ANCHORAGE - Emotionally spent and physically drained, the Juneau-Douglas High School softball team watched Eagle River accept the Alaska State Large School championship after Saturday's 4-2 loss.
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Many of the Crimson Bears showed emotion with tears and hugs following after the Wolves' ended Juneau-Douglas' two-year reign as state champs. After playing four games in nine hours Saturday at Cartee Fields, however, the team expressed pride in fighting back from the loser's bracket and enduring a marathon session of softball.
"It's just overwhelming that it's over," JDHS center fielder Alycia Cox said as tears intermingled with the dust on her face. "I'm not sad at all that we lost because there's no reason to be. Everyone did their part, and it just didn't happen for us."
After losing to Eagle River 5-2 in the first game on Saturday, JDHS fell to the loser's bracket of the double-elimination tournament.
The Crimson Bears (23-2) rallied to defeat Lathrop 13-8 and then beat the Wolves 4-0 to force the final showdown.
Juneau-Douglas gave up one run in the first and three more in the second as Eagle River (21-2) won the title in its first year of existence as a school.
"I think they'll sleep well tonight," JDHS coach Dave Massey said of his team. "That's why you have to be really proud of these girls. There wasn't any give up or quit in them. They fought to then end and just ran out of time."
Saturday proved not only emotionally taxing, but physically exhausting as well.
Shortstop Torie Powers aggravated an elbow injury in the first game against Eagle River while third baseman Madison Massey broke a knuckle on her right hand after handling a line drive.
Through the injuries, JDHS still managed to force a final championship game.
"That's our team," Cox said. "That's how we play softball. That's why we've been here so many times. That's why we made it here through the loser's bracket."
In the final game, Eagle River took advantage of Juneau-Douglas miscues to get ahead.
Eagle River scored first, due to quick base running. Jamie Weinburger struck out but reached first when the third strike got behind JDHS catcher Kayla Janelle.
She stole second, was sacrificed to third and scored off Andrea Waters' single.
While that run stung the Crimson Bears, the second inning proved crippling.
Eagle River's Molly Metcalf led off the bottom of the second with a double and later scored on two separate throwing errors.
After Nicole Galligan walked, leadoff hitter Tori Herbert laid down a two-out bunt. She made it to first and came all the way home on a throwing error to make the score 4-0.
"I think that was a sign of us getting tired was that (Juneau's defense) was what ultimately failed us in the last game," Massey said. "Our throws kind of went astray. I don't think they would admit it, but I'm sure there's a sore arm or two."
Juneau-Douglas' Andrea Doerflinger cut Eagle River's lead in half in the sixth with a two-run double, scoring All-Tournament selections Hannah Barril and Sammy Roguska.
It was as close as JDHS got however.
"I'm just elated," Eagle River coach Doug Callison said. "We started with 18 girls trying out for our program and this is what you see left. They deserve everything they get out there."
Doerflinger allowed just three hits in six innings in the final. She pitched 23 innings in four games Saturday.
"I'm pretty exhausted," Doerflinger said with a laugh. "I thought my arm was going to fall off out there. I was pretty tired."
Eagle River pitcher Herbert allowed four hits over six innings with eight strikeouts in the win.
The game marked the final high school contest for Juneau-Douglas seniors Cox, Barril, Powers, Sara Manning and Katie Laliberte.
The quintet gave and received hugs from teammates, coaches and fans after the contest.
"I'm really happy with how we played," Doerflinger said. "We did a great job. We did the best we could. I'm sorry we couldn't pull it out for our seniors because they're such a great group of girls."
Juneau-Douglas 4, Eagle River 0
Juneau-Douglas handed Eagle River its first loss of the tournament and forced a championship rematch in the third game on Saturday.
Andrea Doerflinger pitched a seven-inning shutout with three strikeouts in the win.
All of Juneau-Douglas' runs came in the sixth inning as Torie Powers plated Sara Manning with an RBI single and later scored herself on a throwing error.
After Hannah Barril walked and Sammy Roguska reached first on a fielder's choice, Doerflinger crushed a two-run single to complete the game's scoring.
The junior went 2-for-3 in the win with a double.
JDHS played solid defense. The team committed two errors, but neither runner got further than second.
Third baseman Madison Massey broke a knuckle on her left hand when she caught a line drive by Tori Herbert. Massey finished off the inning but was replaced by Cortney Wagner and spent the rest of the tournament in a sling.
Juneau-Douglas 13, Lathrop 8 8 innings
Juneau-Douglas kept its championship dreams alive with a 10-run eighth inning against Lathrop in an elimination game.
With the score tied 3-3 after seven innings, JDHS sent 13 batters to the plate to upend the pesky Malemutes.
Nicole Fenumiai and Andrea Doerflinger each hit two-run singles, Kayla Janelle added an RBI single and Hannah Barril drove in a run in the inning.
