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The age 17-18 team from Juneau's Midnight Suns Fastpitch Softball Association finished ninth out of 18 teams in the National Fastpitch Softball Association national championship tournament Saturday in Salem, Ore.
The Midnight Suns, who won their round-robin pool-play opener on Thursday, dropped a 3-0 decision to Northwest Thunder of Washington to complete pool play on Friday. In Saturday's double-elimination bracketed play, the Midnight Suns lost 6-1 to the Rogue Valley (Ore.) Rebels, beat the Oregon Royals 4-1, then were eliminated as Jessie White of the North Vancouver (British Columbia) Stars threw a no-hitter in a 6-0 decision.
"We finished ninth out of 18 teams. That's not too bad, it's respectable," Juneau coach Tim Adair said. "It's good to see these girls be able to compete at this level. When they're on their A games, they can compete with anybody."
In Friday's game, the NW Thunder's defensive play and pitching held Juneau to just three hits, all singles.
Against Rogue Valley, errors were a problem for Juneau as the Midnight Suns gave up four unearned runs. Juneau didn't mount an offense until two outs in the fifth inning, when the Rebels had a 6-0 lead. Krista Staveland singled, then Hilary Turner tripled her home for Juneau's only run. Kari Parr and Suzanne Parr both had two hits for Juneau. Nicole Adair hit a triple, but was picked off for the second out of the fourth inning, just before MaryAnn Moffet and Kynde Baun both singled.
In their victory over the Royals, Juneau's only error of the game led to an unearned run in the first inning. But Juneau scored three runs with two outs in the bottom of the fourth as Turner hit a two-run single to score Staveland and Suzanne Parr. The next batter, Baun, reached on a dropped third strike, only to have the catcher throw the ball into right field. Then, as Turner headed to third on the play, the relay throw was wide and Turner was able to score. Juneau added another run in the fifth as Moffet singled with two outs and Suzanne Parr tripled her home. Nicole Adair threw a complete-game three-hitter for Juneau.
In Juneau's final game, White overpowered Juneau's batters, who had problems getting around on her fastball. The Stars only allowed three baserunners, two on walks and Staveland on a hard shot to second that was ruled an error. Tim Adair said Juneau did better against White the second time through the order, since she had six strikeouts in the first three innings and only three K's in the next three.
The Midnight Suns now head to the Garden Island Classic in Kauai, Hawaii, which opens with two round-robin pool-play games on Thursday. The Hawaii tournament features 23 teams from around the country.