North Pole eliminates Homer at state softball

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The Homer softball team was eliminated from the Division II state softball tournament at Cartee Fields in Anchorage with a 21-20 loss to North Pole on Friday.

The Mariners (17-7-1 overall) started bracket play Friday with a 13-4 victory over Delta, but then Homer dropped into the playback bracket with a 12-10 loss to Ketchikan.

Homer had defeated North Pole 15-12 on Thursday in pool play before getting eliminated by the Patriots late Friday.

“Overall, I’m so amazed at what we’ve been able to accomplish,” Homer coach Bill Bell said. “We started with a team that was half composed of freshmen that hadn’t played before and got through a winning regular season before winning the region tournament.

“To do as well as we did at state against the Southeast teams is absolutely incredible.”

Southeast teams have dominated the state tournament in recent years. Juneau-Douglas continued that Saturday by defeating North Pole 16-4 for the 12th straight championship for Southeast. Homer lost 19-11 to Juneau on Thursday before losing to Ketchikan on Friday.

“I think there’s a lot of parity,” Bell said. “We’ve made that jump some years ago to where the pitching difference is not as significant, and we’re getting to that point in hitting.”

Homer showed just how good it can be at the plate by smacking eight home runs in five games, with Haylee Owen rolling up two games of two home runs.

The Mariners lose significant players to graduation. Bell said Hannah Hatfield is probably the best shortstop the program has had, while Grace Godfrey has been a cornerstone for years and Owen is a solid catcher, first baseman and hitter.

“Those are three really big shoulders that have helped carry this team,” Bell said.

Bell said the program has some good juniors coming up in Delilah Harris, Sophie Ellison and Kahleah Fraley. Junior pitcher Zoe Adkins threw all 580 pitches for Homer at state. She was still throwing 60 percent strikes at the end of state.

“She came away from state really committed to working hard this winter to step up to another level,” Bell said.

Bell said the freshmen also have had their eyes opened to what a high level of softball is, and they are ready to face it.

Friday against North Pole, Homer led 6-1 after the second inning, but the Patriots came back to lead 11-9 after four innings. Homer tied it up in the fifth, then exploded for nine runs and a 20-11 lead after the top of the seventh inning. The Patriots managed to tie the game with a nine-run rally of their own in the bottom of the seventh to send the game to extra innings.

Homer didn’t score in the top of the eighth, but North Pole was able to push across a run in the bottom of the inning to win.

“They just flat ran out of gas,” Bell said of a team playing a fifth game in two days. “They hung in as much as they could. Zoe had lost 4 or 5 mph and they were just teeing off.”

Adkins pitched all seven innings, but only five of her runs were earned as the Mariners committed 11 errors. Adkins walked six and struck out five.

Godfrey went 5 for 5 with four runs and two RBIs, while Owen was 4 for 4 with six runs and five RBIs and Adkins was 2 for 5 with two runs and two RBIs. Also for Homer, Hatfield had two runs, Julie Guess had two runs and two RBIs, and Ellison had two runs.

Ketchikan 12, Homer 10

Friday afternoon, the Mariners lost a close contest to the Kings to fall into the playback bracket.

Ketchikan led 3-0 after two innings, but Homer took a 4-3 lead after the top of the third only to have the Kings grab a 7-4 lead after three innings. Both teams then scored two runs in the fourth, two runs in the fifth and a run in the sixth. Homer closed the gap to 12-10 with a run in the seventh, but could get no closer.

Zoe Adkins worked all six innings, giving up 12 runs — six earned — on 13 hits while walking three and striking out none.

Emily Owens was 3 for 4 for Homer, while Hannah Hatfield was 2 for 3 with three runs, Haylee Owen had two RBIs, Grace Godfrey was 2 for 4 with two runs, Adkins was 2 for 4 with two runs and four RBIs, and Delilah Harris was 2 for 4.

Homer 13, Delta 4

In the first game of Friday morning, Homer cruised past the Huskies.

The Mariners led 3-0 after the first inning, 6-1 after the second, 10-2 after the third and 11-4 after the fifth.

Zoe Adkins went the distance for Homer, pitching seven innings and allowing eight hits and four runs — one earned — while walking three and striking out one.

On offense, Grace Godfrey was 5 for 5 with two runs and four RBIs and Haylee Owen was 4 for 4 with four runs and four RBIs. Also for the Mariners, Hannah Hatfield scored three runs, Delilah Harris was 2 for 5 with two runs and Ariana Davis was 2 for 4.

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