The first day of the Northern Lights Conference tournament in Kodiak saw a lot of rain and saw Homer and Kodiak advance to the semifinals.
Homer advanced by defeating Kenai Central 18-1, while Kodiak topped Soldotna 19-2 to gain the semi.
Earlier, Kenai had moved to the matchup against Homer by defeating Houston 18-10. The Hawks were bumped into an evening survival game against SoHi, where the Stars won 14-2 to keep their season alive.
Kenai and SoHi start play today at 10 a.m. in the playback bracket, with the Stars owning two victories over the Kardinals this season. The loser of that game sees its season end, while the winner faces the loser of the Homer-Kodiak semi, which is at 12:30 p.m., for a state berth and a berth in the final. That playbacks semi is at 3 p.m.
The championship is at 5:30 p.m., with the if-necessary game at 7:30 p.m.
Soldotna 14, Houston 2, 4 innings
The No. 2 Stars stayed alive by knocking the No. 5 Hawks out of the tournament.
SoHi coach Kelli Knoebel said the victory was nice coming after a big loss to Kodiak.
“No team is above getting beat, and we got it handed to us,” Knoebel said. “We talked about having the will and the desire to fight harder and live another day.”
In just her second varsity appearance, Madilyn Barkman threw a complete game for the Stars, striking out four.
At the plate, Casey Earll was 3 for 3 with a double, Casey Card was 3 for 3 with two triples and Taralynn Frates was 2 for 3. At the bottom of the order, Kya Ahlers provided a big boost by going 3 for 3 for the first time this season.
Homer 16, Kenai 1, 3 innings
Annalynn Brown was dominant in moving the top-seeded Mariners past the No. 4 Kards and into the semifinals.
Brown pitched all three innings and gave up a run and a hit while whiffing six and walking one. At the plate, she was 4 for 4 with three runs and three RBIs.
“She’s an excellent player,” Kenai coach John Manley said of Brown. “She could be the best pitcher in the conference.”
Kenai had some tough luck when pitcher Savannah Jones left in the first inning with an arm injury. Kaylee Lauritsen was pressed into duty on the mound for the first time in her varsity career.
Lauritsen gave up 13 runs and walked 10.
“She walked a few, but she’s young and it’s the first varsity game she ever pitched,” Manley said. “She did better as the game went on.
“I think she’s going to be good in the future for this team.”
Also for Homer on offense, Haylee Owen was 2 for 3 with two runs, and Grace Godfrey, Kaitlyn Johnson and Sam Moonin had two runs.
Alyssa Stanton had the hit and run for the Kardinals.
Kodiak 19, Soldotna 2, 4 innings
Playing in a steady downpour, the No. 3 Bears took advantage of familiar weather to cruise past the No. 2 Stars.
“It was just one of those games where we had to mentally respond to the elements and rain and we didn’t have it,” Soldotna coach Kelli Knoebel said.
The Stars gave up nine runs in the first inning and never threatened to get back in the game after that. Taralynn Frates was on the hill for Soldotna.
SoHi’s lone runs came in the third inning, when Ashley McDonald drew a walk and Bailey Berger had a run-scoring hit. Berger would come around to score later.
Kenai 18, Houston 10, 5 innings
The No. 4 Kardinals started the tournament by knocking off the No. 5 Hawks.
Savannah Jones was solid on the mound for Kenai, going all five innings and striking out six.
Kaylee Lauristen had a big game at the plate, going 4 for 4 with a bases-loaded triple, two doubles and two runs. Also for the Kardinals, Alyssa Stanton had two walks, a triple and three runs; Lexy Carrasco had a double, walk and two runs; Leinani Rapoza had two doubles, two hits and four runs; and Lexi Reis had a triple, single, walk and scored three runs.
“Houston’s moving in the right direction,” Kenai coach John Manley said. “The game was closer than what it seemed.
“Savannah pitched well. It was a good win. I told them not to take Houston lightly.”