Kenai Central pitcher Avery Ellis delivers to Soldotna on Thursday, May 18, 2023, at the Soldotna Little League fields in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central pitcher Avery Ellis delivers to Soldotna on Thursday, May 18, 2023, at the Soldotna Little League fields in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Thursday softball: Kenai comes back to defeat SoHi

The Kenai Central softball team came back from an 8-0 deficit after the first inning to defeat Soldotna 16-13 on Thursday in Northern Lights Conference play at the Soldotna Little League fields.

The Kardinals move to 6-4 in the league and 8-10 overall. Kenai has won five of six since losing to the Stars 17-3 on May 8. Soldotna is now 4-4 and 5-9-1.

The Stars came out with seven hits, two walks and a hit batter in the top of the first inning against Kenai starter Avery Ellis. Kenai coach Bob Frates said the Stars are just a team with really good bats and Kenai had to keep fighting.

Kenai also came from behind in beating Homer on Tuesday.

“I think that just shows the heart and the character and the desire of this team,” Frates said. “They just wanted it tonight.”

The Kardinals chipped away at Soldotna pitchers Kiara “KiKi” Forkner, Juliet Innes and Miah Mead, scoring once in the second, once in the third and six times in the fourth to tie it at eight.

“Defensively, we kind of fell apart a little bit,” Soldotna assistant coach Kelsey Booth said. “Our hitting wasn’t terrible, we were just hitting exactly where their players were.

“But I’m just proud. They stuck with it throughout the whole game.”

The Stars grabbed an 11-8 lead after five innings, but Kenai kept coming with six runs in the sixth inning and two runs in the seventh.

Kyana Griskevich came on for Ellis for the final two innings, giving up two unearned runs while walking two and striking out three. Ellis had yielded 11 runs — 10 earned — on 12 hits.

“She pitched extremely well,” Frates said of Ellis. “The only reason I pulled her out is because they run the bases like nobody’s business.

“I wanted some more speed so they wouldn’t run the bases on us.”

Griskevich had control problems Tuesday against Homer, and that’s why the Kardinals had to come back in that game.

“She wanted this more than anything,” Frates said of Griskevich. “We touched base before the game, and she let me know, ‘Coach, I’m ready.’

“And when she says she’s ready, she’s ready.”

Both squads rolled up big offensive numbers in the game.

For Kenai, Kailey Stynsberg was 3 for 6 with two runs and three RBIs, Zoey Riley was 2 for 3 with two runs, Ellis had two runs and two RBIs, Griskevich was 2 for 4, Lola McEwen had two runs and two RBIs, Sarai Bravo-Moe was 2 for 3 with two runs, and Shelby Hemphill was 4 for 4 with two runs and two RBIs.

For SoHi, Mead was 3 for 4 with three runs and three RBIs, Alyssa McDonald was 2 for 3 with three RBIs, Innes had two runs, Lexi Stormo was 3 for 4, Forkner was 2 for 4 with two runs and Bailey Conner was 2 for 3 with two runs.

Kenai Central catcher Maggie Grenier gets ready to tag Soldotna’s Miah Mead to end a rundown Thursday, May 18, 2023, at the Soldotna Little League fields in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central catcher Maggie Grenier gets ready to tag Soldotna’s Miah Mead to end a rundown Thursday, May 18, 2023, at the Soldotna Little League fields in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Miah Mead lines out against Kenai Central on Thursday, May 18, 2023, at the Soldotna Little League fields in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Miah Mead lines out against Kenai Central on Thursday, May 18, 2023, at the Soldotna Little League fields in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

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