Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Anchorage’s Nunaka Valley are the 2021 Majors Softball State Champions. defeating Juneau 8-2 on Monday night at Melvin Park Field. and winning the best of five series in three straight games.
Nunaka Valley came from up north with a winning tradition and a reputation for playing tough softball and the Juneau players responded well, becoming one of the few teams to score against the powerhouse this season.
“You never give up just because how big they are, how tall they are or how good they play,” Juneau outfielder Taylor Williams said. “In Alaska we did pretty well. A lot of the teams from the Palmer tournament had no runs across the board against Nunaka but we put runs up and did well. This inspires us that we worked our hardest but sometimes the hardest isn’t the best.”
Williams had stellar catches in the outfield during the series. She earned a walk and two stolen bases on Monday.
Teammate Ryann Oliva, one of the smallest on the field, played with one of the biggest hearts in the infield and alongside sister Skylar. Older sister Tristan was a freshman on the JDHS softball team this season.
“We tried hard,” Ryann Oliva said. “We lost but we are still winners though. I still want to play softball. I still want to try and win next year.”
Gwen Nizich and Bella Connally scored the two runs for Juneau.
Nizich pitched a complete game and struck out 8. She also had a single and four stolen bases.
“It is a little disappointing that we lost the three games,” Nizich said. “I did the best I could. I really have no regrets. I think I pitched a heck of a game. I’m proud of what my team did. I left it all out there. They are a good team. We could see them again potentially. It was just nice to play them and get the experience.”
Peyton Wheeler played multiple positions through the series. She had a single and a stolen base on Monday.
“It’s really disappointing but I think we did a really good job as a team as a whole,” Wheeler said. “Next year we can come back and we can win.”
Connaly walked and stole two bases. Riley Morehouse had a walk and stolen base. Cassie Chenoweth had a stolen base. Lily Hayes earned a walk. Riley Mulkey, Skylar Oliva, Kiera Payne, Alexa Scarano and Brynn Wheeler played well in the team series effort.
Nunaka Valley team captain Ori Samuelu-Pedro went the distance on the mound and struck out 11.
“I’m so happy because I have been waiting for this for a long time,” Samuelu-Pedro said. “This is my first time traveling for softball. I am just so happy I got to travel with this team.”
Sabrina Mason, Samuelu-Pedro and Ave Ropati scored 2 runs each for Nunaka.
Addison Anderson and Isa Faumuina scored one run apiece.
“It was really fun,” Anderson said. “It was a really good battle back and forth and I am really excited to go to California with this team especially.”
Mason had two singles, a double and two stolen bases. Samuelu-Pedro a double, single and two stolen bases. Anderson had a double. Ropati had two singles, a triple and five stolen bases.
“I thought it was really exciting,” Ropati said. “It was a big adrenaline rush. I was really nervous in the end. I am so proud of our team.”
Trinity Damrill had a single and a stolen base and Saniyah Faumuina earned one walk.
“I’m really excited,” Faumuina said. “It is new for me. I get to, like, travel playing a sport. It is fun and nice getting to know these guys, especially for my first time.”
Amariah Loia reached base once, Luisa Faumuina walked and stole a base, and Chaunti McMorris, Ryann Saupe, Kaylee Serradell-Smith and Julia McDonald made plate appearances.
Nunaka Valley will represent Alaska at the Regional tournament in San Bernardino, California beginning Saturday.
Gastineau Channel represented Southeast with great skill and sportsmanship.
On the back of the GCLL dugout were affirmation posters that members of local high school teams made for the players.
They read as follows:
Cassie Chenoweth #11 - Awesome at throw downs. You’re a good catcher. Always have your head in the game. Very coachable and good sportsmanship.
Bella Connally #10 - You have amazing reflexes. Very knowledgeable catcher. Very kind and positive. You are a really good catcher. You can run super fast. You are super athletic.
Lily Hayes #6 - You are good at bunting. Good hitter. Good at being aggressive. In it to win it and works hard. Good attitude.
Riley Morehouse #12 - Good uplifting spirit. Open minded and adapts well to changes. Good at playing second base. You are fast.
Rylie Mulkey #14 - Pushes through things even when they get hard. Very coachable Never gives up Good at fielding.
Gwen Nizich #8 - You are really fast. Very accurate at pitching. Really good at batting (power hitter). Good at pitching.
Ryann Oliva #3 - Good attitude. Very uplifting. Strong. Good second baseman.
Skylar Oliva #4 - Amazing batter. Determined and really fast. Home run hitter. Good teammate.
Keira Payne #16 - Amazing third baseman. Very positive and uplifting. Good at fielding. Good hitter.
Alexa Scarano #7 - Good at staying focused. Very encouraging to others. Great at playing left field.
Brynn Wheeler #9 - Great attitude. Good at playing right field. Uplifting.
Peyton Wheeler #5 - Good at playing any position. Good at sticking with things even if it is tough. Good attitude.
Taylor Williams #12 - Good at playing outfield. Very athletic and enthusiastic. Great speed when pitching.