Juneau coasts to softball title

Team advances to the Western Regional Major Softball tourney in Washington

Posted: Monday, July 24, 2006

Juneau dethroned three-time defending Alaska State Little League Major Softball champion Nunaka Valley in resounding fashion Sunday at Melvin Park.

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Juneau sent 16 batters to the plate in an 11-run first inning en route to an 18-0 win in four innings to capture the state title. With the win, Juneau will represent Alaska in the West Region Tournament starting Saturday in Vancouver, Wash. The winner of that tournament will represent the West Region in the Little League Softball World Series in Portland, Ore.

"They've all refused to become complacent," Juneau manager Tate Chapman said. "Once they reach a goal, they set a new one and they keep trying to strive forward to do that."

After topping Nunaka Valley, the District 1 champs, 12-2 in four innings Saturday, Juneau needed to win just one of its next two games to win the title. The team showed almost immediately that a third game wouldn't be necessary.

Jennifer Nelson doubled, singled, scored twice and drove in four runs in the first inning as Juneau exploded to take an 11-0 win.

Kyra Uddipa scored twice. Kalea Chapman hit an RBI triple. Marissa White connected on an RBI single, and Peyton Millay, Cassie Anderson, Chandler Christensen and Alea Uddipa all scored in the inning.

"We practice a lot," Anderson said. "We work on our hitting and just believe in ourselves."

Substitutes Danielle Graham and Kyelisa Graham scored in the second to put Juneau ahead 13-0. Malin Murray and Anderson scored in the third inning while Nelson and Chapman each singled and scored in the fourth to complete the game's scoring.

In all, Juneau connected on eight base hits.

"This group of girls in this age group, there's a good number of them that's always been competitive and real athletic," Tate Chapman said. "Not just in softball, but in a lot of other facets of sports. This is just a cross-cut of a lot of girls who aren't even here."

Despite falling behind early, Nunaka Valley played solid defense and refused to give up.

Nunaka Valley made a terrific defensive play to close out the fourth inning. Saldivar crushed a triple to the outfielder but was tagged out a home by catcher Erika Meyerson after center fielder Shaai Ferguson alertly relayed to shortstop Eve Manumaleuna, who fired home for the out.

Juneau pitcher White picked up the win, limiting Nunaka Valley to just two singles while striking out three batters.

Juneau's next opponent is the host Vancouver, Wash., team at the Western Regional Tournament. They play Sunday at 5 p.m. ADT.

• Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at sports@juneauempire.com.

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