After a doubleheader Friday in Soldotna, Kodiak softball coach Dave Allen approached Stars coach Dave Cleveland and jokingly reminded him the Bears still haven't received any players in the trade for the Hegge sisters.
Savannah Hegge, a junior, and Nikki, a freshman, moved to Soldotna from Kodiak in the offseason and Savannah has been Soldotna's top pitcher.
After Kodiak took two Northern Lights Conference games from Soldotna on Friday and one on Saturday, don't expect Cleveland to feel too sorry for Allen anytime soon.
"They're the defending state champions and they have eight seniors," Cleveland said. "They know how to play the game."
Kodiak moved to 5-1 in the league with the victories, while Soldotna fell to 0-4. Three of Soldotna's losses have come by one run.
The Stars must win their final two conference games -- both against Homer -- in order to qualify for state. Soldotna plays in Homer on Tuesday at 6 p.m., then hosts the Mariners on Friday at 6 p.m.
"We were in every game and that bodes well for the future," Cleveland said. "We're looking forward to winning our two final conference games and qualifying for state."
In Friday's first game, an 8-3 loss that was shortened to six innings due to a time limit, Hegge took the mound against her former team and struck out the first three batters she faced.
"She was my pitcher the last two years," Allen said.
"She has great speed. She shut us down until the fourth inning, when we could get some timing on her."
After taking the lead in the first inning, Cleveland said his squad fell victim to poor defense, letting five runs come in unearned. Emily Garner had a double and a pair of runs for the Bears, while Cimone Trout also scored twice.
Rachel Norton picked up the win for Kodiak, hurling all six innings.
For Soldotna, Mariah Darrow was 2-for-3 with two doubles, Hannah Romberg had a double and Lacey Norman was 1-for-2.
"We hit the ball, the hits were just scattered at the wrong time," Cleveland said.
That trend continued in Friday's second game -- a 4-2 victory for the Bears. Soldotna had nine hits to Kodiak's three, but the Stars left 10 runners on base and committed six errors. The errors led to two unearned runs.
Kodiak struck first in the first inning when Norton singled to score Trout and Janelle Tirona. After that, Norman settled in and allowed just one hit and two unearned runs before Hegge relieved her in the seventh.
The Stars tried to answer in their half of the first, but a Megan Hardy blast to center field was snagged by Trout for the second out of the inning. The catch saved a run because Darrow and Romberg followed with singles.
Trout saved another run in the fifth when, with her team up 3-0 and runners on first and third with two outs, Romberg poked a sinking liner to center that Trout dove to catch.
"She wasn't happy with her offense, but she made up for it on defense," Allen said.
Soldotna got on the board in the sixth when Amandra Cobb singled and scored on an error, but Kodiak answered with a run in the seventh for a 4-1 game.
In the bottom of the frame, Hardy started a one-out rally when she reached on an error. After Darrow singled, Romberg singled to score Hardy. Darrow moved to third and Romberg to second on the throw to the plate.
Allen brought in reliever Addie Jones, and Jones recorded a pop-out and ground-out to end the game. Allen said a hard-throwing, left-handed closer like Jones is an invaluable asset.
"She comes in in the bottom of the seventh and boom, boom, the game's over," Allen said. "Most of my pitchers take a few batters to warm up, but she's ready right away."
Darrow and Briana VinZant were 2-for-3 in the game, while Romberg was 2-for-4.
Saturday, the Bears scored a run in the top of the seventh for a 4-3 victory. That seventh-inning tally came after Soldotna had come back to tie the game at 3 in the bottom of the sixth.
Hegge started for the Stars and pitched seven innings, giving up seven hits and two earned runs while striking out nine. Richana Mahle pitched the first three innings for the Bears and gave up two runs-- one earned -- while Jones came in and pitched the final four innings, yielding one earned run.
Hegge had a triple and an RBI, while Hardy was 2-for-4 with two runs.
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