The Juneau All-Stars earned a three-game sweep of Ketchikan in the Alaska Junior Softball District 2 Tournament on Wednesday night at Melvin Park.
After a walk-off 17-16 victory on Tuesday night, Juneau dominated for all but a few innings of a doubleheader on Wednesday, winning the opener 14-4 and the second game 11-0.
“Yesterday, we made silly errors, we were all not together,” Juneau first baseman Peyton Carson said in a post-game interview. “Today, we really came together.”
Juneau’s defense turns tide in Game 2
Juneau’s bats came to life in the third inning of the first game on Wednesday.
Zoey Billings’ two-RBI single put Juneau up 6-2, and the home team never looked back, tacking on eight more runs over the final three innings, including five in the fifth.
Riley Harp led Juneau with three RBIs, and was one of four Juneau players with multiple hits. Tristan Oliva had three hits and Harp, Carson and Saelyr Hunt each had two.
“Some of them are hitting shots out here towards the fence but certain times I asked them to bunt instead, and it was just about executing,” Juneau coach Nicole Adair said. “We planned a lot around having strategy and then executing whatever the job was I asked them to do.”
Carson, the starting pitcher, allowed just five hits, and made several key defensive plays to get out of a second-inning jam. With the bases loaded and the game tied at 2-2, Carson fielded two grounders for outs, stranding three baserunners.
“I think we were really sharp that inning,” Carson said. “We didn’t let anything get past us.”
Juneau’s offense kicked into gear during their very next at-bat. Anna Dale hit a one-hopper to the center field fence, and Harp, Carson, Hunt and Billings followed with singles to triple Juneau’s run output.
Ketchikan chipped away at their deficit in the fourth inning, scoring two runs before Billings came up big again. The right fielder made a tough catch for the second out and quickly threw the ball to the infield where Yadao caught a Ketchikan runner too far off first base for the double play.
Adair said the key to pulling away started with pitching.
“For us it was really about pitchers getting their balls to spin and hitting their spots,” Adair said. “It kind of seems once the pitchers sort of dialed that in, it really kind of fouled up their hitting strategy. So that was one key factor to me was really getting our pitchers to spin the ball, make it move.”
Yadao dominant in Game 3 victory
Six different Juneau players posted hits in the second win of Wednesday, which finished two innings early due to a 10-run mercy rule.
Carson doubled during the first inning and tripled in the fourth inning, and Yadao pitched five scoreless innings while giving up just six hits.
Juneau now heads off to the state tournament next week to face the winner of the District 1 Tournament, the only other district tournament to be played in Alaska. The District 1 Tournament begins Friday and will feature Dimond-West, Nunaka City and Abbott-O-Rabbit teams from Anchorage.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or email@example.com. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.