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East repeats as state softball champs

Jeremy Peters
The ball gets by Service catcher Ryan Bailey allowing South baserunner Max Karnos to score. South beat Service, 15-1, in the title game of the 2013 state championship baseball game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
Lathrop catcher Jess Hall, left, makes the out at the plate on East baserunner Hannah Peterson. East beat Lathrop, 10-2, in the large school state championship softball title game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
Sydney Smith and Taria Page celebrate a score near the end of the game. East beat Lathrop, 10-2, in the large school state championship softball title game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
Lathrop's Salena Maxwell gets some encouragement from a coach. East beat Lathrop, 10-2, in the large school state championship softball title game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
East catcher Gabby Meyerson defends the plate as Lathrop's Kacey Duffield slides. East beat Lathrop, 10-2, in the large school state championship softball title game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
East's Leilani Blair looks to throw toward first base. East beat Lathrop, 10-2, in the large school state championship softball title game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
The Thunderbirds of East High School pose for pictures after their championship win. East beat Lathrop, 10-2, in the large school state championship softball title game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
Lathrop's Tina Persinger can't make tag in time on East baserunner Morgan Hill. East beat Lathrop, 10-2, in the large school state championship softball title game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
Lathrop infielders Payge Scanlon-Boswood, left, and Salena Maxwell bump hips in as part of their handshake. East beat Lathrop, 10-2, in the large school state championship softball title game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
Sitka celebrates their state championship after defeating Ketchikan. This was the fourth straight year Sitka has won the small schools title. Sitka beat Ketchikan, 7-6, to win the small school state championship softball title game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
Ketchikan's Alyson Walker, right, dives to make the tag on Sitkat's Mihn Iwamoto as she retreats toward third base. Sitka beat Ketchikan, 7-6, to win the small school state championship softball title game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
Sitka's Kalene Koelling high-fives teammate Hannah McCarty. Sitka beat Ketchikan, 7-6, to win the small school state championship softball title game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
Ketchikan player greet home run hitter Abby Boegler at the plate. Sitka beat Ketchikan, 7-6, to win the small school state championship softball title game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
Sitka celebrates the winning run. Sitka beat Ketchikan, 7-6, to win the small school state championship softball title game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
Sitka celebrates their state championship after defeating Ketchikan. This was the fourth straight year Sitka has won the small schools title. Sitka beat Ketchikan, 7-6, to win the small school state championship softball title game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
The ball gets by Service catcher Ryan Bailey allowing South baserunner Max Karnos to score. South beat Service, 15-1, in the title game of the 2013 state championship baseball game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
Service baserunner Johnny Meszaros can't avoid the tag by South's Will Homza. South beat Service, 15-1, in the title game of the 2013 state championship baseball game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
Service first baseman Connor Duff makes the forced out at first base on South's Nick Jensen. South beat Service, 15-1, in the title game of the 2013 state championship baseball game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
South baserunner Will Homza is called safe at second base. South beat Service, 15-1, in the title game of the 2013 state championship baseball game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
South's Connor Farnsworth is tagged out at home place by Service catcher Ryan Bailey. South beat Service, 15-1, in the title game of the 2013 state championship baseball game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
Service infielder Joshua Fetka dives for the ball. South beat Service, 15-1, in the title game of the 2013 state championship baseball game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
South's Max Karnos smiles after a score. South beat Service, 15-1, in the title game of the 2013 state championship baseball game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
The ball gets by Service catcher Ryan Bailey allowing South baserunner Max Karnos to score. South beat Service, 15-1, in the title game of the 2013 state championship baseball game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
Lathrop catcher Jess Hall, left, makes the out at the plate on East baserunner Hannah Peterson. East beat Lathrop, 10-2, in the large school state championship softball title game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
Sydney Smith and Taria Page celebrate a score near the end of the game. East beat Lathrop, 10-2, in the large school state championship softball title game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
Lathrop's Salena Maxwell gets some encouragement from a coach. East beat Lathrop, 10-2, in the large school state championship softball title game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
East catcher Gabby Meyerson defends the plate as Lathrop's Kacey Duffield slides. East beat Lathrop, 10-2, in the large school state championship softball title game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
East's Leilani Blair looks to throw toward first base. East beat Lathrop, 10-2, in the large school state championship softball title game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
The Thunderbirds of East High School pose for pictures after their championship win. East beat Lathrop, 10-2, in the large school state championship softball title game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
Lathrop's Tina Persinger can't make tag in time on East baserunner Morgan Hill. East beat Lathrop, 10-2, in the large school state championship softball title game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
Lathrop infielders Payge Scanlon-Boswood, left, and Salena Maxwell bump hips in as part of their handshake. East beat Lathrop, 10-2, in the large school state championship softball title game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
Sitka celebrates their state championship after defeating Ketchikan. This was the fourth straight year Sitka has won the small schools title. Sitka beat Ketchikan, 7-6, to win the small school state championship softball title game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
Ketchikan's Alyson Walker, right, dives to make the tag on Sitkat's Mihn Iwamoto as she retreats toward third base. Sitka beat Ketchikan, 7-6, to win the small school state championship softball title game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
Sitka's Kalene Koelling high-fives teammate Hannah McCarty. Sitka beat Ketchikan, 7-6, to win the small school state championship softball title game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
Ketchikan player greet home run hitter Abby Boegler at the plate. Sitka beat Ketchikan, 7-6, to win the small school state championship softball title game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
Sitka celebrates the winning run. Sitka beat Ketchikan, 7-6, to win the small school state championship softball title game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
Sitka celebrates their state championship after defeating Ketchikan. This was the fourth straight year Sitka has won the small schools title. Sitka beat Ketchikan, 7-6, to win the small school state championship softball title game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
The ball gets by Service catcher Ryan Bailey allowing South baserunner Max Karnos to score. South beat Service, 15-1, in the title game of the 2013 state championship baseball game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
Service baserunner Johnny Meszaros can't avoid the tag by South's Will Homza. South beat Service, 15-1, in the title game of the 2013 state championship baseball game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
Service first baseman Connor Duff makes the forced out at first base on South's Nick Jensen. South beat Service, 15-1, in the title game of the 2013 state championship baseball game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
South baserunner Will Homza is called safe at second base. South beat Service, 15-1, in the title game of the 2013 state championship baseball game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
South's Connor Farnsworth is tagged out at home place by Service catcher Ryan Bailey. South beat Service, 15-1, in the title game of the 2013 state championship baseball game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
Service infielder Joshua Fetka dives for the ball. South beat Service, 15-1, in the title game of the 2013 state championship baseball game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester
South's Max Karnos smiles after a score. South beat Service, 15-1, in the title game of the 2013 state championship baseball game on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Marc Lester

