The ASAA/First National Bank state baseball tournament kicks off Thursday at Mulcahy Stadium in Anchorage, and Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaat.at Kalé will look to continue Southeast’s reign at the state level.
Southeast schools have won 11 state titles — including the past two — over the past two decades. JDHS edged South Anchorage 3-2 in a riveting state title duel last year, and Sitka defeated South Anchorage 2-1 for the championship the year before that.
“We have everything to gain from this state tournament,” JDHS coach Luke Adams said. “We have a lot of younger players, that this experience is going to be eye-opening but also exciting and a great memory. But we’re here and we’re going to make the best of the opportunity.”
The Crimson Bears, the second seed from the Southeast Conference, will play Wasilla, the first seed from the Southcentral Conference, at 4 p.m. Thursday.
“We know they’re going to be a very strong team,” Adams said. “Quality pitching, a lot of power at the plate, but we’re more focused on what we’re going to do.”
The Southeast, Southcentral, Cook Inlet and Mid Alaska conferences held their respective conference tournaments last week.
Ketchikan defeated JDHS 15-2 in the SEC Championships, Chugiak downed West Anchorage 7-0 in the CIC championship, West Valley topped North Pole 2-1 in the MAC championship and Wasilla beat Colony 4-1 in the SCC Championship.
Adams said the team has refocused since the regional loss to the Kings, and the players are ready to put their best foot forward against the Warriors.
“We’re going to relish the moment,” Adams said. “We’re going to go full throttle at (Wasilla) and see what we can do. We’ve got to play fearless, that’s our goal.”
JDHS’ Riley Griffin and Kona Ogoy are the only two seniors on the varsity team. Griffin, a starting outfielder, said the team’s worked hard to get to this point.
“We’re a really young team, but I think that we can still pull it out,” he said.
Earlier Thursday, at 10 a.m., Ketchikan (No. 1 Southeast) squares off against Colony (No. 2 Southcentral) and at 1 p.m. West Valley (No. 1 Mid Alaska) takes on West Anchorage (No. 2 Cook Inlet).
Chugiak (No. 1 Cook Inlet) and North Pole (No. 2 Mid Alaska) play at 7 p.m.
Alaska Legion Baseball will be livestreaming all games of the state tournament at www.alaskalegion.com. The state championship game will be played at 3 p.m. on Saturday. For more information on the tournament, go to asaa.org/activities/baseball.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.