The Juneau-Douglas High School softball team celebrated its senior night Wednesday by finishing the regular season undefeated.
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The Crimson Bears (19-0) defeated Sitka 4-2. For eight seniors, it was also their final game at Melvin Park in a Juneau-Douglas uniform.
"Looking at the kids, it's tough not to cloud up," JDHS coach Dave Massey said. "It's tough to let go."
With the Railbelt Conference already in hand and a trip to the state tournament in Anchorage assured, the pressure was off the Crimson Bears.
A number of seniors who don't normally see much action with the varsity played significant innings Wednesday and contributed in a number of ways.
After Emily Conway and Megan Fordell scored for Sitka in the first inning, a JDHS senior helped ignite the Crimson Bears' offense in the bottom half of the inning.
With Torie Powers on second and two out, senior Val Ozawa stroked an RBI single up the middle to cut the Wolves' lead to 2-1.
Ozawa, a former Sitka student, went 1-for-2 in her final game at home.
"That was real sweet," Massey said. "It was really prophetic because it was against Sitka, where she came from. That was a neat deal for her, I'm sure."
Sara Manning tied the score at two in the second inning by singling in Sammy Roguska.
JDHS put the game away in the fifth with two runs. Madison Massey drove in Torie Powers and Hannah Barril with a two-out single to put the Crimson Bears ahead for good.
Katie Laliberte didn't allow a hit in three innings of relief, and picked up the win. Powers allowed two unearned runs in two innings as a starter and Barril pitched two perfect innings in middle relief for JDHS.
"Off the field we all get along great and it's great that we can just take that onto the field and all play together even though we don't have the experience together," said senior Alycia Cox.
Cox, who played catcher instead of her normal center field on Wednesday, belted two doubles to lead Juneau's offense.
Powers scored twice, Barril added a run and Roguska singled and scored in the win.
Up next for Juneau-Douglas will be the state tournament at Cartee Fields in Anchorage.
The two-time defending champion Crimson Bears will practice Tuesday and Wednesday before heading north.
"We don't change things too much," Dave Massey said of preparing for the state tourney. "We just kind of tweak what we perceive our weaknesses are and work on keeping our strengths strong and work on anything we might see at state that we haven't seen a lot of."
For the second straight season, JDHS will enter the state tournament with an unblemished record.
"I think it just says a lot about our experience together and just what we've accomplished," Cox said of the undefeated record. "But I think what it all comes down to is preparing for state. When we get there, 19-0 won't mean anything unless we can pull out another state championship."
Wednesday also marked the end of the Juneau-Douglas junior varsity season.
Randi Chernikoff scattered eight hits over six innings as JDHS defeated Sitka 9-6 Wednesday in the junior varsity game.
Trixie Abella went 2-for-3 with two runs scored, Nethia Lavering tripled and scored twice and Lii Levale doubled and scored twice in the win.
Also for JDHS, Ozawa singled, Janice Barribeau doubled and scored and Chelsy Rivera went 2-for-3 with two runs scored.
On Tuesday, Lourdes Andes belted a home run over the fence as the Crimson Bears defeated Sitka 10-3.
Chernikoff earned the pitching win, striking out six batters in five innings of work. She also went 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored.
Lavering tripled and scored twice, Ashliegh Wilwert had two runs scored while Abella, Rachel Peyton and Nicole Young scored one run each in the win.
Taelyn Coffee had two doubles and a run scored and Ozawa hit a single for JDHS.
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at email@example.com
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