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Soldotna softball wins in 1st round at NLC tourney; Homer, Kenai pushed into playback bracket

Soldotna is the only team from the Kenai Peninsula to get through the first day of the double-elimination Northern Lights Conference tournament Thursday at Palmer without a loss.

The Stars (19-8 overall), the No. 2 seed, defeated No. 7 Houston 19-7 in the first round.

No. 4 Homer (13-19-2) defeated No. 5 Kenai (7-18) in the first round, but then fell 13-1 to top seed Kodiak in the next round.

Friday, the Stars continue in the winners bracket with a 10 a.m. game against No. 3 Palmer, which defeated No. 6 Redington 12-4. The winner of that game faces the Bears at 6 p.m. for a spot in the championship.

Kenai and Homer now must work their way through the playback bracket. A team must finish in the top two of the NLC tourney to make the Division II state tourney. There are no at-large berths.

Homer plays the Redington-Houston winner at 4 p.m. Friday. Kenai plays the Palmer-Soldotna loser at 2 p.m. Friday.

Homer 21, Kenai 13

A big bottom of the fourth inning powered the Mariners out of the first round.

Homer led 7-4 after the first inning, but Kenai battled back to take a 13-8 lead entering the bottom of the fourth. The Mariners erupted for 10 runs in the fourth, then tacked on three more in the fifth to secure the victory.

Julie Guess was 3 for 4 with three runs and three RBIs for Homer, while Charlotte Fraley had two runs, Becca Trowbridge was 2 for 4 with four runs and two RBIs, Emily Owens was 3 for 4 with two runs and three RBIs, Alaiyah Brost was 2 for 3 with three runs, Ali Gall was 2 for 2 with two runs and four RBIs, Keagan Niebuhr had three RBIs, Sydney Shelby had two runs and Lexy Sweeney had two runs.

Trowbridge pitched 3 1-3 innings, giving up seven runs — four earned — on two hits. Niebuhr pitched the last 1 2-3 innings, giving up six runs on three hits.

Kenai was able to work Homer pitchers for 15 walks. Peighton Curren was 2 for 3 with four RBIs, while Kailey Stynsberg had two runs and two RBIs, Caitlyn Crapps had two runs, Zoey Riley had two runs, Isabel Thomas had two runs, and Lola McEwen had two runs.

McEwen gave up 14 runs on 13 hits in 3 1-3 innings for Kenai, while Avery Ellis gave up seven runs — two earned — on two hits in one inning.

Soldotna 19, Houston 7

It took four innings for the Stars to get out of the first round.

SoHi scored six in the first, nine in the second, three in the third and one in the fourth.

Kiara Forkner led the way at the plate, going 3 for 4 with five RBIs. Also, Tatum Cooper was 2 for 3 with three runs and two RBIs, Isabelle Cruz had three runs, Bella Gares had two runs, Juliet Innes had three runs, Kathryn DeBardelaben had two runs, Kacey Cunningham was 2 for 3 with two runs and three RBIs, and Aliya Blough was 2 for 2 with two runs and two RBIs.

DeBardelaben went all four innings at pitcher for Soldotna, giving up seven runs — two earned — on five hits.

Kodiak 13, Homer 1

The Bears needed four innings to send the Mariners into the consolation bracket.

Kodiak scored eight in the first inning, three in the second inning and twice in the third inning.

Brost had Homer’s lone hit and RBI, while Fraley had the lone run.

Trowbridge gave up 10 runs — five earned — on four hits in an inning, while Niebuhr gave up three runs — two earned — on two hits in two innings.

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