Raquel Ranger has had Juneau's number over the years. She continued her domination in another venue Monday night at Melvin Park.
Ranger took a shutout into the sixth inning as she led Anchorage's Dimond-West Little League All-Stars to a 3-1 victory over Juneau's Gastineau Channel Little League All-Stars in the first game of the Alaska State Senior Division (age 15-16) Little League Softball Tournament.
"I just moved my pitches around and located it pretty well," Ranger said after her complete-game effort.
Pitching for Dimond High in the last two high school state tournaments, Ranger blanked the Juneau-Douglas High School Crimson Bears 1-0 at this year's tourney and 7-0 two years ago.
Ranger said her effort Monday was different than her two state tourney games against the Crimson Bears. In the high school games she said Juneau had trouble hitting her drop ball and never adjusted. On Monday she said she only threw a couple of drop balls, but Ranger was still effective.
Ranger nicked all four corners and kept the GCLL All-Stars off-balance the entire game, while Dimond-West took a 3-0 lead in the sixth. Juneau finally got on the scoreboard in the seventh and final inning when Stephanie Heard doubled, took third on a passed ball and eventually scored on Tally Israelson's grounder. But Juneau's rally fell short.
"She's not an overpowering pitcher, but she (Ranger) had really good control today," said Rachel Barril, who went 2-for-3 and was one of the few bright spots in Juneau's line-up.
Ranger only had to work out of one jam in the first six innings. Lindsey Forrest led off the third inning with a double in the right-centerfield gap, but was stranded at second as Ranger got the next three Juneau batters out.
Heard, Juneau's starting pitcher, matched Ranger's shut out for 3 2/3 innings. However, in the fourth inning Heard gave up an infield single to Gladys Robards and two outs later Lorena Blair hit an RBI double for Dimond-West's first run.
Israelson relieved Heard in the fifth inning, and Dimond-West then added two more runs in the bottom of the sixth on three straight singles by Whitney Strid, Robards and Ranger.
"We've actually played them (Dimond-West) two years ago and were swept by them," said Juneau's manager Jana Heard. "Today I thought we played real well, good defense. We just didn't string any hits together. But tomorrow, hopefully, we will."
The best-of-three-game series continues with a rematch at 6 p.m. tonight at Melvin Park. If Dimond-West wins, it advances to the West Divisional Playoffs in Great Falls, Mont. However the Juneau-GCLL All Stars are hoping for a victory tonight to force an if-necessary game at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.
Wayne Xia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DIMOND-WEST 3, JUNEAU-GCLL 1
JUNEAU-GCLL 000 000 1 -- 1 6 1
DIMOND-WEST 000 102 x -- 3 6 0
Heard, Israelson (5) and Barril; Ranger and Smith. WP -- Ranger. LP -- Heard. Sv -- None. 2B -- Juneau: Forrest, Heard; Dimond-West: Blair. 3B -- None. HR -- None.
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