The Thunder Mountain Falcons were eliminated from the Region V Softball Tournament in an 18-8 loss to the Sitka Lady Wolves, Saturday morning, on the hosts Moller Field, leaving the bases loaded, and the roster, for next season.
“The girls gave 100 % effort today,” TMHS coach Barb Strong said. “It just didn’t work out in our favor. They made the corrections we asked them to and they played their hearts out. We just didn’t get the runs in.”
With Sitka leading 18-6 Thunder Mountain would end their season as junior Ashlyn Gates hit a one-out double and scored on a two-out single by junior Kennedy Love to trail 18-7. Love would advance to second and third, capitalizing on wild pitches and TMHS’ lone senior Kate Hetle put a fly ball into play that scored Love to trail 18-8.
Falcons junior Aliza Mesdag kept hope alive with a single to left field and freshman Cambry Lockhart earned a walk to load the bases but a fielding gem by Sitka’s Adriana Denkiner in center field ended the game.
“With the youth we have it looks brighter for next season too,” said Strong. “The kids already started setting goals for next season. And I get everybody back that was on this trip.”
The Falcons first put a run across in the bottom of the first inning as junior Jenna Dobson earned a one out walk, advanced to second on a single by freshman Alayna Echiverri and scored on a fielder’s choice hit by Gates to right field which tied the game at 1-1.
Sitka had scored the first run of the game in the top of the first inning as Kalena Tucker doubled in Lei’a Daly.
The Wolves broke the game open in the top of the third inning with five runs. Tucker tripled in Macee Steinson and scored on a passed ball, Adriana Denkiner singled in Harlee Nelson, Naia Nelson tripled home Denkiner and N. Nelson scored on a sacrifice fly by Kaiya Balovich for 6-1. Tucker would score on a wild pitch in the fourth for a 7-1 lead.
The Falcons got two runs back in the bottom of the fourth inning as Gates hit a one out single, junior Kara Strong singled and junior Kennedy Love singled in Gates to trail 7-2. Sophomore Kate Hetle hit a fielder’s choice to score Strong to trail 7-3.
Sitka added a run in the top of the fifth inning as Kaiya Balovich walked and was replaced by courtesy runner Alina Lebahn, Allyson Mayville was hit by a pitch, Kaelynn Balovich reached on a bunt and was replaced by courtesy runner Daly, and Lebahn scored on a steal for 8-3.
The Falcons again got a run back in the bottom of the inning as Echiverri earned a one out walk, advanced on a walk to Dobson, stole third base and scored on a ground out hit by sophomore Bryanna Eakes for 8-4.
Sitka responded in the top of the sixth inning with four more runs, taking a 12-4 lead as Naia Nelson put a ball deep to right field and reached on an error scoring Harlee Nelson, Denkiner and herself and Mayville scored on a steal of home.
TMHS got two runs back in the bottom half with Strong hitting a lead off single, Love singling to center field and Hetle reaching on a ground ball error to load the bags. Junior Aliza Mesdag singled to score Strong to trail 12-5 and Echiverri earned a walk scoring Love to trail 12-6.
Sitka continued to push the action in the top of the seventh inning. Steinson led off with a triple, Tucker walked and the two advanced on a fielder’s choice hit by Dalila Callahan. Steinson capitalized on a wild pitch to score for 13-6. Tucker scored on a fielder’s choice by Harlee Nelson for 14-6, Naia Nelson singled to right field scoring Callahan and Harlee Nelson for 16-6, and Kaiya Balovich grounded out to score Denkiner for 17-6. Kaelynn Balovich doubled scoring Naia Nelson for 18-6 before the Falcons could get the third out.
Falcons coach Strong noted some work needed for next season.
“I think we need to work on our team energy throughout the game,” said Strong. “It is a long season and we get a little bit moody going through the highs and lows. I think if we can stabilize that we could make more things happen faster.”
For TMHS, Love had two RBI, Echiverri, Eakes, Gates, Hetle and Mesdag one each. Gates and Love had three hits apiece, Strong and Mesdag two apiece and Eakes one. Gates, Strong, and Love scored two runs each, Echiverri and Dobson one apiece. Echiverri and Dobson earned two walks apiece, Lockhart one.
Gates started in the circle and went five innings, allowed 11 hits and 16 runs, walked four batters and struck out five. Lockhart relieved for two innings, allowed no hits and two runs, walked four and struck out one.
Stika’s Kaiya Balovich pitched the full seven innings, allowed 11 hits and eight runs, walked five and struck out one.
For the Lady Wolves Naia Nelson had three RBI, Tucker, Denkiner, and Kaiya Balovich two each, and Kaelynn Balovich one. Steinson, Tucker, Naia Nelson and Mayville led with two hits each, Kai. Balovich, H. Nelson, Denkiner one each. Tucker, Denkiner and N. Nelson scored three runs each, Steinson, Harlee Nelson two apiece, Callahan and Mayville one apiece.
Sitka would advance to play Juneau-Douglas for the tournament championship.