Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Juneau’s Gastineau Channel Little League and Anchorage’s Nunaka Valley Little League 10-12 year old softball all-stars began their Alaska Majors Division State Tournament best-of-five series on Saturday at Melvin Park Field with Nunaka Valley earning a 12-6 win.
Gwen Nizich pitched the complete game for Juneau, allowing seven hits, striking out 11 and walking seven.
“I think I was a little flustered in the first part because we hadn’t played them before,” Nizich said. “They are a good team but I think we can really come back tomorrow, because we know what they play like, and do better. We came back. We had some errors that could have turned it into a tie ball game, but I think we came back pretty good.”
Nunaka Valley scored two runs in the first inning. Diana Samuelu-Pedora hit a single that scored Sabrina Mason, and Samuelu-Pedora scored on a passed ball.
Juneau scored one run in the top of the second inning as Lily Hayes earned a walk, stole two bases and scored on a passed ball.
Nunaka Valley put six runs across in the bottom of the second inning. Singles by Chaunti McMorris and Mason and a walk to Samuelu-Pedora loaded the bases. McMorris stole home for a 4-1 lead. Addison Anderson tripled to score Mason and Samuelu-Pedora for a 6-1 advantage. Saniyah Faumuina walked and Anderson scored on a passed ball for 7-1. Amariah Loia singled in Faumuina for 8-1.
Nunaka Valley added a run in the bottom of the fourth as Aveolela Ropati walked and stole second and third base before scoring on a passed ball for a 9-1 lead.
Juneau made a rally in the top of the fifth inning as Bella Connally reached base on a dropped third strike and stole second and third. Connally would finish with five stolen bases in the game.
“To run as fast as you can and just try and make it there,” Connally said of her stealing style. “It was fun to go against people I haven’t gone against and just play hard.”
Riley Morehouse walked to join Connally on the bases and Skylar Oliva singled them both home.
“That made me feel good to get those two RBI in,” Oliva said. “And that I can hit off the other pitchers. We came back.”
Oliva had two singles and three RBI in the game and commented about not playing for over a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It feels good,” Oliva said. “It feels good coming back after a year of not playing and getting into it.”
Nizich singled next and Oliva scored on a passed ball. Peyton Wheeler earned a walk and Keira Payne hit a single scoring Nizich and Wheeler to get Juneau within three at 9-6.
Nunaka Valley got the runs back in the bottom of the fifth with back-to-back in the park scoring hits by Sabrina Mason, who ran the bases after a single was mishandled, and Samuelu-Pedroa, who ran around the bags after her fly ball was mishandled. Anderson followed with a double and Ropati hit a single for the 12-6 advantage.
Samuelu-Pedroa started for Nunaka Valley and went into the fifth inning, earning 9 strikeouts and walking eight, and giving up five hits.
Anderson pitched the last part of the fifth inning for Nunaka Valley and closed out the game in the sixth, earning five strikeouts and allowing one hit for her mound appearance.
“It was very stressful on me because I was closing but I really love to do it,” Anderson said. “And it was really fun. It’s a really fun game between us. It’s a really good battle. I really like it.”
Anderson added a comment to the Juneau players.
“You guys are really good at hitting and this is so fun to play with you guys,” she said.
Game two is Sunday at 2 p.m., game three Monday at 6 p.m. and games four and five will follow on Tuesday and Wednesday if needed.