With flourishing summer casting off sluggish winter, Saturday’s softball game between Kenai Central and Homer was very much about the future.
The future of Kenai’s two graduating seniors, the future of both softball programs, and Homer’s near-future prospects at next weekend’s state tournament.
The visiting Mariners topped the Kardinals 12-0 to win the Northern Lights Conference with a 9-1 record and earn a 12th berth in 13 years to the state softball tournament.
The Kardinals finished 2-8 on a day that honored seniors and four-year varsity starters Hope Steffensen and Carly Norvelle.
Steffensen finished this season with a .519 batting average, .576 on-base percentage and nine RBIs.
She will put her talents as a runner, wrestler and softball player on the back burner for now, enrolling at the University of Texas at Dallas.
She recently graduated as the valedictorian of the Connections program, and earned a National Merit Scholarship, which will cover her college tuition and give her an additional stipend.
She will major in political science in college, with the ultimate goal of becoming a lawyer.
“Her defensive skills are phenomenal,” Kenai coach Mark King said of the shortstop. “She has great instincts and a great will to get to the ball.”
Norvelle finished the season hitting .541 with an on-base percentage of .538 and 12 RBIs. She will play softball at Porterville College in Porterville, Calif., next season.
“She just has an incredible awareness behind the plate,” King said. “It’s almost supernatural.”
Despite losing the two players, King said the future is bright with the Kardinals.
“This was a rebuilding year,” he said. “We had a very young team, with just two seniors. I have high hopes for next year.”
Havan Shaginoff pitched through some tough circumstances all year. Saturday was typical, as eight of the 12 runs could have been avoided with solid defense.
“We’ll have spurts of brilliance, and then just meltdowns,” King said.
Shaginoff, Shannon Evans and Erin Cox had the hits for the Kards.
For Homer, the game served as a tuneup for the state tournament and for seasons to come.
Top pitcher Hannah LaRue got the start and retired all six batters she faced, including two on strikeouts. Then No. 2 pitcher Mcki Needham came in and put up goose eggs for two frames.
Homer coach Bill Bell said he gave Needham and No. 3 pitcher Pam Jantzi some work late in the season to be ready for state.
“If we get into the losers bracket and have to climb out, I don’t think we’ll just be able to ride the arm of Hannah,” Bell said.
In addition to not missing a beat when changing pitchers, the Mariners did not miss a beat when sliding a bunch of JV players into the lineup, especially on defense, where Homer was flawless all day.
“They are a real cohesive team,” Bell said. “They pick each other up when someone makes a mistake. They haven’t made a lot of errors this season.”
The Mariners also started driving the ball once they got their timing down against Shaginoff.
Miranda Beech continued her recent tear, finishing 3 for 4 with two runs and four RBIs.
For the week of May 6 to 12, Beech was named a MaxPreps/NFCA National High School Player of the Week for the West Region. Bell enters all of the players stats on the computer, and MaxPreps compiles those and hands out the award.
Also for Homer on Saturday, Katie Kirsis had two runs, Kyla Pitzman had a double and a run, LaRue had a double and a run, Needham had two runs, Kayla Hutt had a double, run and an RBI, and Brenna Evarts had a hit, run and RBI.
Skyview softball pulls off Friday sweep of Houston
The host Skyview softball team won its second and third games in a row Friday, notching Northern Lights Conference victories against the Hawks.
Skyview improved to 5-7 overall and 4-4 in the league with the victories. Not bad for a program that won for the first time in program history in the last game of last season.
“The practices have been good,” said Skyview shortstop Victoria Oberts. “The coaches have really been working us hard.
“Everyone has come together as a team. We’ve bonded really well this year.”
Skyview won the first game 12-1 in five innings. Sam Reynolds pitched all five innings to pick up the win, notching five strikeouts.
On offense, Reynolds was 2 for 3 with two runs, Kayla Scroggins had two runs, Cat Schoessler was 2 for 3, Oberts had a triple, Molly Hughes was 3 for 4, Megan Ussing was 2 for 3 with two runs, and Jessica Lester was 2 for 3 with a run.
