Kenai Central's Caitlin Crabb pitches to Soldotna on Monday, April 25, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai softball walks off on Soldotna in opener

Kenai Central’s Caitlin Crabb drilled a single to left field to score Kailey Stynsberg and give Kenai Central a 21-20 walkoff victory over Soldotna on Monday at Steve Shearer Memorial Ball Park in Kenai.

The Northern Lights Conference contest was the first game of the year for both teams.

Soldotna jumped to a 4-0 lead after two innings, but Kenai led 7-4 after three innings. SoHi then led 10-9 after four innings, but Kenai lead 14-12 after five. Soldotna then led 18-15 after six innings and took a 20-15 lead into the bottom of the seventh before Crabb completed the comeback.

“You know, teamwork,” said Kenai coach Bob Frates when asked how his team had come back from five runs in the last inning. “We talk every day in practice about showing grit and never quitting and giving up. They put it to task today and did a really nice job.”

Crabb also got the win on the mound, coming on in relief for Libby Brinner after the second inning. Brinner gave up four runs, while Crabb gave up the last 16.

“Caitlin is one of our most consistent pitchers,” Frates said. “She is just so calm on the mound, which was evident with her pitching tonight.

“And then that hit right there at the end. She’s just really consistent, really calm, and doesn’t get rattled at all.”

Frates said the whole team did really well, especially considering the Kards have just a scrimmage against Colony under their belts. The coach gave credit to Avia Miller for playing a strong first base.

For Kenai, Zoey Riley had three runs, Maggie Grenier had four runs and two hits, Kyana Giriskevich had three runs and two hits, Stynsberg had three runs and two hits, Miller had three runs, Crabb had two hits and Shelby O’Brien had two runs.

“I’m super, super proud of the girls,” Frates said. “This is our second game, and I think it was their first game, and both teams just played incredibly well for their first couple games of the season.”

Soldotna coach Mike Cruz also was impressed with both teams.

“They are a pretty tough team, and it’s our first game,” Cruz said. “There was a lot of back and forth, we have to clean up a few mistakes that we had on the field, but I’m proud of the girls.”

Cruz said a few mental lapses cost his squad in the bottom of the seventh, but he also gave credit to Kenai for timely hitting. Miah Mead, Isabelle Cruz and Kiara Forkner did the pitching for SoHi.

“I’m happy the ladies got to play and get those first-game jitters out,” Cruz said. “You’ll see improvement as we go along.”

Cruz said Alyssa McDonald had a standout game, making great plays at third base, plus smacking and home run and a triple, and scoring two runs.

Also for SoHi, Emily Hinz had three runs, Mead had two hits and three runs, Brook Fischer had two runs and two hits, Lexi Stormo had two runs, Makynzi Deborski had two runs, Forkner had two runs, Cruz had two runs and Bailey Conner had two hits.

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