The Homer and Soldotna softball teams earned a split on Saturday, the final day of the Blue and Gold Battle tournament in Anchorage.
After falling to South and West Valley in a pair of games Friday with scores of 16-1 and 15-2, respectively, the Stars lost a close 11-10 contest Saturday morning to West Anchorage to cap round-robin play.
The 0-3 start advanced SoHi to a meeting with Bartlett on Saturday afternoon, which they dominated to the tune of 23-12.
Meanwhile, Homer split a pair of Friday matchups, besting Colony in a close 9-8 win but falling to reigning large-schools state champion East Anchorage 8-0. Saturday morning, the Mariners beat Bartlett 9-2 before suffering a 6-2 loss to Hutchison.
West Anchorage 11, Soldotna 10
A double to the left-center field gap scored the winning run in the top of the fifth inning for the Eagles in a Saturday afternoon game.
“The last inning, we weren’t able to push a run across,” said SoHi coach Kelli Knoebel.
After West took a 3-0 lead at the top of the first inning, SoHi responded with four runs in the bottom of the frame, then added three more in the second to take a 7-5 lead. The Stars plated three runs in the fourth to tie things up at 10 apiece.
Emily Jackson pitched the complete game for Soldotna, getting no strikeouts and issuing two walks.
Amber McDonald had a triple and RBI while finishing 2 for 3, while teammate Delaney Crosby-Schneider hit 2 for 2 and took a walk to score three runs and three RBI. Meghan Ussing also hit 2 for 3 and had three RBI.
“In the end, we couldn’t get the run,” Knoebel said. “But to come back against West and get our bats behind us early on, it was a good sign.”
Soldotna 23, Bartlett 12
Playing in their fourth game in two days, the Stars capped off the weekend with a win over the Golden Bears.
Jackson took the pitching circle once again and struck out two while walking four.
Macylea Elsey blasted an inside-the-park home run in the fourth inning to lead the charge for SoHi, as the Stars scored a whopping 12 runs in the frame. Elsey’s homer scored three runs.
McDonald delivered two doubles and scored three runs, Crosby-Schneider hit 2 for 4 with a triple and four RBIs, and Ussing was 1 for 3.
“We were getting tired at that point and we had a couple errors, but we were able to come back,” Knoebel said. “We managed to get everybody to score.”
The Stars end the weekend with a 5-3 overall record this season.
Homer 9, Bartlett 2
Four doubles by McKi Needham led the day at the plate for the Mariners. Needham hit her way to second base in the first, second, fourth and fifth innings. Overall, Homer outhit Bartlett 12-5.
Mary Hana Bowe went 3 for 3 with three runs and Malina Fellows was 2 for 2.
In the pitching circle, Annali Metz, Izabelle Hagge and Needham combined to give up just two runs on five hits and five strikeouts, while walking just two. Needham herself struck out three and gave up one hit.
The Mariners took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first, then scored one in the second, three in the third, one in the fourth and two in the fifth to round out the scoring.
Homer 6, Hutchison 2
The Mariners ended the Blue and Gold Battle with a loss to the Hawks.
Hutchison scored twice in the first inning and held Homer scoreless until the top of the fourth, when Needham stole home plate to cut the gap to 3-1.
However, Hutchison tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the fifth to ice the victory.
Five players each had a hit for Homer, and Needham again led the way with a double, her fifth of the day. Needham also pitched the complete game in five innings, giving up four earned runs on eight hits and zero walks, while striking out five.
South 16, Soldotna 1
The Wolverines threw everything at the Stars on Friday, opening the game with nine runs in the first inning.
SoHi’s lone run came when Amber McDonald reached base on an error, then scored off a hit from Danielle Hills.
Delaney Crosby-Schneider hit 2 for 2 with a double.
SoHi coach Kelli Knoebel chalked up the loss to a few crucial errors by the Stars defense.
“We went up against some good teams that had good pitching,” Knoebel said. “We had a lot of strikeouts, and were looking at strikes.”
Emily Jackson pitched three innings for SoHi and walked five.
West Valley 15, Soldotna 2
The Wolfpack opened Friday’s late game with two runs in the first frame, but proceeded to blow it open with six in the second inning and seven in the third.
Danielle Hills pitched for SoHi with two strikeouts, two hits and 12 walks in her first varsity start of the year. West Valley knocked in a three-run homer off Hills in the second inning to open the lead.
The Stars scored in the third inning, starting with a West Valley error that got Carlin Meyer on base and Macylea Elsey home, then McDonald singled in Meyer.
“We took a lot of pitches and we ended up with strikeouts,” said Knoebel.
East 8, Homer 0
The defending large-school state champions shut out the Mariners in Friday’s early game, scoring two runs in the first inning and continuing with two more in the third and three in the fifth.
Daisy Page controlled the game in the pitching circle for East, giving up just one hit and striking out 11 Homer batters.
McKi Needham pitched well for Homer, going four innings and giving up three earned runs on six hits while issuing zero walks and two strikeouts. However, the Homer defense had five errors.
The Thunderbirds out hit the Mariners 8-1.
Homer’s lone hit came courtesy of Kelly Liebers, who sent a single to right field in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Homer 9, Colony 8
The Mariners rallied with a two-run single by Kyah Doughty in the top of the fifth inning to beat the Knights in Friday’s late game.
Mary Hana Bowe hit 3 for 3 to lead Homer, while Izabelle Hagge was 2 for 4 with a triple and Isabel Beach was 2 for 3 with two runs. The two sides combined for 20 hits, with Homer notching 13 of them. Both sides also committed four errors.
Hagge started in the circle and pitched two innings of three-hit ball, giving up four earned runs and walking four. Needham then finished off the final three frames of relief with no earned runs on four hits.
Colony took a 4-0 lead in the first inning and extended the lead to 6-1 after two frames.
However, Homer regrouped and plated six runs in the third inning to take a 7-6 lead, but Colony responded with a run each in the fourth and fifth frames.