Juneau breaks out the bats to win state championship

GCLL Junior Softball All Stars advance to regional tourney

Posted: Sunday, July 29, 2007

After winning Thursday's opening game of the best-of-three Alaska State Little League Junior Softball Tournament, the Juneau All Stars had two shots to seal the title.

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The team of Gastineau Channel Little League players made sure a third game wouldn't be necessary by winning 14-6 over Knik Little League in Anchorage on Friday.

"Several of the girls played in past championship series and had been turned away," Juneau All Stars manager Dan Nelson said. "Knik had a good team, but our girls were determined that this was going to be their year. They were focused throughout the whole tournament."

With the win, Juneau will represent Alaska in the West Region Tournament in Tucson, Ariz., starting on Thursday. The winner of that tournament will move on to the Little League Junior Softball World Series.

"They wanted to close it out in two this time because we've won Game 1 at least two other years and ended up losing Games 2 and 3," Nelson said.

Despite the lopsided final score, the girls from Gastineau Channel Little League needed to fight back to win the state title Friday.

Juneau trailed 5-1 heading into the bottom of the third inning. Kyra Uddipa snagged a line drive and tossed to shortstop Jennifer Nelson to kill a Knik rally in the third.

Juneau cut Knik's lead to 5-3 with two runs in the third, but Knik got one run back in the top of the fourth.

Down 6-3, though, Juneau's bats woke up.

Juneau scored five runs in the fourth to take the lead. Jennifer Nelson knocked a three-run double in a six-run sixth as Juneau iced the state championship.

Megan Mauseth picked up the pitching win, striking out five batters and allowing one earned run in seven innings.

"When we got down she really turned it on and was popping that catcher's glove," the manager said. "She had a real good drop-ball going. Once Megan was able to shut them down, I think that helped our confidence to get back in the ball game."

Megan Hart led Juneau offensively with a single, double and four runs scored.

Taylor Larson went 3-for-4 with a double and two runs scored, Mauseth had two hits and scored twice, Uddipa singled and scored twice while Kaci Hansen and Haylee Hodgson had one single each in the win.

Also for Juneau, Kalea Chapman, Gabbie Saldivar and Megan Wright each singled and scored.

"What they learned was that you're never out of a ball game with this team because they can hit," Dan Nelson said. "We have a lot of really good hitters on this team. ... It's a testament to the batting practices we did all winter long."

Juneau will leave early Tuesday morning for Arizona and will play its first game at 6:30 p.m. ADT Thursday against the Southern California champs.

• Contact sports editor Tim Nichols at 523-2228 or sports@juneauempire.com.

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