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Kenai, Kodiak softball move to NLC semifinal

The Kenai Central and Kodiak softball teams reached the semifinal at the Northern Lights Conference tournament in Homer on Thursday.

The Kardinals, the No. 3 seed, had to win twice to get to the semi. Kenai defeated No. 6 Houston 22-1 in three innings, and then topped No. 2 Palmer 29-20.

The Bears, the top seed, defeated No. 5 Homer 14-12. The Mariners had reached that game by upsetting No. 4 Soldotna 15-9.

Today, Kenai and Kodiak will play at 3 p.m. to see who makes the final. The winner of that game also gets one of the two Division II state berths up for grabs at the tournament.

In the playback bracket, Houston plays Homer at 10 a.m. and Soldotna plays Palmer at 12:30 p.m. in a pair of loser-out games.

At 5:30 p.m., the Houston-Homer winner and Soldotna-Palmer winner play another loser-out game.

The winner of that game plays the Kenai-Kodiak loser at 10 a.m. Saturday for the second state berth.

The winner of that game plays the Kenai-Kodiak winner for the title. Since the tourney is double elimination, the Kenai-Kodiak winner gets an if-necessary game if the first title contest is lost.

Homer 15, Soldotna 9

The Mariners opened the tourney with a victory over Soldotna.

Homer scored five runs in the top of the first, but the Stars were trailing 6-5 after two innings and 7-5 after four.

The Mariners then scored five runs in the sixth and three runs in the seventh to salt away the win.

For the Mariners, Ariana Davis was 4 for 5 with four runs, Julie Guess had three runs, Becca Trowbridge was 2 for 5 with three RBIs, Alaiyah Brost was 3 for 5 with three runs and five RBIs, and Emily Owens had two runs.

For Soldotna, Alyssa McDonald was 2 for 3 with three runs and four RBIs, and Isabella Gares had two runs.

Kenai 22, Houston 1

The Kardinals opened the tournament by overpowering the Hawks in three innings.

Kenai scored nine times in the first inning and 13 times in the second to go up 22-0. Houston got a run in the third, but it was not enough to avoid the mercy rule.

Kailey Stynsberg was 2 for 3 with three runs and three RBIs for the Kards, while Maggie Grenier had four runs and two RBIs, Avery Ellis had two runs, Kyana Griskevich had two runs, Lola McEwen had three runs and two RBIs, Sarai Bravo-Moe had three runs, Shelby Hemphill had two runs and two RBIs, and Avia Miller had two runs and three RBIs.

Kodiak 14, Homer 12

The Mariners threw a scare into the Bears, the top seed, as Kodiak moved to the semifinal.

Homer led 3-1 after two innings and 4-3 after three innings. Kodiak went up 9-4 after four innings, but the Mariners went up 10-9 after 4 1-2.

Kodiak came back with five funs in the bottom of the fifth and the Mariners could not overcome that.

Trowbridge was 2 for 4 for Homer, while Brost had two runs, Keagan Niebuhr had two RBIs, Owens was 2 for 3, Charlotte Fraley had two runs, and Katelyn Cowdrey was 2 for 3 with three runs and three RBIs.

Kenai 29, Palmer 20

The Kardinals upset the Moose in a six-inning slugfest to move to the semifinal.

Kenai trailed 5-3 after an inning and 11-10 after two innings. The Kardinals then had a 12-11 lead after three innings.

Palmer tied the game at 15 after four innings, then led 19-18 after five innings. Kenai then poured on 11 runs in the top of the sixth inning and Palmer could only answer with one.

Stynsberg was 2 for 6 with six runs for Kenai, while Grenier was 2 for 4 with three runs and two RBIs, Zoey Riley had three runs, Ellis was 4 for 6 with five runs and three RBIs, Griskevich was 2 for 4 with two runs and four RBIs, Bravo-Moe had four runs and three RBIs, Hemphill had two runs and five RBIs, and Miller scored a pair of runs.

Ellis came on in relief for Kenai and went five innings for the win, giving up 10 runs — nine earned — on seven hits while walking 10 and striking out six.

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