The Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears shutout the Ketchikan High School Kings in the final three games of the regular season this weekend, winning the Southeast Conference softball championship and solidifying themselves as a top contender to defend their state title.
JDHS beat Ketchikan 15-0 on Friday, then 15-0 and 6-0 on Saturday afternoon at Melvin Park.
In the opening game of Saturday's doubleheader, Juneau came out swinging and took a 5-0 lead by the end of the first inning.
Senior Jordan Johnston rocketed a shot into left-center field in the second inning, scoring two runs and igniting an offensive surge. Ashley Larson doubled later in the inning, scoring two runs and bringing the score to 13-0.
In the third inning, the JDHS bats remained hot as Ilea Belcourt hit a two-run triple to end the contest.
"I think offensively, we had a lot of people who were hitting and they were solid hits," Larson said. "They were nice gap hits in the outfield. Our offense definitely got us started."
"We hit really good," said senior Nicole Bavard. "We haven't really been struggling hitting, but it just felt good to know, to have the confidence in our hitting."
In the second half of Saturday's doubleheader, Larson pitched tough and got the first six batters of the game out, including four via the strikeout. Belcourt set the offensive tone in the second inning, crushing a double over the left fielder's head.
Some defensive mistakes by Ketchikan left the door open for JDHS to capitalize and Juneau went up 6-0 by the end of the third inning.
The Kings regrouped and kept the Bears scoreless for the rest of the game.
"Juneau, they're just a tough team, I don't know if there's anybody around who's going to beat them, certainly not in this state this year," said Ketchikan coach Joe Austin.
Austin said he would have liked to have seen a closer competition, but said he was pleased with how his young team - with no seniors and only one junior - played against a very skilled Juneau team.
"When you come up and you're not full strength anyway and then have to go up against a team like Juneau, things happen like what happened. You get beat - real bad."
Larson said she is happy that the team won the region title but said she is looking forward to the state tournament.
"You kind of got to look forward," she said. "We're glad that we are (region champs) but we want to look forward to state and how good we do up there."
In Friday's 15-0 victory, Hannah Barril went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and three runs scored runs for the Bears, Bavard went 2-for-3 with two doubles and three RBIs, Larson doubled twice and drove in three runs and Johnston doubled, singled and drove in three runs.
In Saturday's 15-0 victory, Andrea Doerflinger and Johnston each went 2-for-2 with a double and three RBIs.
In Saturday's 6-0 victory, Katie Laliberte went 3-for-3 with two RBIs, Larson went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs and Belcourt doubled twice.
"We didn't give up any runs in three games," JDHS coach Dave Massey said. "We had solid pitching and our defense played well and the hitters hit pretty well, so we'll see how we do against the Anchorage and Fairbanks teams."