Homer softball squad still alive at state

Homer escaped the first day of the ASAA state softball tournament on Friday with a 3-2 win over Kodiak at Cartee Fields in Anchorage.

The Mariners had lost their first game on Friday, against Ketchikan, 6-4, which put them in the do-or-die matchup with Kodiak, but their chances at a state title aren't over yet.

If they can win every game here on out, they have a shot to make it back into the state championship game on Saturday, but it's a tall order.

Homer coach Bill Bell said it was a big relief to beat the Bears after losing to the Kings, but mentioned his team will have to pick up the pace if they wish to continue playing.

"We were getting a little nervous, and I think the kids were getting beat," Bell said. "They were dragging a bit (against Ketchikan)."

Homer will face the top seed from the Mid-Alaska Conference, Eielson, at 9 a.m. Saturday. Eielson lost to Sitka 16-1 on Friday to find itself in the losers bracket.

In Friday's first game, against Ketchikan, the Kings struck first with a run in the first inning, but Homer came on strong in the fourth and fifth innings with two home runs from both Kayla Hutt and Miranda Beach. That left the Mariners with a 4-1 lead.

However, Ketchikan fired up their bats for a late-game charge, as they took advantage from a few rare mistakes from Homer to score two runs in the sixth inning and three in the seventh.

"They had a couple runners on base, and we overthrew on third," Bell said. "It was a couple of mental lapses that got us."

Hannah LaRue pitched seven strikeouts for Homer, and McKi Needham led the team in hitting, connecting on all three of her at-bats.

In the second game, Homer scored early, getting two runs in the first inning and one in the second.

Maggie LaRue put Homer on the board first with a run batted in on a single from her sister, Hannah.

Maggie Graham knocked out her first home run of the season in the second inning to add another run, and the Mariners also got hits from Katie Kirsis, Beach and Needham.

Homer led 3-0 for much of the game, but two runs in the sixth inning put Kodiak within a single point of Homer, creating some tense situations.

"We were nervous, but it was a big relief afterwards," coach Bell said. "We would've liked to have more runs on base, but I guess we took the harder route."

Hannah LaRue pitched 10 strikeouts against Kodiak, and Bell said he will probably put Needham on the mound on Saturday against Eielson, a team he believes they should beat.

"If we can win that game against Eielson, I'll be pretty happy with whatever we end up doing after that," Bell said. "It'll probably be us against Sitka and Ketchikan again, so we have to go through one of them to get to the other."

Sitka defeated Kodiak 13-5 earlier in the day to advance to their matchup with Eielson, where they dominated the Ravens 16-1, putting them in the semifinals with Ketchikan.

The Kings overwhelmed Hutchison 24-0 on Friday to put them in the quarterfinal matchup with Homer.


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