Torie Powers, Barril, Sammy Roguska, Carrie Laliberte, Alycia Cox, Fenumiai, Sara Manning and Janelle all scored in the pivotal inning.
Lathrop nearly pulled off the upset in the seventh. The Malemutes, playing as the home team, entered the seventh trailing 3-0.
Chloe Johnson cut Juneau's lead to two with an RBI ground out. Angela Ott followed with an RBI single and then came around to score on a pair of Juneau-Douglas errors to tie the score.
Lathorp's Michelle Stevenson followed with a double but was stranded at third after Doerflinger got Lauren Zenger to end the inning with a fly ball.
After Juneau's 10-run inning, Lathrop responded with five runs of their own but couldn't complete the comeback.
Juneau's Powers walked and scored to lead off the first. She and Roguska scored on wild pitches in the third.
Powers scored three runs. Roguska scored twice, and Fenumiai had two hits in the win.
Eagle River 5, Juneau-Douglas 2 6 innings
One bad inning consigned the two-time defending champs to the loser's bracket in Saturday's opening game.
Eagle River won in six innings as the 90-minute time limit expired with an inning left to play.
The Wolves, Cook Inlet Conference champions, scored four runs in the third inning to hand the Crimson Bears their first loss in nearly two years.
JDHS, playing as the visitors, struck first in the top of the third as Hannah Barril singled home Kayla Janelle and Annie Hegar.
Eagle River responded in the bottom half of the inning, however, with a one-out rally.
Jessica Ludvigsen blasted a three-run triple and later scored on Molly Metcalf's single to put Eagle River up 4-2.
The Wolves tacked on an insurance run in the fifth as Ludvigsen scored off Metcalf's triple.
Eagle River pitcher Andrea Waters allowed four hits and one earned run over six innings.
Barril led Juneau's bats with a 2-for-2 effort. Andrea Doerflinger went 1-for-3, and Janelle doubled and scored in defeat.
Doerflinger scattered eight hits and struck out six in six innings.
Juneau-Douglas 6, Bartlett 3
Juneau-Douglas opened the tournament a little slowly but finished strong in a tournament-opening win over Bartlett.
The Golden Bears filled in for South Anchorage after the Wolverines forfeited games due to use of an ineligible player.
Defensively, the Crimson Bears played a solid game to advance past Bartlett.
Sara Manning made two terrific plays to save runs for the Crimson Bears.
"Defensively, we're always there," Manning said. "We can always mix up our players because they can go anywhere. If anything happens, we always have someone who can step in."
JDHS went up 1-0 in the third as Torie Powers scored on an error. The Crimson Bears scored four more runs in the fifth as Hannah Barril hit an RBI single, Andrea Doerflinger crushed a two-run double and Katie Laliberte hit an RBI triple.
"They're hitting piranhas. There's no question about that," JDHS coach Dave Massey said. "Once one gets going, they'll jump on them."
Doerflinger added an RBI single in the seventh before Bartlett scored three times in the seventh inning to keep it close.
It took a few innings for Juneau's bats to get going, but they heated up at the most opportune times against the Golden Bears.
"I'm sure it's pre-tournament jitters and it's early," JDHS coach Dave Massey said. "It's a typical reaction for early in the tournament for most teams, I think. That's fairly normal."
Doerflinger went 3-for-4 with three RBIs to lead JDHS. Janelle singled and scored. Carrie Laliberte scored a run. Sammy Roguska went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, and Powers went 1-for-2 with a run in the win.
Doerflinger pitched five innings for the win, allowing just one hit. Katie Laliberte allowed three runs in two innings of relief.
Juneau-Douglas 12, Chugiak 0 5 innings
Sammy Roguska went 4-for-4 with two doubles and four RBIs as Juneau-Douglas routed Chugiak.
JDHS blasted 15 hits in the win.
"When one person on our team does something really good, then everyone else is like, 'Yeah,'" Roguska said. "We get really excited and everyone follows and that's how our inning goes."
The Crimson Bears scored seven runs in the fourth inning as they sent 11 batters to the plate.
Nine batters recorded hits for JDHS in the win.
"There's nobody on the 15-person roster that can't hit," JDHS coach Dave Massey said. "We put kids in and they step up and hit the ball too. It really makes a whole lot of difference."
JDHS scored one run in the third, seven in the fourth, four in the fourth and four more in the fifth in the win.
Andrea Doerflinger fired a complete-game one-hitter in the win.
Offensively for JDHS, Torie Powers singled and scored twice. Hannah Barril hit a two-run double. Doerflinger went 2-for-3. Carrie Laliberte scored, Alycia Cox singled and scored. Madison Massey went 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Cortney Wagner singled and scored, and Kayla Janelle drove in two runs.
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at email@example.com.