Kenai Central first baseman Izzie Katzenberger shovels to second baseman Shelby Hemphill for an out against Houston on Thursday, May 11, 2023, at the Steve Shearer Memorial Ball Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Thursday softball: Kenai sweeps Houston, Homer drops 2 at home

The Kenai Central softball team swept a Northern Lights Conference doubleheader from Houston on Thursday at Steve Shearer Memorial Ball Park in Kenai.

The Kardinals won the first game 16-0 in three innings, then took the second game 16-1 in three innings. The Kards have now won three straight and are 4-4 in the league and 6-9 overall.

Hawks head coach Brian Mitchell said his team is young, inexperienced and still has not won a game this season.

“They’re young, for sure, but it was a good two games,” Kenai head coach Bob Frates said. “We were able to get some of our players in and get them some time.

“And you know, we’ve got some young players, too, and they just pulled it together today.”

Frates was really happy with the pitching in both games. Lola McEwen worked three scoreless innings in the first game, giving up two hits while walking two and striking out five.

Kyana Griskevich gave up a run in three innings in the second game. Griskevich did not give up a hit and walked three while striking out six.

“That’s going to be the key for us going forward here,” Frates said of solid pitching. “I wanted to get a couple of pitchers as much time as possible.

“The season is so short. So the more time they can spend on the mound, the better.”

Frates said hitting also has been key in the three-game winning streak.

In the first game, Kailey Stynsberg was 2 for 3 with two runs, Maggie Grenier was 2 for 3 with three RBIs, Zoey Riley was 2 for 3 with two runs, Avery Ellis had two runs, Griskevich was 2 for 3 with three runs and two RBIs, McEwen was 2 for 3 with two runs and two RBIs, and Shelby Hemphill had two runs.

In the second game, Stynsberg had two runs, Ellis had two runs, Griskevich was 2 for 2 with two RBIs, Kaitlyn Taylor had three runs, Seylor Tomrdle had two runs, Isabel Thomas had three runs, and Hemphill had two RBIs.

Frates also said it was nice to see Sarai Bravo-Moe get a hit in the first game. Frates said Bravo-Moe is a first-year player who has been struggling with her hitting.

Mitchell said only two players on his team played varsity last season. Everybody else played junior varsity last season, or is playing softball for the first time. Houston also has only one senior on the squad.

“All of them, when their game IQ comes up, they’re going to be pretty good,” he said. “We’ll compete. That’s the goal.

“Our goal right now is just to get better.”

Mitchell said he is seeing a lot of progress, notably in a 16-7 loss at Homer on Wednesday, but the losing is still hard because so many on the team are competitors.

“I’m trying to tell them that the win is not the W in the W column,” Mitchell said. “It’s getting better and learning the game.”

Mitchell gave particular credit to Thursday’s pitchers, Morgan Chace and Tru Davis. He said both are learning to pitch.

“They try it and do the best they can with the experience they have,” Mitchell said. “And they’re both competitors. And they hate not to be successful.

“But I tell them success is putting the ball in play and letting the fielders do their job.”

Homer drops 2 games

The host Homer softball team dropped a pair of games Thursday. The Mariners lost 16-1 in three innings in Northern Lights Conference play to Kodiak, then lost 23-17 to Wasilla in nonconference play. The Mariners are now 3-2 in the league and 3-12 overall.

The Bears scored 12 runs in the top of the first inning to take command of that game. Ariana Davis had the run for Homer, which did not record a hit.

Against Wasilla, Homer led 8-0 after two innings, but the Warriors struck for 10 runs in the top of the third. The Mariners then led 17-10 after the fifth inning, but Wasilla struck for another big inning by scoring 12 runs in the sixth to take command of the game.

Davis was 4 for 4 with four runs and two RBIs, while Julie Guess was 2 for 4 with four RBIs, Emily Owens was 2 for 5, Alaiyah Brost was 2 for 4 with three runs, Charlotte Fraley was 2 for 4 with two runs and two RBIs, Katelyn Cowdrey was 3 for 5 with two runs and three RBIs, and Keagan Niebuhr was 2 for 4.

The Mariners were hurt by eight errors in the game.

Kenai Central pitcher Kyana Griskevich delivers to Houston on Thursday, May 11, 2023, at the Steve Shearer Memorial Ball Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Houston's Morgan Chace delivers to Kenai Central on Thursday, May 11, 2023, at the Steve Shearer Memorial Ball Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

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