“Our girls played really well defensively all day,” Skyview coach Steve Schoessler said. “We were a little slow getting the bats going in the first game.”
That was not the case in the second game, as the Panthers pushed across 14 runs in the first inning on the way to a 22-6 victory. Due to some scheduling confusion, Houston had its junior varsity team on the field for the game.
Even with the big lead, Skyview turned in some defensive gems.
In the first inning, catcher Cat Schoessler cut down Angelique Malidore when she tried to steal third. Schoessler also caught Paige Duckworth in the act of theft in the second inning. The Panthers ended the second inning by turning a nifty double play.
“We were just having fun with the game,” Oberts said, in response to a question about how Skyview stayed in the game mentally despite the big lead. “We’re not thinking about the final score until the game is over.”
Reynolds pitched the first inning, while Hughes pitched the last two innings.
A bunch of Panthers had solid games on offense, with 11 different players crossing the plate to score runs.
The highlights on offense: Reynolds went 2 for 2 with three runs, Scroggins had a home run and two runs, Joanne Glaves was 2 for 2 with two runs, Schoessler had three runs, Demery Garrant was 2 for 2 with three runs and four RBIs, Oberts was 2 for 2 with three runs, Hughes was 2 for 3 with four RBIs, and Mykaela Rybak was 2 for 2 with a run and an RBI.
In addition to the practices, Oberts said the Panthers scheduled some extra games this year, and those helped the team improve.
“We’re twice the team we were at the beginning of the season,” coach Schoessler said.
Kodiak notches Saturday sweep of Skyview
The host Skyview and Kodiak squads wrapped up their season Saturday with the Bears taking two NLC contests.
The Panthers finish 7-7 overall and 4-6 in the NLC.
Kodiak won the first game 9-2 in six innings, and the second 15-7 in six innings.
Reynolds pitched the entire first game for Skyview.
“Kodiak was hitting pretty well, and we had a couple errors,” Schoessler said.
On offense, Oberts was 2 for 3 with an RBI, while Cat Schoessler had a run and was 1 for 3.
The Panthers got off to a strong start in the second game, scoring seven runs in the bottom of the first inning.
However, Kodiak pulled off the big comeback for the win.
Reynolds again pitched the whole game. Schoessler said Kodiak was hitting well, but added his team was giving them too many outs.
“After the first inning, we weren’t hitting the ball quite as hard,” Schoessler said. “They also made some fantastic catches in the outfield.”
For the Panthers, Reynolds was 3 for 3 with a run, Garrant was 2 for 3 with a double, Hughes was 2 for 3 with a double and two RBIs, Scroggins had a two-RBI triple, Schoessler had a triple, and Rybak had a two-RBI triple.
Schoessler said the future is bright, as the Panthers get everybody back except for Scroggins.
“I’m really proud of the girls,” he said. “They’ve come such a long way. They came close to putting it together against Homer and Kodiak, and those are two tough teams.”
Kodiak sweeps Kenai
The Kodiak softball team swept Kenai on Friday in Kenai as the Kards fell to 2-7 in the Northern Lights Conference.
Kodiak won the first game 8-1 in five innings before taking the second 14-3 in six innings.
In the first game, Shannon Evans led the Kards by going 2 for 3 with a run.
King said his team hit the ball better in the second game, but left a lot of runners stranded.
Evans was 2 for 3 with an RBI. Carly Norvelle and Hope Steffensen also were 2 for 3.
Homer, Kodiak softball splits
The Homer and Kodiak softball teams split a pair of Northern Lights Conference games Thursday. Homer took the first 7-5, while Kodiak notched a 10-3 victory in the second game.
Stars see final two games canceled
The Soldotna softball team had its final two games of the season canceled. The Stars were supposed to play Palmer on Thursday and Wasilla on Friday.
SoHi finished 7-3 in the NLC, so it does not qualify for the state tournament. Kodiak earned the second state berth by finishing with an 8-2 record.