A Juneau softball team has a big chance of winning the small school state tournament this weekend, as both Juneau-Douglas High School and Thunder Mountain High School represent the Southeast Conference in the small school state championships Friday and Saturday in Fairbanks.
“Our team expects to win. We can’t look past any team, but I can see a clear path for both us and Thunder,” said JDHS coach Dave Massey.
TMHS and JDHS finished first and second in the Southeast conference, respectively. JDHS faces North Pole High School and TMHS will face Soldotna High School in the first round. Both games are at 12 p.m. Friday. North Pole finished second in the Mid Alaska Conference, while Soldotna finished second in the Northern Lights Conference.
The tournament is a true double-elimination contest, with all teams remaining in contention for the title until they’ve been beaten twice. The winner of the losers bracket will play in the championship game with the opportunity to take the title if they win both of their games in a doubleheader. The championship takes place Saturday at 2 p.m.
JDHS has seen North Pole in the state tournament before and Massey says they’ve been dangerous in the past.
“They have some kids we need to be careful with,” he said. “In the past they’ve been a well-coached team and I expect that this year.”
If the Crimson Bears can make it past North Pole they’ll face Homer, the No. 1 seed in the Northern Lights Conference. JDHS beat Homer 17-5 earlier this season, but Massey expects them to be a “different team” in the state tournament.
With the true double-elimination setup, the Crimson Bears could face the Falcons in the championship game.
“(TMHS coach Jorge Cordero) and I have talked about it. We’d like to see both our teams in the championship,” Massey said.
TMHS beat JDHS all four times they played them this year, the first wins for the Falcons over the Crimson Bears in their seven seasons as a program. Though the Falcons had the Crimson Bears number this year, the Southeast Conference came down to a three-way tie until the final weekend, when Ketchikan High School lost to Sitka to give TMHS and JDHS the clear first and second place.
A full tournament bracket can be found at asaa365.org.