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The pressure was on for Juneau-Douglas High School freshman pitcher Hannah Barril after sophomore Ashley Larson opened the Crimson Bears' three-game series with Ketchikan on Friday by throwing a no-hitter, then freshman Alicia Maryott followed with another no-hitter in Saturday's early game.
Could Barril match their performances and throw a third no-hitter for Juneau in Saturday's late game?
Barril, who threw a no-hitter against Ketchikan earlier this season, got through the first three innings without allowing a hit. But the no-hit weekend ended when Ketchikan first baseman Amanda Houts led off the fourth inning with a bleeder that landed just in front of Juneau senior left fielder Danielle Larson.
That was the only hit Juneau allowed all weekend, as the Crimson Bears beat the Kings 9-0 on Friday, 15-0 in a game called after four innings on Saturday afternoon and 10-0 in a game called after five innings later on Saturday at Melvin Park.
"It's an improvement," Barril said as she compared this weekend's series to Juneau's sweep in Ketchikan earlier this season, when the Crimson Bears allowed two hits in three games. "I wasn't feeling a lot of pressure. I knew if I could go out and pitch, my defense would back me up."
When Barril threw her no-hitter last month, Juneau head coach Dave Massey said it was the first one he could remember being thrown by a Crimson Bear in his dozen or so years associated with the program.
Since then, no-hitters have been a frequent occurrence for the Crimson Bears.
When Larson threw her no-hitter on Friday, it was her second in as many starts. Larson threw a no-hitter last Friday night against Sitka, but did allow one hit in three innings of relief work the next day against Sitka. Larson has allowed one hit in her last 17 innings of work.
"I was happy for the no-hitter, but I was disappointed by my walks," said Larson, who struck out 10 batters. "In the Sitka game I walked one. I walked four in this one. Against Sitka, with them I had to rely more on my teammates. I'm trying to work on my pitches."
Larson's no-hitter was preserved by some clutch defense in the seventh inning, as sophomore shortstop Jordan Johnston had to range deep into the hole to field a grounder for the first out. Then, after a walk, Johnston made a running catch in short left field and her throw to first completed the double play to end the game.
"It's what I do," Johnston said of her defense.
The top three hitters for Juneau - Johnston, catcher Nicole Bavard and first baseman Danielle Larson - accounted for six of the Crimson Bear runs, while Bavard, Danielle Larson and Rachel Barril each hit doubles.
A low-hit game might have been expected from Ashley Larson - since she's had several one- and two-hitters this season - but the performance by Maryott was a pleasant surprise. Maryott was moved into the rotation because freshman pitcher Torie Powers sprained her right ankle last Saturday against Sitka, and the longest Maryott had gone in a game this season was three innings. On Saturday afternoon, she faced one batter over the limit through four innings as her teammates helped keep her outing brief because of a 15-run mercy rule.
"I knew I walked a person, but I didn't know it was a no-hitter," said Maryott, who struck out eight batters. "It was just fun. I wasn't noticing (the no-hitter). Dave (Massey) told me I was doing more than throwing, because I was getting them out on my curve-drop and my screwball."
Maryott needed a running catch in the second inning by Danielle Larson in left field to protect her no-hitter. Larson, Juneau's only senior, celebrated her final weekend of home games by hitting a three-run homer in the third inning that bounced off the top of the fence in left field. She finished the game with a homer, a double, two runs scored and five RBIs.
"It felt really good when I hit it, but I didn't know it was gone until I saw Glen (Alt, who was coaching third base) signal me to keep going," Larson said. "We're a lot more confident in our hitting. It was my first one that I've hit in a game; I've had inside-the-park (homers) before but this was my first one over the fence."
The first two hitters - Johnston and Bavard - accounted for eight runs, while every starter except Ashley Larson scored at least once. Even though she didn't score, Ashley Larson still had three hits and four RBIs. Alycia Cox and Johnston hit doubles, with Johnston adding two RBIs.
In Saturday's late game, Hannah Barril struck out five batters and walked two. Danielle Larson made another running catch to save what was then a no-hitter in the second inning. Ketchikan's only serious threat came in the fifth inning when Kate Gallaway reached second on a two-base error by Johnston, took third on a wild pitch, but was thrown out at the plate when Allison Neterer grounded back to the pitcher.
Johnston, Danielle Larson, Melissa White and Hannah Barril scored two runs each, with Johnston and Bavard hitting doubles and Barril adding a triple for the Crimson Bears. Johnston, Bavard and Ashley Larson had two RBIs each, while Juneau had four hitters (including White twice) reach base on bunt singles.
"Three-for-three, that's my best," White said. "I love bunting. I just like bunting."
With the three victories, the Crimson Bears improved to 20-2 overall, 14-2 in Region V. Juneau, which has won 20 straight games, heads to Fairbanks later this week where it will try to defend its state championship. Ketchikan fell to 4-17 overall, 2-14 in Region V.
In junior varsity action at Melvin Park, Juneau beat Ketchikan 11-2 on Friday, then completed the sweep with an 8-0 and 10-1 victory on Saturday.
In middle school action, Schoenbar Middle School rallied from six runs down in the top of the sixth inning to beat the Juneau Midnight Suns 7-6 in Saturday's late game at Melvin Park to win the weekend series 2-1. Earlier on Saturday, Juneau won 3-1 at Lena Loop Field, while Schoenbar won 5-3 on Friday night at Lena Loop as Juneau was missing most of its eighth-graders due to a school function.
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.
CRIMSON BEARS 10, KINGS 0
Saturday's late game from Melvin Park
KETCHIKAN 000 00 - 0 1 5
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 130 14 - 10 14 1
(Game called with no outs in fifth inning, 10-run rule)
Ketchikan - Jones and Gallaway. Juneau-Douglas - H. Barril and Bavard. WP - H. Barril. LP - Jones. Sv - None. 2B - Ketchikan 0, Juneau-Douglas 2 (Johnston 1, Bavard 1). 3B - Ketchikan 0, Juneau-Douglas 1 (H. Barril 1). HR - None.
CRIMSON BEARS 15, KINGS 0
Saturday's early game from Melvin Park
KETCHIKAN 000 0 - 0 0 6
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 228 3 - 15 16 0
(Game called with one out in fourth inning, 15-run rule)
Ketchikan - May and Houts. Juneau-Douglas - Maryott and Bavard. WP - Maryott. LP - May. Sv - None. 2B - Ketchikan 0, Juneau-Douglas 3 (D. Larson 1, Cox 1, Johnston 1). 3B - None. HR - Ketchikan 0, Juneau-Douglas 1 (D. Larson 1).
CRIMSON BEARS 9, KINGS 0
Friday's game from Melvin Park
KETCHIKAN 000 000 0 - 0 0 8
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 103 122 x - 9 9 1
Ketchikan - Loughman, May (6) and Gallaway. Juneau-Douglas - A. Larson and Bavard. WP - A. Larson. LP - Loughman. Sv - None. 2B - Ketchikan 0, Juneau-Douglas 3 (Bavard 1, D. Larson 1, R. Barril 1). 3B - None. HR - None.