It took Soldotna’s Lagi Wong six career games to get her ice cream.
Before the softball season, Wong made a bet with her cousin Lindsey Wong, an eighth-grader at Soldotna Middle School. If Lagi hit a home run this season, Lindsey had to buy Lagi ice cream. If Lagi failed to go yard, the ice cream was on Lagi.
Because Lagi, a senior who just moved back to the area from Utah, had never picked up a bat before this year, the odds were in favor of free ice cream for Lindsey.
One problem. Lagi is a natural.
Spurred by a two-run blast from Wong that screamed over the fence 200 feet away in left center and didn’t stop rolling after it landed for at least another 100 feet, the Stars notched a 13-5 Northern Lights Conference victory over Kodiak on Friday. The Stars then won 4-3 on Saturday.
Soldotna coach Dave Cleveland still remembers when Wong came up to him this winter during softball open gym and told him she wanted to join the team. He told the beginner to get in the batting cage.
“I’ve never seen a hitter hit the ball so hard off the machine,” Cleveland said after his team moved to 3-0 in the NLC and 5-2 overall. “I was behind the net cringing.”
Of course, soft toss and a machine is one thing. Facing live pitching is another. Cleveland said Wong has come a long way in a short period of time in the art of being a disciplined hitter.
In the first inning, SoHi already had a 2-0 lead when Kaycee Munn was on second base and Wong was at the plate.
Munn would not have bet against Wong homering this year. In fact, she said the team had been doing some hoc-chocolate wagering as to when Wong would leave the yard first, and the Kodiak game was drawing heavy action.
“We played volleyball together so I know how athletic she is,” Munn said. “She would always make good contact in volleyball, so I knew she would be good at softball.”
The only question when Wong’s fluid swing made contact with the ball was if the ball was hit high enough to clear the fence. Hard enough was not a question.
“I ran hard to first base,” Wong said. “I didn’t think I would actually hit a home run. I was so excited.”
Munn was also excited, running home from second yelling at the top of her lungs. With Wong batting cleanup, teams will have to give the dangerous Munn pitches to hit in the three hole.
Munn was 3 for 3 with three runs, three RBIs and two doubles, while Wong was 2 for 3 with two runs and three RBIs.
“He put us there for a reason,” Munn said of Cleveland’s lineup. “Three gets the first runner home, and four cleans up after that.”
The Stars had nine hits off of Kodiak starter Kaia Yatsik en route to ending the game after 4 1-2 innings due to the mercy rule. Also for the Stars, Maddie Wilcox had a hit, two runs and an RBI, while Nikki Hegge had a hit, two runs and an RBI, and Lauretta Price was 2 for 3 with three RBIs.
Yatsik walked six batters, but six of her runs were unearned. Kodiak coach Sam Catt, whose team is 1-2 overall and in the league, said his pitcher threw a good game, but that Soldotna played well.
“Soldotna looked sharp today,” Catt said. “Take your hat off to them.”
Cleveland said his squad’s defense is coming around. The Stars have committed double-digit errors in games this season, but Friday the team committed five errors that led to just one unearned run.
Hegge pitched five innings and yielded four hits while walking one and striking out two. She had extra incentive because she moved to Soldotna from Kodiak as a freshman.
“It makes me more competitive because I know all of their players,” she said. “I like to win so I can rub it in.”
SoHi took a 5-0 lead after the first inning and a 9-4 lead after the second and would cruise to the run rule from there.
For Kodiak, Kaitlyn Clark was 2 for 2 with a run and an RBI, while Celeste Chichenoff had a hit and a run, and Megen Jester had a triple, a run and two RBIs.
Saturday, the Stars scored two runs in the fifth and final inning against Kodiak.
Hegge pitched the entire game, throwing three strikeouts and hitting a game-winning single in the fifth inning.
Hegge was 1 of 3, and Munn went 2 for 2 and Wong had a hit and run in the third inning.
“These girls had what it took to win, and they’re a championship-caliber team,” Cleveland said.