Kenai Moose Lodge won all six of its games to win the 30-team Alaska State Division E Coed Softball Tournament Saturday and Sunday at the Kenai Ballfields.
Moose Lodge, the No. 1 seed in the tournament, wrapped up its run through the tournament with a 17-5 victory in four innings over Homer’s Home Run Oil.
“We had a lot of team spirit,” Moose Lodge manager Mike Hill said. “We started practicing in late March. When there was still snow on the field, we were out here practicing. We worked hard for this.”
Moose Lodge came to the plate first in the game and jumped to a 3-0 lead. The Oilers got back two runs in the bottom of the first, but Moose Lodge extended the lead to 8-2 in the top of the second.
The Oilers cut the lead to 8-4 in the bottom of the second, then held Moose Lodge scoreless in the third and scored another run to make it 8-5.
In the top of the fourth inning, Moose Lodge erupted. The first nine runners reached base as nine runs scored in the inning. The Oilers didn’t get a Moose Lodge batter out until Moose Lodge launched a home run. However, a rule states that a team only gets one home run a game, and Moose Lodge already had a home run, meaning this dinger was an out.
After flexing offensive muscle, Moose Lodge also showed defensive might in closing out the game in the bottom of the fourth inning. The Oilers needed to score one run in the inning to avoid the mercy rule. They loaded the bases with one out.
However, second baseman John Krause, shortstop T.J. Whisnant and first baseman Michelle Hanson combined on a double play to end the game and start the celebration.
The celebration included hat and glove tossing on the infield, getting together as a team and burying home plate with dirt, and dumping a cooler full of ice water on Hill.
Moose Lodge won the Kenai city league and the city league tournament. It also won the Wayne Gore Memorial in Wasilla and the Powerade Invitational in Anchorage. However, Moose Lodge did not win its first two tournaments of the year.
“This team pulled together and started treating each other like family,” Hill said. “That all started in Wasilla, when we won the championship.”
Hill said the team has been building for seven years. This is the third time the team tried to win the state tournament.
“The third time’s the charm,” said Hill, whose team was down 10 runs to First National Bank of Anchorage early in the tournament and scored eight runs in the seventh inning to win the game.
Heath Smith, the manager of the Oilers, gave credit to Moose Lodge for rising to the occasion. He said the Oilers have often been able to defeat Moose Lodge in the past two years, but that wasn’t the case Sunday. In an earlier game, Moose Lodge defeated the Oilers 13-2.
“They’ve got a lot of young players, and they hit the ball very well,” Smith said. “We’ve been averaging 15 runs a game this year. They stifled us, for sure.”
Dave Segura had four RBIs to lead Moose Lodge in the title game, while Hanson and Whisnant each had three runs. Brandon Robichaux, Whisnant, Angela Hall and Segura all hit over .700 for the tournament. Robichaux and Amanda Bauer were the Most Valuable Players for Moose Lodge, while Krause, Whisnant, Segura, Crystal Walsh, Cassandra Beaudry and Hall were all on the all-tournament team.
The Oilers reached the title game by defeating Kenai’s Last Around, which finished third. After the 13-2 loss to Moose Lodge, the Oilers rebounded to put 18 runs on the board against Last Around. The Oilers had to sweat out a comeback that saw Last Around put seven runs on the board in the seventh inning to lose 18-13.
Oilers Most Valuable Players Doug Koch and Ellen Bauer both hit over .800 for the tournament. All-tournament players for the Oilers were Smith, Scott Bauer, Tanya Norris and Gretchen Duggar.
All-tournament players from Last Around were Chris Castillo, Eric Trevino, Teresa Gallego and Chelain Rust.
Sea Galley/Red Apple of Anchorage was fourth, Northwest Auto of Anchorage was fifth and SAL No. 35 of Anchorage was sixth. Sea Galley’s all-tournament players were Art Clark and Taleen Mikulenka.
Also from the area, Hooligan’s of the central peninsula had a 3-2 record, Hair Tech of the central peninsula had a 2-2 record and Growlers of Homer went two and out.
Smith also is the Alaska Softball Association Kenai Peninsula District Commissioner.
“Taking the top three spots here has got to show we play a high caliber of ball,” Smith said. “We’re always well-represented at tournaments around the state.”
Moose Lodge now has a chance to go to nationals. Hill doesn’t know much about nationals because he refused to look until his squad won state.
“I’ve got to start raising money because this team really wants to go,” Hill said.
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