The Kenai Central softball team went 0-2 in round-robin play Thursday at the Division II state softball tournament at Cartee Fields in Anchorage.
The Thursday round-robin play is used to seed the bracket for Friday and Saturday. Kenai (11-14) opens play in the double-elimination bracket Friday against Juneau-Douglas Yadaa.at Kale at 12:15 p.m.
Kenai lost to Sitka 20-8 and lost to Delta 13-0. Also in pool play, Delta topped Sitka 9-1, Juneau defeated Kodiak 9-1, North Pole defeated Kodiak 22-4 and North Pole defeated Juneau 5-3.
This is the first time the Kardinals have been at the state tournament. A sign of the level of play at state comes from the fact Kodiak went 0-2 Thursday. The Bears did not lose a game in the Northern Lights Conference all season.
“It’s good for the program and good for the girls to see this level of play,” Kenai head coach Bob Frates said. “The one thing I told them before the game is to embrace this moment.
“Take it all in from the field, to the opponent, to your teammates, to the fans. Soak it all up because not every team has this privilege. They did that. They stayed super enthusiastic the whole time.”
Frates said he has a young team so going to state will be really beneficial to the future of the program.
Sitka 20, Kenai 8, 5 inn.
The Kardinals had the game tied at 8 after four innings before Sitka erupted for 12 runs in the top of the fifth.
“Lots of exciting things happened in that game,” Frates said. “I don’t think we committed any errors and we had 15 hits. The score wasn’t indicative of the game.”
Frates said the team had several ESPN highlight plays on defense.
Kenai had a 2-1 lead after the first inning, but trailed 6-5 after two. The Kards then led 8-7 after three before Sitka tied it in the top of the fourth.
The big offensive highlight for Kenai was Shelby Hemphill, who finished 2 for 3 with two runs and two RBIs, blasting a home run to center field.
Kailey Stynsberg finished 4 for 4 with three runs and a triple for Kenai, while Maggie Grenier was 3 for 4 with three RBIs, and Kyana Griskevich was 2 for 3.
Griskevich was able to keep Sitka’s offense under control until the fifth. She ended up yielding 19 runs on 10 hits in 4 2-3 innings, while Lola McEwen gave up a run on two hits in getting the final out.
Delta 13, Kenai 0, 4 innings
Frates said the Kardinals got off to a slow start and were not able to recover.
The Huskies took a 5-0 lead after the first inning, then scored six times in the third inning and two times in the fourth inning.
McEwen gave up the eight runs, though only one was earned. The Kards had two hits on offense, coming from Stynsberg and Avery Ellis.