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The Midnight Suns Fastpitch Softball Association 18-younger team won its division in the 80-Team Alaskan Midnight Suns Fourth of July Classic held in Salem, Ore., over the weekend, as the Juneau team came from behind to edge the Boise (Idaho) Diamond Dusters 3-2 in Sunday's championship game.
It was the second year in a row the Midnight Suns 18-younger team claimed the title in the tournament and it was the only title won by the four Midnight Suns teams at the tournament. The 14-younger team took third place out of 24 teams in its bracket, while the 12-younger team placed fifth out of 14 squads. The Midnight Suns 16-younger team didn't place.
Pitching was a key for the 18-younger team's run to the title, with Juneau using Rae Walker to start and Nicole Adair to finish each game, while some games featured Tara Potts of Ketchikan throwing the middle innings.
"I don't think we allowed an earned run for the tournament," said Tim Adair, who coached the 18-younger squad. "We played five games and won four of them by one run and in three games we came from behind. We qualified for nationals, which are July 26-29 back in Salem."
In Sunday's 18-younger championship game, the Midnight Suns took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Hilary Turner hit a two-out single, took second on a passed ball and scored on a single by Suzanne Parr. Juneau fell behind 2-1 in the third inning when the Diamond Dusters took advantage of two errors, a walk and two singles. But Juneau's pitching and defense held Boise to just one baserunner the rest of the game.
The Midnight Suns won the game when Jenny Ahlgren reached on an error, then took second on a single by Kari Parr. Nicole Adair advanced the runners to second and third with a grounder to second, and Turner drove in Ahlgren with another ground out to second. Kari Parr scored the winning run on a two-out double by Suzanne Parr, who went 3-for-3 with two RBIs in the game.
In Sunday's other 18-younger games, the Midnight Suns edged the Redmond (Wash.) Nemesis and the Canby (Ore.) Tornadoes 2-1. On Saturday, Juneau blanked the Canby Cobras 7-0 and beat the Gladstone (Ore.) Thunder 4-3.
In the 14-younger division, the Midnight Suns lost 7-0 to the eventual champion The Dalles (Ore.) Crush in one of Sunday's semifinals. Midnight Suns program director Dave Massey said the Midnight Suns took third place on tie-breakers because they seven-runned both opponents on Saturday.
Earlier on Sunday, the Midnight Suns 14-younger beat the Seattle Spice 12-7. Arika Lindsey was the winning pitcher, while Jordan Johnston went 3-for-3 with two RBIs. On Saturday, Juneau beat the Boise Firebirds 8-1 and the Junction City (Ore.) Tigers 11-4.
In the 12-younger division, the Midnight Suns won once and lost once on Sunday. On Saturday, Juneau beat the McMinnville (Ore.) Steel Thorns 11-2 and tied the eventual champion Bend (Ore.) Drillers 9-9. Madison Massey was the winning pitcher in the first game and batted 2-for-2 with three runs scored. Talisa Rhea also went 2-for-2 with three runs, while Sasha Frye had a triple and two RBIs. In the second game, Keri Williamson and Rachelle Miller both scored twice, while Tushyne Eyre went 2-for-2 with a run and Massey doubled and scored once.
In the 16-younger division, the Midnight Suns lost two close games on Saturday to the Lake Oswego (Ore.) Lakers and the Milwaukie (Ore.) Falcons as errors led to unearned runs. On Sunday, the Midnight Suns lost 8-1 to the Aloha (Ore.) Breeze and lost 7-5 to the Lebanon (Ore.) Fireballs.