Hannah Barril admitted to being nervous at the start of Monday's second game of the best-of-three championship series in the Alaska State Senior Division (Age 15-16) Little League Softball Tournament at Melvin Park.
Even though she'd pitched in big games before helping Juneau's Gastineau Channel Little League All-Stars claim last year's state Junior Division (Age 13-14) title and as a freshman with the state runner-up Juneau-Douglas High School team Barril said she had the jitters.
If so, the jitters didn't matter as Barril teamed up with Torie Powers to throw a one-hitter as the GCLL All-Stars knocked off Kenai 11-0 in five innings to repeat as state Senior Division champions.
Juneau heads to Vancouver, Wash., on Friday and will play the Montana state champion on Saturday in the first game of the Western Division tournament.
"At first I was nervous, but everyone said to relax," said Barril, who allowed just a two-out, first-inning single by Elena Bird in her four innings of work (Powers threw the fifth inning). "We were all pretty pleased. My curve was working."
"It was nice," said Ashley Larson, who went 3-for-3 with a double, homer, two runs scored and two RBIs.
"We're just happy to go south again, so we can get some sun. We thought we weren't going to play today (because of the rain in other parts of town but not at the softball diamond). I think we've got a better shot at it (winning the Western Division title) this year. Last year we got to the championship game."
Barril could afford to relax after her teammates staked her to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Juneau added four more runs in the second inning.
The onslaught continued in the third inning, and in the fourth inning, Larson homered to left center field to make it 9-0.
"We knew she was due," Kenai coach Q. Bird said. "She reached down and got it. It was a nice hit."
Juneau made it 11-0 in the fifth.
In addition to Juneau's offensive fireworks, the GCLL All-Stars helped Barril out on defense. In the third inning, Juneau center fielder Alycia Cox made a nice running, diving catch to rob Kenai's Britney Baier of a hit.
Third baseman Ilea Belcourt stole a hit from Katie Stroh in the second inning when her hard throw to Larson at first base just beat Stroh to the bag.
"I thought Jordan (shortstop Jordan Johnston) had it," Cox said of her catch, which was the second of three fly balls in a stretch of four batters that she caught.
"They always tell you the first step is always back, and then you go forward. I didn't get much batting, so I had to have my chance to shine."
Juneau outhit Kenai 16-4 and outscored Kenai 19-0 in the two-game series.
But Kenai wasn't too down on its first trip to the state tournament.
"It's a great accomplishment for the girls for what they've been able to do in their two months," Bird said. "It's amazing what they can do without a high school program. This was a new level for us."
Charles Bingham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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