Homer softball goes 1-1 in state softball pool play

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The Homer softball team went 1-1 Thursday in pool play at the Division II state softball tournament in Fairbanks.

The results of pool play are used to set the bracket for today and Saturday.

Homer will play Kodiak at noon today, with the winner going on to play Delta Junction at 2:30 p.m. for a spot in Saturday’s semifinal.

In Pool A, Delta was first, Ketchikan was second and Kodiak was third. In Pool B, Thunder Mountain was first, Homer was second and North Pole was third.

Homer is very familiar with Kodiak, a rival from the Northern Lights Conference. The Mariners lost all three games to the Bears in the regular season before beating Kodiak twice to take the NLC tournament title.

“It’ll be a challenge,” Homer coach Bill Bell said. “They’re a team that knows us as much as any team knows us.”

Bell said the team has been improving a lot lately due to working with Derek Foote, a hitting coach who lives in Soldotna.

“Once we started hitting, it made all the difference in the world,” Bell said. “It forgives a number of smaller errors.”

Still, Bell said the team will have to play better defense to win the state title. In a 13-11 victory over North Pole, Homer made six errors leading to six unearned runs. In a 10-1 loss to Thunder Mountain, Homer made 10 errors leading to eight unearned runs.

Zoe Adkins threw every pitch for Homer on Thursday.

“We continue to live and die by the way Zoe is playing at the moment,” Bell said. “When she’s pitching well and hitting her spots, we’re in good shape, because if she’s pitching well, she’s hitting well.”

The coach said the loss of left fielder Emily Owens to a trip to Europe will hurt, but he said Kaylin Anderson is playing well at shortstop and hit a home run against North Pole. Delilah Harris is on the verge of some big hits, while Bell said freshman Becca Trowbridge shows signs of being a cornerstone of the program for years to come.

The coach also said the team will have to keep its cool, with temperatures in Fairbanks getting into the 80s on Thursday.

Against North Pole, Homer got its first victory in four tries against the Patriots.

Homer led 8-2 after the second inning and 10-2 after the fourth inning, but North Pole cut it to 10-7 after the top of the fifth. The Mariners then went into the seventh leading 13-8 before the Patriots scored three runs to come up short.

Adkins pitched all seven innings, giving up 11 runs — five earned — on seven hits while walking eight and striking out four.

At the plate, Kaylin Anderson was 2 for 3 with two runs and three RBIs, Adkins was 3 for 4, Harris was 2 for 4 with two runs, Trowbridge was 3 for 4, Owens was 2 for 3 with two runs and two RBIs, and Sophie Ellison had two RBIs.

Against Thunder Mountain, Adkins went five innings and gave up 10 runs — two earned — on five hits while walking five and striking out two.

Anderson had a a hit and an RBI to lead the Mariners.

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