Alaska baseball and softball teams flourishing in Lower 48

Alaska Dispatch News
Bill Roth

Alaska baseball and softball teams, from Little League ages all the way up to college-age players, are flourishing in regional and national tournaments across the country this week.

The Knik Little League team of 11-12 year olds improved to 2-1 at the Northwest Regional in San Bernardino, California, on Tuesday with a 2-1 victory over Cody, Wyoming. The Alaskans are on the brink of making the semifinals in that six-team tournament.

Meanwhile, the combined team of players 12-14 years old from the Nunaka, City View and Polar Little Leagues is 2-0 after a pair of blowout victories at the Junior Softball Western Regionals in Tucson, Arizona, where it continues play Wednesday.

Also, the Alaska Baseball League champion Fairbanks Goldpanners are one of just eight teams left from a field of 30 at the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kansas, where the king of summer college-level baseball is crowned.

And South Post 4, the state American Legion baseball champion, opens play Thursday at the Northwest Regional in Eugene, Oregon, after winning four straight games to win the Alaska championship. American Legion is for players 19 and younger.

Knik Little League, which split its first two games in San Bernardino, prospered Tuesday behind strong relief pitching from Braden Shackelford. He went three-plus scoreless innings, allowed just two hits and struck out seven.

The Alaskans trailed 1-0 in the six-inning game before they plated two runs in the bottom of the third inning. Ian Frizzele rapped a run-scoring triple and scored on a wild pitch. Ryan Gray went 2 for 2 with a run scored.

The Goldpanners on Saturday lost their NBC World Series opener but rebounded for victories Sunday and Monday to remain alive in the double-elimination tournament.

Fairbanks has won a record six NBC titles, most recently in 2002.