Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Juneau-Douglas and Thunder Mountain High School softball teams are ready for action, but their season opening tournament in Sitka was cancelled Thursday due to weather.
Neither team could fly out of Juneau, while Ketchikan had to overhead on to Anchorage and then back home.
The Sitka tournament, which was scheduled for Friday and Saturday, was to be “pool play” format. In a pool play tournament, each day would only count as one game towards a team’s 22-match game limit. That meant JDHS, TMHS, Ketchikan and Sitka each could have played three 65-minute time limit games a day.
JDHS coach Alexandra Razor had said her team was excited about the Sitka trip because in those six games they could have put the girls into a lot of different positions, “to see what is a good fit and what works for us the best.”
TMHS coach Julie Herman said she wanted to just get the team on a field “to see what we are made of, see what we are capable of and what we can bring back to the drawing board.”
Both JDHS and TMHS are young squads, with three seniors in each program.
“While we have a large sophomore class, their season was cancelled before COVID so they truly have not played for JD yet,” Razor said. “So we are looking forward to the season, to getting back on the field and see how the girls play together and how they have improved since the two years they were on the field.”
The JDHS seniors are catcher/outfielder Julianne Soriano, outfielder Anna Wu and Mackenzie Jackson who will play first base, third base and outfield.
Razor said Jackson is a four-year varsity player who brings heart and effort to every position.
Wu and Soriano did not play softball until freshman year. “They are great leaders and show what hard work and effort can do because now they have made varsity and they are great players,” Razor said.
TMHS seniors are shortstop/second baseman Mariah Tanuvasa-Tuvaifale, pitcher/third baseman Avery Kriesher and outfielder/second baseman Emma Rice.
Falcons coach Herman said Tanuvasa-Tuvaifale “runs the infield very well at shortstop, is quick on her feet and is a fun player to watch at the crack of the bat when she does her thing out there.”
Kriesher is a transfer from Kodiak who hasn’t played softball in the Southeast Conference yet. Kriesher is a tri-sport athlete who was recently accepted into the Air Force Academy.
Rice will bring speed and confidence to the outfield.
TMHS has five juniors and four freshmen.
“We are fortunate with a dynamite freshmen class that were brought up in Juneau softball,” Herman said. “They have a huge extensive background in our Midnight Suns and All-Star programs so they do fit into the Thunder Mountain program well. Of course, there will be a learning curve for everyone as we mold and blend together, but I can already tell they are fully accepted into the team and earned their respect by showcasing their skill.”
Herman noted freshmen Ashlyn Gates (second base), Jack Lovejoy (left field) and Kara Strong (third base) have earned starting positions in the opening game.
Herman said she hopes fans see a defensive team that plays aggressively.
“I think defense has the ability to win games,” she said. “I think we have a pretty clever offensive team as well. You should be able to see some good base running. I think what makes it fun to watch for fans is that high level of effort and competition.”
JDHS has 11 underclassmen, including seven sophomores and four freshmen.
“We are excited about the young group though because they have a lot of game ball experience with club teams and Little League,” Razor said. “But we are looking for our senior leaders and junior Kaia Smith to lead them on the field in high school competition, which is very different.”
The Crimson Bears have a deep pitching staff that includes sophomores Mariah Schauwecker, Gloria Bixby and Peyton Carson and freshmen Kiah Yadao and Mila Hargrave.
“We have five consistent pitchers so we are looking forward to having the ability to switch that up when we need to,” Razor said. “We also have players that can play any position so having that flexibility to put them where we need them to go is great for us.”
Both coaches said they wanted to thank the community, school district superintendent, athletic directors and coaching staffs for getting a softball season this year.
“It has been a lot of struggles,” Herman said. “A lot of communication, just a lot of will to get the kids out on the field in all sports. So we are just grateful to all parties who made this happen.”
ROSTERS (name, number, class, position)
Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears: Julianne Soriano, 7, SR, C/OF; Anna Wu, 14, SR, OF; Mackenzie Jackson, 22, SR, 1B/3B/OF; Kaia Smith 23, JR, U; Mariah Schauwecker, 26, SO, P/U; Zoey Billings, number 1, SO, OF; Saelyr Hunt, 2, SO, SS/3B; Carlynn Casperson, 3, SO, 2B/OF; Gloria Bixby, 4, SO, U/P; Peyton Carson, 9, SO, P/1B; Anna Dale, 10, SO, C/U; Kiah Yadao, 6, FR, P/U; Mila Hargrave, 8, FR, P/1B; Chloe Casperson, 11, FR, 2B/OF; Tristan Oliva, 27, FR, C/3B/OF.
The JDHS coaching staff includes Razor and assistant coaches Chuck Gordon, Annie Kincheloe, Nicole Adair, Robert Casperson and Quincy Bates.
Thunder Mountain Falcons: Mariah Tanuvasa-Tuvaifale, 14, SR, SS/2B; Emma Rice 22, SR, RF/LF/2B; Avery Kriesher, 16, SR, P/3B; Aspen Kasper, 34, JR, 1B/P; Sydney Strong, 9, JR, C; Tahila Kuma, 26, JR, 1B/P; Tyler Johnson, 1, JR, C/LF/RF; Delanny Mason, 4, JR, CF/RF; Jack Lovejoy, 24, FR, 3B/LF/2B; Ashlyn Gates, 25, FR, 3B/2B; Kara Strong, 33, FR, C/3B; Jenna Dobson, 6, FR, CF/2B/C.
The TMHS coaching staff includes Herman and assistant coaches Brian Dallas, Taylor Beardslee, Hannah Ingerson, Jessica Lisa, Stephanie Heard, Sharla Hayes and Barb Strong.