After reaching championship-round play, Juneau's Seniors (age 15-16) softball and baseball teams both ended their seasons on Wednesday as runners-up in their respective Northwest Division tournaments.
The Gastineau Channel Little League All-Star Seniors softball team lost a close winner-take-all championship game to the Washington state champions, 2-1, in Oak Harbor, Wash. Juneau forced the deciding game by beating the South Everett, Wash., team, 6-3, earlier in the day.
The Seniors baseball team fell to a strong Hawaii state champion squad, 9-4, in Missoula, Mont.
Both Juneau teams entered the last round of play with one loss, meaning they had to win two consecutive games against undefeated teams to win the double-elimination tourneys.
In Oak Harbor, the Juneau Seniors softball team - which had lost to Washington 13-0 to open play in the tournament - found themselves down 2-0 in the fourth to the South Everett team in the opening game of the championship round. But Juneau came back with the help of power hitting.
Juneau's Stephanie Smathers hit a two-run home run to tie the game in the fourth. Then, in the top of the seventh with the score knotted at 3-3, Ashley Larson belted a three-run homer to put Juneau ahead for good, 6-3.
In the second match, which determined who would get to move on to the Western Regional tourney in Butte, Mont., Juneau and South Everett found themselves in a defensive duel.
Juneau went up 1-0 when Nicole Bavard laid down a sacrifice bunt to drive in a Juneau run. Then Washington scored two runs in the sixth and held on for the victory and the tourney title.
Juneau had several great defensive plays in the game, according to manager Steve Bavard. Jordan Johnston caught a line drive and threw out a runner at first for a double play, and Ashley Larson fielded a bases-loaded hit and successfully threw out a Washington runner at home to keep Juneau in the game.
Bavard said he was pleased to see the team give Washington all it could handle, especially after the 13-0 loss earlier in the tourney.
"The girls pulled it together, and nearly pulled it off," he said.
In Missoula, Juneau's Seniors baseball team was played six great innings against the Hawaii state champs - but that came after giving up seven runs to the Maui team in the first.
Hawaii had five hits - including two home runs - in the bottom of the first, as Juneau manager Bill McCauley said the team got sidetracked from their game plan.
After getting out of the inning, Juneau held Hawaii to just three hits and two runs over the next five innings.
"Once we got back on our game plan, we were right there with them," McCauley said.
Juneau managed to add one run in the fourth, one in the fifth and two in the sixth, but strong Hawaii pitching prevented a comeback.
Sam Muse started the game on the mound for Juneau and was relieved by Sergio Magallanes in the second.
C.J. Keys led Juneau on offense, finishing 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored. Magallanes went 1-for-2 with a run, and Mark Harmon finished 1-for-3 with a run for the GCLL All-Stars.
"It's been a fantastic run," McCauley said. "It's an emotional strain (to spend three weeks on the road), and the kids held up well."
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