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Saturday softball: Kodiak tops Soldotna to defend NLC title

The Kodiak softball team defeated Soldotna twice on Saturday at Palmer to keep the Northern Lights Conference crown.

The Stars, the No. 2 seed, had defeated the top-seeded Bears 22-12 on Friday to earn a spot in the championship and earn the program’s first state berth since 2017.

That meant Kodiak would have to win three times Saturday to defend the crown.

The Bears started their day by defeating No. 3 Palmer 8-0 in the playback bracket. Palmer had advanced to the game with a 12-10 victory in seven innings that ended No. 4 Homer’s season at 14-20-2.

Homer led 3-2 after the first inning, but the Bears went on top 7-6 after three. The Mariners had it tied at 9 after five, but Kodiak got three in the bottom of the sixth and Homer was only able to answer with one in the top of the seventh.

Becca Trowbridge pitched the first 5 1-3 innings for Homer, giving up 12 runs — six earned — on seven hits. Keagan Niebuhr finished up with a scoreless and hitless two-thirds of an inning.

Sydney Shelby was 4 for 4 with three runs and three RBIs for Homer, while Julie Guess was 2 for 4 with two RBIs, Trowbridge was 2 for 4, Emily Owens was 3 for 4, Ali Gall had two runs, and Lexy Sweeney was 2 for 4.

Kodiak was then able to defeat Soldotna (21-10) twice to take the title in the double-elimination tournament.

The first game was 16-13 in seven innings. Kodiak led 6-1 after the second inning and 12-2 after the fourth inning. However, SoHi tied it up by pushing 10 runs across in the fifth.

The Bears answered with four runs in the sixth, and Soldotna could only answer with one in the seventh.

Isabelle Cruz was 2 for 4 with three runs for the Stars, while Kiara Forkner was 2 for 4 with two runs, Tatum Cooper had two runs, Alyssa McDonald had two RBIs, Bella Gares had two runs, Bailey Conner had three RBIs, and Kacey Cunningham was 2 for 4 with two RBIs.

Cruz pitched the first three innings, yielding eight runs — five earned — on three hits. Kiara Forkner pitched the last three, giving up eight runs — five earned — on eight hits.

The Bears then won the title by walking off on the Stars in the bottom of the seventh in a 10-9 game.

SoHi led 5-2 after the second inning and 6-4 after the third inning. The Bears tied it at 6 in the fourth. Both squads then put up three runs in the sixth inning before Kodiak won it in the seventh.

McDonald was 3 for 4 with two runs and two RBIs, while Cooper scored twice, Cruz had two RBIs, and Cunningham scored twice.

Cruz went 1 1-3 innings, giving up an unearned run on a hit. Forkner worked the last five innings, giving up 10 runs — eight earned — on 10 hits.

The Stars begin play at the Division II state tourney in Fairbanks on Thursday with pool play. Soldotna takes on Thunder Mountain at 2:45 p.m. and Delta at 5 p.m.

The results of pool play will be used to seed the bracket for Friday and Saturday.

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