Juneau's Gastineau Channel Little League Major (age 11-12) All-Stars advanced in Northwest Division softball tournament play on Tuesday with a heartstopping 4-3 victory over the Washington state champions in Eagle Point-White City, Ore., near Medford.
Also on Tuesday, the GCLL All-Stars Senior Division (age 15-16) softball team won a state title with a 7-5 win over Abbott-O-Rabbit in Anchorage in the deciding game of a best-of-three series. The Seniors will move on to the Northwest Division tournament starting Saturday in Oak Harbor, Wash.
The Seniors' victory gave Juneau a sweep of all three state Little League softball titles it entered this year.
In Tuesday's Majors tourney game, pitching ace Sasha Frye threw a complete game for Juneau, striking out 15. But the game against the Washington state champs went down to the wire.
Down 2-1 with two outs in the bottom of the fifth, Juneau rallied to score three runs. Carrie Laliberte and Hannah Massey drew successive walks, and then each stole a base to move to second and third. Washington's wild throw to second base allowed Laliberte to score and Massey to move to third.
Frye singled to score Massey, and then Darby Brown hit a triple over the left fielder's head to score Frye.
In the top of the sixth, Washington scored once to draw within one run, and loaded the bases with one out. Then Frye took over, striking out the next two batters to end the game.
"I had my eyes closed on the last couple of pitches," Juneau manager Tom Rutecki said.
Also noted from Tuesday's game was a great catch by Hannah Massey in right field. Massey threw to Nicole Fenumiai at third base, who beat out a Washington runner trying to advance from second.
Juneau will face Oregon in a semifinal game on Thursday.
Rutecki said the heat has been stifling - the official high temperature in Medford on Tuesday was 98 degrees and Rutecki said it reached 105 at the field - and it's been difficult to practice. The coaches had to pass around ice packs to get the players through Tuesday's game.
"It cools off really nice around 7:30 p.m., but they won't let us play later," he said, but noted the team has been resilient under the tough conditions.
In Tuesday's Senior softball game from rainy Anchorage, Juneau jumped out to a 6-0 lead with two runs in the fourth inning and four runs in the fifth, and starting pitcher Ashley Larson held down Abbott-O-Rabbit's batters through five innings.
Then the pouring rain got to Juneau, and A-O-R scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth. After Juneau added a run in the top of the sixth, A-O-R loaded the bases in the bottom half of the inning.
Erika Lindsey came on to pitch for Juneau in relief. A couple of runs scored, but Lindsey preserved Juneau's lead and got them out of the inning.
Juneau coach Steve Bavard reported that Larson had a couple of nice hits for Juneau, and Dana Flansaas hit a two-RBI single.
Bavard said the team was excited to get the win, and even more excited that they completed the Juneau girls' softball teams sweep of state titles this year.
The Majors beat Abbott-O-Rabbit on Saturday to win state, and the Juniors won their title on Monday against Knik. That put pressure on the Seniors to complete the trifecta, Bavard said.
"They were jumping for joy," he said. "It was a clean sweep for the girls, so that's a big event."