Juneau girls earn state title with 11-1 win

Posted: Monday, July 28, 2008

"Tucson here we come," said Kalea Chapman's mother following an All-Star game on Sunday at Melvin Park.

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The Juneau All-Star girls repeated as the Junior Little League Softball state champs by cruising to an 11-1 victory over the Knik Little League All-Stars from Eagle River near Anchorage.

Juneau bested a Knik team that was 7-1 in the District 1 tournament in Anchorage last week.

Sunday's game at Melvin Park was stopped early by way of the 10-run mercy rule after Juneau had a monster fifth inning, scoring five runs.

Juneau made few mistakes in Sunday's game and was able retire three consecutive batters in the second, third and fourth innings with strong defensive play and solid out-fielding.

On the offensive side, Juneau's batters found the ball often.

Kalea Chapman and Jennifer Nelson each had two RBIs and batted two for three at the plate.

Knik had some pitching problems in the fifth inning, walking three batters.

Juneau's starting pitcher Jennifer Nelson dominated on the mound, allowing only one earned hit in five innings.

The only run Knik scored occurred because of a dropped throw at first base.

Nelson sounded like a karate master at times, yelling loudly as she delivered each fast pitch.

"At first my release point was really bad," Nelson said. "Then I got in it. My team brings me up ... my pitching got better." She added that the team will need to step its game up in Tucson, Ariz., next week.

Juneau went 2-2 at last year's western regional tournament and Coach Tate Chapman expects the competition to be good in Arizona.

"It's always tough," Chapman said. "The western region (has) a number of excellent teams that come there. You just (have) to stay alert and keep your head in the game, regardless of the outcome of the previous games."

Chapman and other coaches have worked with the team since the players were 8 and 9 years old.

"All these girls have been coached by at least four or five different people," he said. "Some of them had the luxury of spending time with David Massey this last winter."

Massey is the head coach for the Juneau-Douglas High School softball team, and Chapman called him the grandfather of softball in Juneau.

"He is the one that managed to put together a growing program that all these girls have been able to enjoy," Chapman said. The program also is supported by volunteer efforts from parents that do the fundraising for the teams.

Baseball and softball is a family tradition for some Juneau players.

Don Kubley said that his daughter Devyn, who plays third base, is a fourth-generation ball player in Alaska.

"Her brother was a great ball player, and I think that inspired her a lot," Kubley said. "Baseball (has) been in the family for four generations in Alaska. It's something we all really enjoy. Her mom played, her grandfather played ... her great-grandfather played on the beach in Ketchikan."

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