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Even though the Juneau-Douglas High School softball team was missing half its roster, the defending state champion Crimson Bears clinched a return trip to the state tournament with a 10-1 victory over Prince of Wales on Monday night in Craig.
Juneau, which has yet to play a home game this season, had five key players return home after the Crimson Bears swept three games from Ketchikan over the weekend. Juneau coach Dave Massey said the players wanted to keep up with their academic work, not because they're struggling but because they want to stay on the honor roll. The Crimson Bears will have missed seven of the last 10 school days when this road trip is over.
"We played pretty well," Massey said. "We got off pretty slow, but we got going after a couple of innings. We brought up Sara Manning and Katie Damian from the JV team and they both contributed. Katie scored three runs and Sara scored a run and had an RBI for us."
Juneau freshman pitcher Torie Powers led the Crimson Bears (11-2 overall, 5-2 Region V) to their 11th straight victory, as she threw a five-hitter and drove in three runs on offense. Powers struck out seven batters and issued just two walks.
Sophomore third baseman Ilea Belcourt and sophomore catcher Nicole Bavard both hit inside-the-park home runs for the Crimson Bears, while freshman shortstop Hannah Barril and Damian both hit triples.
Juneau scored two runs in the third inning as Damian singled, Barril hit an RBI triple and Powers followed with an RBI single.
Prince of Wales scored its only run in the fourth inning when Jill May doubled and came around to score.
The Crimson Bears made it 4-1 in the fifth inning as sophomore Jordan Johnston hit a two-out single, then Belcourt hit her inside-the-park homer.
In the sixth inning, Juneau added two more runs as freshman Alicia Maryott drew walk and scored on Damian's triple, then Powers singled home Damian to make it 6-1.
The Crimson Bears added four runs in the seventh inning as Bavard hit her homer, Alycia Cox walked and stole a base, Manning singled Cox home, Damian walked, Barril singled home Manning and Powers singled home Damian.
For the game, Johnston went 3-for-4, Powers was 3-for-5, Damian went 2-for-3, Bavard was 2-for-4 and Barril went 2-for-5. The Crimson Bears had 15 hits.
Juneau will play Prince of Wales again today at 3:30 p.m., then heads home on Wednesday. The Crimson Bears will host their first home games of the season when Prince of Wales comes to Juneau to play two games Friday and Saturday at Melvin Park. Tentative game times are 6 p.m. for varsity each night, with junior varsity games at 1 and 3 p.m. each day.
"It's pretty nice, actually," Massey said about clinching a state berth before Juneau's first home game. "That'll be nice. We won't have that pressure building."
Juneau hosts Ketchikan for three games on May 23-24 and Sitka for three games on May 30-31, then heads to Fairbanks for the state tournament on June 5-6 at Hez Ray Fields.
CRIMSON BEARS 10, CRAIG-POW 1
Monday's game from Craig High School
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 002 022 4 - 10 15 2
CRAIG-PRINCE OF WALES 000 100 0 - 1 5 2
Juneau-Douglas - Powers and Bavard. Prince of Wales - Miller and Douville. WP - Powers, 3-0. LP - Miller, rna. Sv - None. 2B - Juneau-Douglas 0, Prince of Wales 1 (May 1). 3B - Juneau-Douglas 2 (Damian 1, H. Barril 1), Prince of Wales 0. HR - Juneau-Douglas 2 (Belcourt 1, Bavard 1), Prince of Wales 0.