Thunder Mountain senior softball player Leah Hetle, shown surrounded by family, was honored on Saturday at Dimond Park Field No. 4 before the Lady Falcons final home game against Ketchikan. (Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire)

Thunder Mountain senior softball player Leah Hetle, shown surrounded by family, was honored on Saturday at Dimond Park Field No. 4 before the Lady Falcons final home game against Ketchikan. (Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire)

Lady Falcons finish softball weekend with big bats

TMHS nips Sitka, falls to Ketchikan on senior night

The Thunder Mountain High School Lady Falcons finished their weekend series against Southeast Conference opponents Sitka and Ketchikan on Saturday with positive bats, putting big numbers on the scoreboard.

“It was a whirlwind as always but it was good,” said TMHS coach Barb Strong. “It was successful in that we came away with some wins and we learned some stuff.”

On Saturday the Lady Falcons defeated Sitka 18-17 and fell to Ketchikan 12-9.

“It is a ‘hittering’ year that’s for sure,” Strong said. “The Ketchikan coach said they refer to it as football scores. And that is kind of what it feels like. Today I was really impressed by our resiliency to fight back against Sitka.”

Sitka led 4-0 when TMHS scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning with sophomore Bryanna Eakes singling in freshman Alayna Echiverri and junior Jenna Dobson and junior Jack Lovejoy grounding out to score Eakes.

In the bottom of the second inning Eakes doubled in Dobson, junior Ashlyn Gates tripled in Eakes and junior Kara Strong reached on an error scoring Gates for a 6-4 lead.

After Sitka tied the score, TMHS’ Strong singled in Eakes and Lovejoy brought in Gates for an 8-6 lead.

Ketchikan would go up 14-8 in the top of the fifth inning. In the bottom half, Dobson singled in Echiverri, Eakes reached on an error scoring Dobson, Gates doubled in Eakes and scored on a passed ball and Lovejoy singled in freshman Braith Dihle to close to 14-13.

Sitka went up 17-13 in the top of the seventh inning. In the bottom half Strong singled and was replaced by courtesy runner Dihle who stole second, senior Leah Hetle walked, Dihle stole third and home to close to 17-14. Lovejoy walked, freshman Cambry Lockhart singled scoring Hetle for 17-15, Lovejoy stole home for 17-16, Echiverri reached on a fielder’s choice, Dobson singled in Lockhart to tie the game at 17-17 and Gates hit a hard ground ball and reached on an error scoring Echiverri for the win, 18-17.

“To end up winning a game 18-17, that sounds unfathomable to me in the softball world,” Strong said. “But we did it today. And we never gave up. We would get down a couple of runs but they never stopped playing. That is a pretty big mental growth for us this weekend.”

Dobson led TMHS with five hits, Eakes, Gates, Strong and Lovejoy had two each, and Echiverri, Hetle, Lockhart and junior Aliza Mesdag one each. Lovejoy led with three runs batted in. Eakes scored four runs, Echiverri, Gates and Dobson three each. Hetla and Mesdag earned two walks apiece.

Gates started in the circle and went four innings, allowing seven hits and six runs, walking two batters and striking out three. Lovejoy relived for three innings, allowing 11 hits and 11 runs.

In the 12-9 loss to Ketchikan the Lady Kings led 2-0 in the top of the first. Gates and K. Strong hit back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the inning to tie the score. Lockhart sacrificed in Hetle, and Lovejoy tagged up after an Echiverri fly ball out to score for a 4-2 TMHS lead and Dobson singled in Mesdag for 5-2.

Ketchikan scored singled runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings to tie the score at 5-5.

in the bottom of the fifth inning Gates hit a sacrifice fly ball to scored Dobson for a 6-5 lead.

Ketchikan went up 8-6 in the sixth inning. In the bottom of the sixth Echiverri singled to score Lovejoy, Dobson singled scoring Lockhart and Echiverri for a 9-8 TMHS lead.

In the seventh inning Ketchikan again regained the lead with four runs including a home run by Mackenzie Pahang, her second of the game.

Dobson led TMHS with three RBI, Echiverri and Gates two apiece, K. Strong and Lockhart one apiece. Dobson, Gates, K. Strong and Lovejoy had two hits each, Echiverri and Mesdag one apiece.

Gates and Lovejoy again shared the circle. Gates went four innings, allowed four hits and four runs, walked four and struck out three. Lovejoy allowed 10 hits and eight runs, and struck out one.

“Our pitchers are working well together,” coach Strong said. “We only have two pitchers and last year we had five, so they are working hard. And if I had to give a shout out it would go to Alayna (Echiverri) and Ashlyn (Gates).”

On Friday, in a 14-11 loss to Ketchikan, Echiverri went 3-5, including a grand slam home run, with five RBI and scored two runs, Gates went 2-3, with two home runs two RBI and two runs scored, and junior Kennedy Love 2-3 with 2 runs.

“They just hit great across the whole weekend,” coach Strong said. “They are a pivotal part of our lineup for sure.”

TMHS will play Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé at Melvin Park, Friday, at 7:30 p.m. (JV 5:30 p.m.) and Saturday, at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. (JV 11 a.m.)

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