Fired up after three days of grueling competition at the Invitational Round-Robin in Juneau last Thursday-Saturday, the Mariner softball team bounced back Monday with an impressive 17-0 victory over Kenai Central in three innings of play.
“That was kind of my plan, that we would score a lot of tough games before we got into conference play,” said Mariner Head Coach Bill Bell.
“It would have been nice to win some of those (Juneau games), but those weren’t critical.”
In Monday’s Northern Lights Conference play with Kenai, Mariner McKi Needham pitched three shutout innings, giving up only one hit. Larsen Fellows was 3 for 4, with two runs and three RBIs to lead Homer, while Lauren Kuhns was 2 for 2.
Riley Walls, Needham and Pam Jantzi each scored three times for Homer. Maggie LaRue scored twice.
Monday’s game was the perfect illustration of Bell’s game plan.
“We grew a lot between Thursday and when we left Juneau on Sunday,” said Bell of the May 1-3 school-of-hard-knocks games.
The Mariners’ first game at the Invitational Round Robin was a 9-1 loss to Ketchikan, the reigning state runner-ups. Jantzi pitched two 1-3 innings with six hits and six earned runs, while Needham went three innings with seven hits and three earned runs.
In their second game of that day, Homer fell 17-1 to the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears. The Mariners got four hits: Needham went 2 for 2, with Larue and Fellows each adding a hit.
Needham was the starting pitcher, giving up eight hits and seven earned runs. Jantzi pitched the final two outs with seven hits and nine earned runs.
The following day, Sitka took the lead over Homer 12-7, followed by the Mariner’s 10-2 loss to Thunder Mountain.
The score of Saturday morning’s rematch between the Mariners and the Crimson Bears showed a marked difference, with Juneau taking a 5-2 victory.
That was followed by an 11-3 loss to Sitka, a 15-4 loss to Ketchikan and, in the final game, a 6-4 loss to Thunder Mountain.
Scores from the Mariners’ Wednesday game in Homer with the SoHi Stars were not available by press time.
Upcoming games include:
• Friday 6 and 7:30 p.m.: JV softball vs. Houston at Houston;
• Saturday 9 a.m.: JV softball vs. East High at East High;
• Saturday, 10 a.m.: JV softball vs. Service at Service.
“It’s rough on everybody, but we just crash through,” said Bell of the demanding game schedule.
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.