ANCHORAGE - Smiling and laughing all the way, the Juneau-Douglas High School softball team punctuated one of its greatest seasons with a big, fat exclamation mark Saturday.
The Crimson Bears defeated Bartlett 10-0 in six innings to repeat as Alaska School Activities Association large school state champions at Cartee Fields in Anchorage. Juneau-Douglas (22-2) has won four of the last five championships and an unprecedented six titles since 1999.
"Everybody has good attitudes this year and nobody really gets bummed," JDHS senior Nicole Fenumiai said. "Everyone motivates and pumps each other up. It's a good team and I'm really glad I played with them."
After winning the tournament's first three games by a combined score of 15-6, the Bears received a dominating pitching performance by Brittany Fenumiai to seal the title.
Combining a blazing fastball with tricky off-speed pitches, the sophomore baffled the Golden Bears' batters. Fenumiai allowed just a fourth-inning single in seven innings and struck out five batters in the win.
Fenumiai also benefited from terrific defense as right fielder Krista Barril made a twisting catch to end the first inning. Barril then charged hard to snag a fly ball near her shoestrings to close out the fifth.
"I felt good, and I wasn't nervous," Brittany Fenumiai said. "We have a great infield and great defense. Krista had two amazing catches, and it made me love her even more."
Juneau-Douglas came out swinging hard with a five-run first inning. Catcher Darby Brown, an all-tournament selection, kick-started the inning with a two-run double, scoring Nethia Lavering and Brittany Fenumiai. Freshman Taylor Larson hit a two-run double and senior Cortney Wagner added an RBI single.
"It got a lot of us more relaxed," Wagner said of the five-run first. "There's kind of a high-tense thing because it's the state championship, but getting five runs right off the bat kind of cooled things down. I mean, you can never have enough runs."
Brown, a junior, emerged as Juneau's best hitter during the tournament. She added a solo home run in the fifth to go 2-for-4 with three RBIs in the final. Overall, she went 7-for-13 with seven RBIs.
"I just have confidence in my team that they can come behind me and do the same thing," Brown said. "Basically, my goal is to get on base and let my team do the rest."
JDHS closed out the title with a four-run sixth inning, forcing the umpire to invoke the 10-run mercy rule.
Nicole Fenumiai finished the game and her high school career with flair as she hit a bases-clearing double to win the championship.
"That was actually my goal -- I wanted to end my high school career on a good hit," the senior all-tournament selection said while laughing. "I actually did it. It might even be a better feeling than winning state."
All-tournament selection Wagner went 3-for-3 with two doubles, senior Carrie Laliberte went 1-for-4, Nethia Lavering went 1-for-2 with a run scored, freshmen Megan Hart and Kalea Chapman each scored twice and Hannah Massey scored once in the win.
The game ended one of the most dominant seasons in Alaska softball history.
JDHS outscored its opponents 191-41 with six shutouts.
More than the games, though, this team will be remembered by fans and coaches alike for its attitude. Smiles and jokes permeated nearly every practice and game.
As well as the Crimson Bears played softball this season, they may have enjoyed each other's company even more.
"I'm really happy with how we played as a team up here," Laliberte said. "I'm really proud."
Juneau-Douglas 6, Bartlett 3
The Crimson Bears scored three runs in the first and fourth innings and received terrific defensive support to advance to the championship round.
Carrie Laliberte scattered 11 hits in seven innings, striking out two batters with one walk and one hit batter.
JDHS scored three runs in the top of the third as Taylor Larson laced a two-run single and Cortney Wagner drew a bases-loaded walk.
Bartlett struck back with two runs in the bottom half of the inning. An error by centerfielder Hannah Massey caused Samantha Davis and McKenzie Moss to score.
Massey more than made up for the error with her bat and glove, though.
She alertly gunned down a runner at third base to prevent an extra run from scoring in the first inning.
She also ignited Juneau's fourth-inning rally with a triple. She later scored on Laliberte's single. Brittany Fenumiai and catcher Darby Brown added RBIs in the inning.
Massey went 2-for-3 with a run scored en route to earning player of the game honors.
Laliberte went 1-for-3 with two runs scored, Brown went 2-for-3 with a double, Nethia Lavering and Megan Hart scored and Nicole Fenumiai went 1-for-4 in the win.
In addition to her two hits, Brown threw out two Bartlett players trying to steal second base.
Juneau-Douglas 2, East Anchorage 1
Juneau-Douglas scored twice in the fourth inning to slip past East Anchorage.
Darby Brown, player of the game, went 2-for-3 and singled home Brittany Fenumiai for the game's first run. Cortney Wagner followed with an RBI single to put JDHS up 2-0.
East scored in the bottom of the six, but Fenumiai shut the door to seal the win.
Fenumiai struck out nine batters and allowed four hits in seven innings for the win. At the plate, she went 2-for-3 with a double. Carrie Laliberte and Nicole Fenumiai added singles in the win.
Friday's first-round game
Juneau-Douglas 7, Service 2
Brittany Fenumiai went 2-for-4 with a double, triple and RBI and two runs scored to lift JDHS past Service.
Fenumiai earned player of the game honors in the win.
Darby Brown went 1-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored, Cortney Wagner hit an RBI triple, Nethia Lavering went 2-for-2 with a run scored, and Carrie Laliberte scored in the win.
Laliberte allowed two runs on three hits with five strikeouts in five innings for the win. Jennifer Nelson struck out four batters in two innings of relief.
JDHS scored two in the first inning and five more in the fifth.
Contact sports editor Tim Nichols at 523-2228 or email@example.com.
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