Story last updated at 3:56 p.m. Thursday, May 23, 2002

Homer softballers play hardball with Palmer
by Sepp Jannotta
Staff Writer

Usually high school softball is a G-rated event, a feel-good family affair that radiates wholesome, fresh-faced innocence. Roll the lilting flute music and song birds.

But lately, the diamond isn't all Disney. Recent opponents of Homer High School's softball team have experienced a definite Freddie Krueger feeling. Roll the ominously descending notes of 20 off-key violins.

After the three-game mugging they put on Palmer last weekend, you may not want to find yourself in a dark alley with these Mariners, just to be on the safe side.

The Mariners have ridden their ruthless play to a seven-game winning streak over the past two weekends and earned a berth to the State Tournament in the process.

They've done it with a solid hitting up and down the lineup and with a running game that could be called obscene <> the Mariners swiped 24 bases against Wasilla two weeks ago.

On Friday, the Palmer girls hadn't even smoothed the bus-ride wrinkles out of their uniforms before they were staring in horror at a 21-run deficit <> in the first inning.

When the game was finally called after the fourth inning, the Mariners were up 35-9.

"It's impossible to single any one player out for their individual contribution," Homer coach Scott Bauer said. "We were just hitting the ball really hard."

The mercy rule was not immediately invoked, so the teams could get in a little more playing time. The rule states a game can be called when one team is ahead by 15 runs after three innings or 10 runs after five innings.

The original plan of playing a full seven-inning game was, well, mercifully forgotten.

The Mariners then awoke Saturday morning, and handed the Moose two more lopsided beatings. The Mariners won the first game of the doubleheader 14-4, called for the 10-run rule after five innings. They cruised 11-1 in the second game, also called after five innings.

In addition to all the thunder his team's bats are providing, Bauer said the pitching and defense have been outstanding.

The only losses for the Mariners, now 8-3, came against Kodiak.

They will travel to the Susitna Valley to play the final three games of the regular season, starting with a game against Wasilla on Friday.

When the Mariners make their second-ever appearance at State on May 31, they hope to improve on last year's two-losses-and-out performance.

Bauer thinks his team has the bats to handle the tough pitching they will face.

"The intensity level will increase," Bauer said. "And that's what I hope to focus on over the next two weeks before state."