Juneau Post 25 third baseman Donavin McCurley bats in the 2018 American Legion state championship game against Dimond Post 21 at Mulcahy Stadium in Anchorage. McCurley will be playing in his fourth season on the team this year. (Courtesy Photo | Jeremy Ludeman)

Juneau Post 25 third baseman Donavin McCurley bats in the 2018 American Legion state championship game against Dimond Post 21 at Mulcahy Stadium in Anchorage. McCurley will be playing in his fourth season on the team this year. (Courtesy Photo | Jeremy Ludeman)

Baseball preview: Juneau Post 25 strives for three-peat

They’re going for their third consecutive state championship this summer.

Juneau Post 25 — an amateur baseball team that plays in the American Legion Baseball League — is going for its third consecutive state championship this summer.

The season, which officially kicked off last weekend, is sure to bring tense moments. The last two seasons by the American Legion baseball team have followed a similar narrative: regular season dominance followed by postseason drama followed by a state title.

“I think that just comes from our mental stability,” Kasey Watts, playing on the team for his fifth and final year, said. “Regular season, the games don’t mean as much, we’re just playing our own ball, clear minded, and then when state comes around, there’s a little bit more pressure, especially as the one seed. I think we just need to focus on our mental stability this season and gear down when it comes to state.”

Juneau Post 25 hosts Bartlett Post 29 of Anchorage for a four-game home series this weekend at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park. The team hopes to remain undefeated on the season — they swept a four-game series against Service Post 28 last weekend in Juneau.

All-tournament talents Watts, Donavin McCurley, Bobby Cox are back, in addition to Riley Griffin, Olin Rawson and others. Newcomers Luke Mallinger, Kona Ogoy, Luis Mojica and Christian Ludeman bring championship pedigree, as members of the Juneau-Douglas squad that captured the 2018 state championship.

“We don’t have the age and experience that we used to but with us older guys, we’ll be able to help them out and get them on the same track,” McCurley said.

Juneau’s 2017 state championship ended a three-decade American Legion title drought for the capital city, and also began a new chapter of Juneau baseball. For the first time since the team was re-established in 2013, Juneau was king of the Alaska baseball world. Fast forward to this season and not much has changed. The Juneau boys went 28-2 in 2018, and won another state championship.

And yet, in each of the last two years, it all came dangerously close to crashing down. Juneau lost to Kodiak in the first-round of last year’s state tournament, and fell to Service in the quarterfinals the year before. Both times the team rebounded to take the state crown.

Juneau players have earned tournament MVP honors in each of the last two seasons: shortstop Zeb Storie posted 11 hits while batting almost .500 in the 2017 tournament, and pitcher Philip Wall recorded an impressive 0.58 ERA in last year’s tournament.

Both players are too old to play now, and Watts said losing them isn’t ideal.

“We lost Phil last year and he was our go-to guy,” Watts said. “When he was on the bump, it was kind of like, ‘Alright, they’re not scoring any runs.’ So we just need to find that person who’s going to dig down deep and be our ace for pitching this year. I think once we get that going we’ll be solid, because our defense is good, our bats are good, it’s just pitching we need to work on.”

Juneau Post 25 hosts Bartlett Post 29 at 6:30 p.m. Friday, noon and 3 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday.


• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or nainsworth@juneauempire.com. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.


More in Sports

teaser
Scores at a glance for the week of Jan.28

Quick recaps for local teams.

Maddie Phaneuf, a Team USA biathlete, coaches up Juneau Nordic Ski Team members during a recent stop in the capital city. Phaneuf said it was only her second time in Alaska. Despite heavy rain, local athletes were able to learn from the Olympic-caliber athlete. (Courtesy Photo / Mike Justa)
Hello, good biathlon: Olympian serves as guest coach for Juneau youths

‘If you live in Alaska, you should be skiing”

Sean Oliver, who led the Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé Crimson Bears in scoring at the Alaska Airlines Classic, prepares to shoot during practice on Dec. 15, 2021. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
JDHS basketball teams determined to soldier through rough patch

Both the boys and girls have a heavy week and weekend ahead.

The Thunder Mountain High School boys basketball team stand on the Arctic Ocean. (Courtesy Photo)
Falcons come up just shy of tournament win

Close game in the far north.

FILE - Alaska Nanooks forward Brady Risk plays during the third period of an NCAA hockey game against Cornell on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021 in Ithaca, N.Y. When the Alaska Nanooks ventured out from campus in Fairbanks for their second three-week road trip of the season, a simple stop in Seattle turned into a four-day stay as virus-related airline staff shortages and wintry weather in the region grounded flight after flight. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus, File)
Roaming charge: Alaska Nanooks making most of independence

Patience, positive attitudes — and efficient packing.

Alwen Carrillo, one of the Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé boy’s basketball team captains, dribbles during practice on Dec. 15, 2021. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Juneau boys basketball hitting the road

One team is bound for Anchorage, the other for Utqiagvik

A basketball sits ready for play at Thunder Mountain High School on Dec. 7, 2021. Starting this week, Juneau’s high school basketball and hockey players may participate in enhanced COVID-19 screenings rather than wear a mask while playing. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Prep sports teams breathe easier

New testing options let players drop masks.

Soldotna’s Gehret Medcoff prepares to enter the zone with teammate Daniel Heath against Juneau-Douglas on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
SoHi hockey tops Juneau

SOLDOTNA — The Soldotna hockey team defeated Juneau-Douglas 4-2 on Thursday in… Continue reading

The 1997-1998 Klawock boys basketball team. The author is in the back, the third player from the right. (Courtesy Photo)
I Went to the Woods: Region V memories

I Went to the Woods goes to the hardwood.

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé junior Kai Hargrave collects his plaque from softball coach Lexie Razor after being named the boy's free-throw champ at the Princess Tours Capital City Classic on Dec. 30. (Dana Zigmund/Juneau Empire)
Another ‘Classic’ is in the books

JDHS girls win, local players earn tournament honors

teaser
Scores at a glance for the week of Jan.21

Quick recaps for local teams.