For the Thunder Mountain High School softball team, the Region V tournament ended the same way it began: with a loss to Ketchikan.
The Lady Kings defeated the Falcons in the first game of the tournament Thursday, sending TMHS to the losers’ bracket. The Falcons fought their way through that side of the bracket, including an 8-1 win over Sitka on Saturday morning, to advance all the way to the championship game.
In the title game — which took place at Moller Park in Sitka — Ketchikan scored first and didn’t let up, downing the Falcons 9-4 to earn a trip to the state tournament.
The top of Thunder Mountain’s lineup did what it could, as the top three batters each collected three hits. Nina Fenumiai, batting third, scored once and drove in a run along with her trio of hits (two of which were doubles).
Ketchikan starting pitcher Kayloni Bermudez went the distance, spreading out 12 hits over her seven innings of work and stranding six Falcon runners.
In the losers’ bracket, TMHS beat Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé and Sitka by a combined score of 17-2. In the Saturday morning victory against Sitka, Fenumiai threw a complete game, striking out two while allowing just the one run on nine hits. Leadoff hitter Mariah Tanuvasa Tuvaifale had two hits, including a two-run home run in the seventh against Sitka.
Fenumiai tossed 3 1/3 more innings in the championship game, relieving starter Kyra Jenkins Hayes, who lasted 2 2/3 innings against the Lady Kings.
Saturday’s loss puts an end to Thunder Mountain’s quest for a fourth straight state title. Just two teams in state history have won four state championships in a row since records began being kept in 1996: East Anchorage won four straight large schools crowns from 2012-2015, and Sitka won small schools crowns from 2010-2013.
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.