Soldotna catcher Gavin Jones records an out Wednesday, May 19, 2021, against Kenai Central at the Kenai Little League fields in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Peninsula baseball teams seek state berths

Soldotna High School will host the Southcentral Conference baseball tournament at the Soldotna Little League fields from today through Saturday.

This will be the first time the conference tournament has been played after the Alaska School Activities Association divided baseball into two classes.

In the Southcentral Conference tournament up to 2019, nine teams would often compete for two state berths.

In the new system, Division I schools Colony and Wasilla are no longer in the conference. Wasilla won the 2019 state baseball crown, while Colony was fourth.

The new league has eight teams, with three state berths up for grabs. In addition, ASAA will dole out three at-large berths to the state tournament.

This gives Kenai Peninsula schools Soldotna, Kenai Central and Homer a much better chance of earning a state berth. Soldotna hasn’t been to state since 2016, while Kenai hasn’t been since 2012 and Homer hasn’t been since 2009.

Kodiak earned the No. 1 seed at the tournament with a 9-1 league record, while Palmer is No. 2 with a 9-1 league record.

Palmer opens with No. 7 Houston today at 10 a.m. at Gerke Field, while Kodiak takes on No. 8 Redington at 1 p.m. today at the SoHi Field.

Soldotna, with a 7-3 league record, earned the No. 3 seed and faces No. 6 Kenai (2-7) at 10 a.m. today at SoHi Field. Homer, the No. 5 seed with a 4-6 record, faces Grace at 1 p.m. at Gerke Field.

The easiest way for a team to advance to state is to win both games Thursday and advance to Friday’s 7 p.m. championship at SoHi Field. The loser of that game can get no worse than third place.

A Thursday loss means a tough climb through the consolation bracket. After losing last season to the coronavirus pandemic, playing as many as five games in three days will be challenging due to a lack of experienced pitching depth.

Southcentral Conference tournament

Thursday’s games

Game 1 — Palmer vs. Houston, 10 a.m. at Gerke Field

Game 2 — Soldotna vs. Kenai, 10 a.m. at SoHi Field

Game 3 — Kodiak vs. Redington, 1 p.m. at SoHi Field

Game 4 — Grace vs. Homer, 1 p.m. at Gerke Field

Game 5 — Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 4 p.m. at SoHi Field

Game 6 — Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 7 p.m. at SoHi Field

Friday’s games

Game 7 — Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 10 a.m. at SoHi Field

Game 8 — Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 loser, 10 a.m. at Gerke Field

Game 9 — Game 7 winner vs. Game 6 loser, 3 p.m. at SoHi Field

Game 10 — Game 8 winner vs. Game 5 loser, 3 p.m. at Gerke Field

Championship — Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 7 p.m. at SoHi Field

Saturday’s games

Game 12 — Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner, 10 a.m. at SoHi Field

Game 13 — Game 12 winner vs. Game 11 loser, 1 p.m. at SoHi Field

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