Homer's state softball small-schools championship hopes came to an end on Saturday at Cartee Fields in Anchorage with a 9-0 loss to Ketchikan, leaving the Mariners in third place.
Two hours before that, the Mariners beat Eielson 15-9 in their first game of the day, advancing them in the second-chance consolation bracket.
Homer had a big game against the Ravens in the first game, knocking out 10 runs in the second inning alone.
"We just kept going round and round," Homer coach Bill Bell said. "We knew that it was going to be a good game because those Mid-Alaska teams aren't particularly strong."
McKi Needham took the mound against Eielson, a decision that coach Bell made Friday. It was Needham that opened the scoring in the first inning with a two-run triple, and she pitched well, too, striking out five of Eielson's batters.
Katie Kirsis and Miranda Beach each had two hits, and Kirsis, Maggie and Hannah LaRue led the team with three RBIs. Kirsis, Beach, Needham and LaRue also each had a triple, and Kayla Hutt had a double.
Eielson began to pull back closer to Homer with three runs in the third inning and six in the fourth, but Needham was able to close it out.
"We were able to jump out pretty good on them, and we were able to have McKi pitch, to save Hannah for the next game," Bell said. "She had a good outing and got some good pitches."
Homer had lost to Ketchikan in a 6-4 game on Friday in the late innings, and coach Bell said he was hoping his team had learned enough from that contest to topple the Kings on Saturday and challenge Sitka in the state championship game.
"What I was planning on was that yesterday's game, they had five unearned runs, and I was going to pitch Hannah," Bell said. "They were hitting a lot to right field, and so I wanted to move some of our kids there if I could."
The only catch was that LaRue sprained her ankle as she was sliding to base on a triple hit against Eielson, so Bell was forced to put Needham on the mound for an inning against Ketchikan.
"I was hoping that us bringing her in would catch them off-guard," Bell said. "But they were just smacking the ball everywhere. They had a grand slam and everything."
Homer had two hits total, while Ketchikan got 10, and Stacey Woollery led Ketchikan with a grand slam.
The Kings scored two runs apiece in the first two innings, starting with an RBI double, then put up five runs in the third. From there, Homer wasn't able to find the hits that they were desperately needing.
Bell said he believes the game might have been closer if LaRue had been 100 percent healthy, but nevertheless said it was a good effort on every player.
"It was just a great season and those teams from the Southeast (Conference) are tough," he said. "We're just a notch below them, and we really need to pick up our level of play if we want to beat them next year."
This year, Homer will have to be content with a third-place showing at state.
Ketchikan advanced to the championship game against Sitka, a team they lost to earlier on Saturday in a 12-8 contest.
Sitka took their fourth-straight small-schools championship on Saturday afternoon, edging the Kings 7-6.