For the East softball team, winning 26 straight games and capping an undefeated season with a second straight large-school state championship came with its share of emotions.

"I was breaking down in tears," said East pitcher Sydney Smith. "I love the game so much, I was crying."

Smith pitched a complete game in the championship, a 10-2 win over Lathrop at Cartee Fields, where East had to beat The Malemutes twice to claim the crown Saturday.

Both teams started the day undefeated, with the tournament's double-elimination format pitting them against each other in the morning. The Thunderbirds (26-0) prevailed 6-5 in the early game to advance to the championship. Lathrop (21-2) dropped into the losers bracket, where it beat Juneau 7-6 to earn another shot at East.

To win it all, Lathrop needed to beat East twice consecutively in the afternoon, but that scenario became all but moot in the bottom of the fourth inning, when East erupted for seven runs. The rally, highlighted by a three-run double from Taria Page, turned a 2-2 tie into a 9-2 East advantage.

East had already taken a 3-2 lead when the imposing Page stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. Page already had one hit to show for two scorching grounders in her previous two at-bats, and she gave East a 6-2 lead when she ripped another hard grounder up the middle that rolled all the way to the center-field fence before anyone from Lathrop could get a hand on it. Morgan Hill, Carrie Sauerbrey and Smith all drove in runs to complete the outburst.

Page drew a walk in her next at-bat and came around to score on a single from Hill in the bottom of the sixth, bringing a mercy rule into effect and ending the game.

"After the first game we played with them, it was really nerve-wracking," Sauerbrey said. "Everyone's emotions were just nervous and excited."

Sauerbrey and Marissa Davidson were the only seniors on a team with four freshmen, five sophomores and two juniors, so playing their last game with the Thunderbirds contributed to an emotional day.

"This is a young team and they are gonna go far in the next two or three years," Davidson said. "We just knew that we wanted to come undefeated and we have a lot of strong players. We have faith in our team, that's what it comes down to."

East coach Paul Schoenborn showed faith in his offense's ability to score when he told Smith to intentionally walk in a tying run in the third inning. East led 1-0 in the top of the third when Lathrop loaded the bases with no outs and Kacey Duffield coming to the plate. Duffield had already been intentionally walked in her first at-bat and East didn't hesitate to walk her again.

"Paul, he knows what he's talking about," Smith said. "Kacey is a big hitter, so I knew if we walked her, we'd be able to get the next couple outs. I wasn't really worried about it, 'cause I trust him."

Duffield's walk brought Yvonne Sam home to tie the score at 1-1, and a hit from Salena Maxwell brought in another run to give the Malemutes a 2-1 lead. The lead was short-lived. East bounced right back to tie it at 2-2 on an RBI-double from Hill in the bottom of the third.

"East Anchorage, they're not defending state champion for no reason, they're a classy, tough team," Lathrop coach Bill Duffield said.

East was the only team to notch wins against Lathrop, which came into the state tournament on a 20-game winning streak and had won the Railbelt Conference for the first time in school history.

"I just can't be more proud of a group of girls," Bill Duffield said. "We were thinking about a conference and a state championship and we got one out of the two. I can't complain about that."

 

Four-peat for Sitka

Sitka didn't run into many obstacles on its way to a fourth straight small-schools softball championship, at least not until Ketchikan made things tough on the Wolves in Saturday's championship game at Cartee Fields.

Sitka (20-4), which won by at least four runs in its three previous tournament games, escaped with a 7-6 win in the title game, breaking a 6-6 tie with a run in the seventh and final inning.

The win was Sitka's second over Ketchikan (16-7) on Saturday. The Wolves won a morning game 12-8 to send Ketchikan to the losers bracket, but the Kings stayed alive with a 9-0 thumping of Homer.

Had Ketchikan found a way to beat Sitka in the championship game, an if-necessary game would have ensued to determine a champion.

Sitka's championship run also included a 13-5 win over Kodiak in the first round, a 16-1 win over Eielson. The Wolves, who also won a state title in 2005, have reached the small-school state title game for five straight seasons.

 

Reach Jeremy Peters at jpeters@adn.com or 257-4335.


By JEREMY PETERS
jpeters@adn.com