East High's dominant softball team ended the season in a familiar fashion -- invoking the mercy rule.
The T-birds cruised to a 10-1 win over Lathrop on Saturday at Cartee Fields to earn their third straight large-school state title.
Being competitive with East proved nearly impossible this season. The T-birds racked up 15 double-digit wins in 27 games. East's only close game came in the Cook Inlet Conference tournament, a 5-2 win over West. Every other margin of victory has been at least six runs.
East doesn't have a weak bat in its lineup, Lathrop coach Bill Duffield said.
"Their hitting is phenomenal," he said. "They're solid one through nine."
East also has a strong defense led by pitcher Sydney Smith, who carried a perfect game into the fifth and final inning before giving up four hits. Smith, an accurate right-hander, finished her high school career with 505 strikeouts over four seasons.
"She can hit her corners," said Lathrop senior Abbi Walker.
The T-birds' prolific offense and stingy defense has led to 60 straight wins, consecutive undefeated seasons and a staggering 79-1 record over the past three seasons.
The team isn't cocky despite its list of impressive stats, said senior Vaa Pedro, who now has four state titles, three with East and one with West four years ago.
"We try to stay humble," she said. "Any team can beat any other team on any given day."
Not on Saturday.
East jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning thanks to a two-run single by Smith, a sacrifice bunt by Gabby Meyerson and a sacrifice fly from Pedro. Smith retired her sixth straight batter and East added two more runs in second inning.
A third consecutive three-up, three-down inning for Lathrop was followed by Nicolette Dabbs' two-run single to increase East's lead to 7-0 after three innings.
Meyerson and Pedro added their second RBIs of the game and Taria Page stole home to put the T-birds up 10-0 in the fourth.
Jess Hall broke up Smith's perfect game with a leadoff single in the fifth inning. Two more Lathrop singles loaded the bases, but Smith got Walker to pop out, struck out Tana Bartels and got Salena Maxwell to fly out to end the game, having surrendered one run.
Smith said she wasn't nervous with the bases loaded at the end the game. It was the beginning of her final high school contest that brought out her emotions.
"I was tearing up when I was warming up," she said.
Juneau rules among small schools
Juneau's path to its first small-schools championship included a grueling four games on Saturday, including two wins over Ketchikan. Juneau won the first game 10-4 to force an if-necessary championship, which it won 9-4.
Juneau erupted in an emotional celebration after the second win over Ketchikan to claim the small-schools title. It was the Crimson Bears' third game of the day against Ketchikan, which edged Juneau 4-3 in a morning game.
That dropped the Crimson Bears into the losers bracket semifinals against Homer. Juneau won 13-5 to earn another shot at Ketchikan and keep its state championship hopes alive.
Juneau's first win over Ketchikan fueled the team in the if-necessary game, senior Andrea Gordon said.
"We had a lot of good energy feeding off of the first game," she said.
Ketchikan started the title game with two runs in the first inning. Juneau scored a run in the third and two in the fourth to take a 3-2 lead into the fifth inning.
Juneau added four more runs in the fifth for a 7-4 lead and added two more in the sixth.
Reach Mike Nesper at email@example.com or 257-4335.
State softball all-tournament team
Sydney Smith, East; Gabby Meyerson, East; Taria Page, East; Morgan Hill, East; Selena Maxwell, Lathrop; Kacey Duffield, Lathrop; Alise Arnold, Chugiak; Elle Gray, Chugiak; Lauren Syrup, West.
Felicia Ruaro, Ketchikan; Sara Collins, Ketchikan; Martha Bullock, Ketchikan; Jazmyn Nedzwecky, Ketchikan; Andrea Gordon, Juneau; Rachelle Roldan, Juneau; Sophie Hultberg, Juneau; Celeste Chichenoff, Kodiak; Maggie LaRue, Homer.
2014 East Lathrop 10-1
2013 East Lathrop 10-2
2012 East West 8-0
2011 West Dimond 3-2
2010 Juneau East 11-0
2009East Chugiak 13-3
2008 Juneau Bartlett 10-0
2007 Juneau North Pole 11-8
2006 Eagle River Juneau 4-2
2005 Juneau Lathrop 10-0
2004 Juneau Chugiak 3-1
2003 Chugiak Juneau 7-1
2002 Juneau Service 6-4
2001 Service Chugiak 8-7 (8 inn.)
2000 Service Chugiak 11-0
1999 Juneau Service 8-4 (8 inn.)
1998 Chugiak Juneau 12-2
1997 Service Chugiak 3-1
1996 Service Juneau 3-2
2014 Juneau Ketchikan 9-4
2013 Sitka Ketchikan 7-6
2012 Sitka Homer 14-12
2011 Sitka Homer 8-0
2010 Sitka Ketchikan 6-3
2009 Ketchikan Sitka 5-4
2008 Kodiak Ketchikan 15-0
2007 Ketchikan Homer 16-10
2006 Homer Ketchikan 7-2
2005 Sitka Monroe 7-0
ASAA/First National Bank
Winners bracket semis
Ketchikan 4, Juneau 3
Homer 15, Kodiak 5
Losers bracket semis
Juneau 13, Homer 5
Juneau 10, Ketchikan 4
If necessary game
Juneau 9, Ketchikan 4
Winners bracket semis
East 11, Lathrop 1
West 5, Chugiak 2
Losers bracket semis
Lathrop 14, West 10, 8 inn.
East 10, Lathrop 1
By MIKE NESPER