking off the blow, though, Levale lifted a high-arching sacrifice fly near the fence in center field to score Kalea Chapman and kick off a three-run rally that helped JDHS control the game early.
Another senior, Rachel Peyton, followed Levale with her only hit of the game - a high-flying knock that finally landed just fair between the scrambling Colony right fielder and first baseman, plating the final two runs of the inning.
Neither team scored in the second inning, but the Crimson Bears (9-0 overall, 4-0 Railbelt Conference) saw their lead shrink to 3-2 in the top of the third. JDHS's Brittany Fenumiai doubled with one out in the bottom of the inning to score senior catcher Darby Brown. The uncertainty of that two-run lead lasted just three pitches. Then, Levale blasted her two-run shot over the wall in left-center, along with a taller fence 10 feet behind it, crippling a sapling when it finally found the ground.
"That's probably the hardest I've hit a ball this year," said Levale, wiping away tears after the game. "I just wanted to get out of here with something to remember and something to enjoy. I've been playing with these girls for as long as I can remember - probably since we were seven (years old)."
Levale singled home Fenumiai for the game's final run with a shot to left in the bottom of the fifth, and her night ended, fittingly, with a ball to the thigh. Actually, a wayward Colony pitch grazed her pant leg as she stepped out of the way in the bottom of the sixth, drawing giggles from Levale and groans from her family as she was awarded her base.
"I didn't feel anything, but I guess it hit something," Levale said. "It didn't phase me."
Levale finished 2-for-2 at the plate with a walk and a game-high four runs batted in.
As usual, Fenumiai pitched the first three innings for JDHS, racking up six strikeouts while allowing three walks, two hits and hitting one batter. Fenumiai was also a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate with a single, double and triple. She knocked in one run and scored three times.
Jennifer Nelson tossed the final four innings, allowing no hits and just one walk with one strikeout.
Brown was 3-for-4, including a double, and scored two runs in her final home game.
Senior Nani Toetuu, a first-year softball player, picked up her first start in the contest and finished 0-for-2 despite making solid contact. Toetuu did pick up the final out of the game, though, as she got under a foul fly ball in left field at a full sprint.
All five seniors - Brown, Peyton, Levale, Toetuu and Massey - were acknowledged, along with their parents, with balloons and candy necklaces following the game.
The start time of Saturday's varsity game was moved to 10 a.m. to allow the players more time to prepare for prom later Saturday night.
The Crimson Bears resume their schedule when they leave Friday to Anchorage for two games against Wasilla and a possible rematch with Colony. On Sunday, they will fly to Fairbanks for two games apiece versus West Valley and North Pole.
JDHS - Massey 0-4, Chapman 0-1, Hart 0-1, Krista Barril 0-1, Brown 3-4, Fenumiai 3-3, Peyton 1-3, Hansen 1-1, Saldobar 0-0, Toetuu 0-2, Udbipa 0-1, Nelson 0-2.
JDHS 18, Colony 0
Levale and Peyton helped make quick work of Colony on Friday night, as the Crimson Bears nearly had double the runs needed to enact the mercy rule after just four innings.
JDHS scored three runs in the second inning, nine runs in the third inning and six more in the fourth to take the commanding victory.
Levale started her weekend with a 3-for-4 effort that included an RBI triple and two runs scored. Peyton was 2-for-3 in the game, including an RBI double and three runs scored.
No other Crimson Bear had more than one hit, and the coaches emptied the bench late.
Fenumiai worked the first two innings of JDHS's no-hitter, racking up six strikeouts and allowing two walks. Nelson tossed the latter two innings, getting two strikeouts while allowing two hits and two walks.
JDHS - Massey 0-2, Megan Mauseth 1-3, Chapman 0-0, Brown 1-2, Fenumiai 1-3, Levale 3-4, Peyton 2-3, Nelson 1-3, Barril 1-3.