Junior varsity teams never get any mention in the newspaper or on the radio, but Saturday night's JV girls softball game bears mention. All players are welcome on a JV team as opposed to a varsity team. You have girls who have been playing ball since they were little Little Leaguers and girls who have never picked up a bat, ball or glove. Second, it is a very short season, and thus hard to get these girls to think like a team, let alone act like one. But the more experienced girls on the JDHS JV team took the newer players under their wings and shared strategies and demonstrated how the game is not only played, but won.
The progress and improvement the team made from its first day of practice to the final game was remarkable. They were undefeated in their seven games played last Thursday, Friday and Saturday against Prince of Wales, Ketchikan and Sitka. But that isn't the most remarkable thing.
Seven games in three days is a feat for the best teams, but add the lousy weather we had and the inexperience of half the team, and the tale is even more astounding. Picture it! Game 7 for the JV Bears, and their first meeting with Sitka at 7 Saturday night. The JV Bears had just defeated Ketchikan and were looking pretty tired and lackluster in the final innings of that game. When Sitka took the field to warm up, they looked sharp and fresh. They took an early lead of 3-0. Juneau just couldn't put anything together in the first three innings, and then in the fourth inning they seemed to get their second wind. Sharp fielding by the third baseman, shortstop and second baseman kept the score down to one additional run for Sitka, and Juneau's bats heated up to tie the score 4-4. In the last regular inning a long fly ball was hit to right field, and standing out there was a young lady who had never even seen the game played before this year, Katarina Musiol, the foreign exchange student from Germany. As the ball arced out to her, we held our breaths and when she caught it, there was laughter and cheers from her teammates and a glorious blush of pride and excitement on Katarina's face. The fans all chanted her name as that retired the side and Juneau was up to bat. The score remained tied when the umpire advised the teams that time had run out and the international sudden death overtime would begin. Juneau managed to hold Sitka scoreless in that first overtime at-bat and then Juneau was up.
Katarina was the first batter. Leslie Lozada was put on second base, per international rules. Katarina had two strikes against her after two bunt attempts and the coach told her to swing away. From my vantage point, she looked a little perplexed. Sitka had pulled their regular pitcher and put in a varsity pitcher. And then the kind of thing that only happens in movies and daydreams happened for Katarina. I wish her parents and family could have seen it. Katarina hit the ball and won the game. Everyone was laughing, crying, cheering. It was one of those rare moments when you are glad to be alive, and so happy for someone else. The girls all surrounded her with heartfelt congratulations. They had their pictures taken and all signed a game ball for Katarina to take home with her. And they awarded her the "spork" that had been to every game. These girls became a "team" in every sense of the word, and they all deserve a pat on the back and high praise for their accomplishments.