Anchorage, Alaska (KINY) - Senior JoJo Griggs hit a double with the bases loaded, scoring senior Mackenzie Jackson and freshman Chloe Casperson, to give the Juneau-Douglas High School Yadaa.at Kalé Crimson Bears softball team an inning shortened, 16-4, walk-off win over the North Pole Patriots for the 2021 ASAA/First National Bank Alaska State Softball Championship, Saturday, at Anchorage’s Cartee Fields.
“I feel exhilarated,” Griggs said.
Emerging from a mob of teammates, Griggs stated the key to the Crimson Bears success.
“Friendship,” she said. “We all love each other. And having fun. And being the ball, seeing the ball…”
The Crimson Bears were certainly the ball during the state softball championships, going undefeated in five games.
They most definitely were the ball on Saturday as they defeated Southeast region champion Ketchikan 13-12 in a morning semifinal as the heat of the day just started rolling in.
Then they became the ball as North Pole, who polished off Delta Junction 24-21 in the morning and Ketchikan 10-2 after, could do nothing against the Crimson Bears defense.
“It feels great,” Juneau-Douglas coach Lexi Razor said. “The girls played great. It is a lot of fun and very exciting. Our hitting was key. The girls really hit the ball well, played good defense and never gave up.”
Sophomore shortstop Mariah Schauwecker played some of the tournaments top defense and was selected to the All-State Tournament team along with Crimson Bears freshman pitcher Kiah Yadao and third baser Jackson.
In the title game alone Schauwecker raced back to snare a line drive in the outfield, sped across the diamond to catch a foul ball in flight, and helped cover the corners when her teammates charged slow rolling hits.
“Yes sir,” Schauwecker, who also pitches, answered when told that any team can score but defense wins games. “My teammates back me up. I know how good it feels as a pitcher when you see your teammates laying out for balls. It feels really good. I love our teams hard work ethic and nobody gives up.”
Griggs and sophomore Gloria Bixby led the Crimson Bears against North Pole with three RBI apiece, Schauwecker, sophomore Anna Dale, freshman Tristan Oliva, Yadao and Jackson one each.
Oliva had three hits, sophomore Saelyr Hunt and Dale two, Yadao, Bixby and Griggs one each.
Oliva scored four runs, Hunt, Schauwecker, Jackson and Chloe Casperson two each, Dale, Smith, Bixby and sophomore Carlynn Casperson one each.
Yadao stepped up in the tournament, topping the mound through the round robin and play in games and pitching all seven innings against Ketchikan and the final four against North Pole.
Yadao threw 79 pitches against North Pole, allowed just five hits and struck out two Patriots and walked two.
Against Ketchikan she threw 116 pitches and struck out five Kings and walked four in a game that both pitching sides gave up 10 hits.
“I feel amazing,” Yadao said. “It feels great to have a team that I know has my back and is there for me even when I am not doing my best. It feels amazing.”
The heat was as much of an opponent as the opposite dugout.
“It was tough,” Yadao said. “My hands were sticky and I was hot.”
The freshman pitcher said the goal now was another title.
“Win next year,” Yadao said. “We are going to come back even stronger.”
In the semifinal against Ketchikan Yadao had three RBI, Schauwecker and Jackson two apiece, junior Kaia Smith and Oliva one apiece.
Oliva had three hits, Hunt, Schauwecker and Yadao two each, Dale, Smith, and Billings and Chloe Casperson one each.
Hunt and Oliva scored three runs apiece, Dale two, Schauwecker, Smith, sophomore Carlynn Casperson, Billings and Chloe Casperson one run each.
“It was a great season,” Coach Razor said. “I think the girls worked really hard and like Kiah (Yadao) said we are looking to come back again and keep working and just keep improving. It was great coaching with the girls and the coaching staff. It has been an amazing year. They did what they had to do. They were never going to give up. It was great.”
Razor held the championship trophy aloft briefly, until the girls took it away.
“It’s great to bring this home,” Razor said. “We haven’t had one in Juneau in a long time. Probably six years maybe. And they worked hard. They deserve it. I am super proud of them.”
Crimson Bears lead-off hitter Hunt had three stolen bases against North Pole.
“I feel great,” Hunt said. “It was fun. We got on base, we got around, stole a lot of bases and got a lot of runs. I have gotten comfortable leading off now and it feels great to start the team going.”
Championship player of the game selection Dale controlled the Crimson Bears pitching staff and the infield from behind the plate.
“It is definitely a lot of pressure but I like it,” Dale, a catcher, said. “Our defense can make plays so it is comforting to know that. I think we just kept our head in it until the end but we were very happy and very confident. Now we get to have more fun. It is always our goal to have fun.”
Shortly after Griggs’ game ending hit, after championship medals were distributed, the fun continued as the team jumped into each others’ arms and took group selfies with their medals.
Then the tournament announcers played Queen’s “We Are The Champions” over the loud speakers and the Crimson Bears joined right in, probably the first time they were out of sync the whole tournament.
Above - The 2021 State Champion Crimson Bears softball team on Anchorage's Cartee Fields, Saturday.
Above - Freshman Tristan Oliva bunts to reach base against North Pole.
Above - Sophomore Mariah Schauwecker makes a catch in foul territory against North Pole. (A slide show of photos will be available soon)