Thunder Mountain Softball Swings for The Fences at Ketchikan

    TMHS' Ashlyn Gates (25), Leah Hetle (12), Aspen Kasper (34), Mariah Tanuvasa Tuvaifale (14) and Jack Lovejoy (8) on Saturday in Ketchikan. (photo courtesy Sharla Hayes)

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Thunder Mountain girls' sunny softball season began, after weather canceled their opening Jamboree tournament at Sitka last week and COVID canceled last season, with a storm at Ketchikan on Friday and Saturday.

      The Falcons softball team lost two conference games on Friday and a non-conference clash on Saturday, all on the Lady Kings’ Dudley Field.

      “Obviously when you have a weekend like that you have to look for the small moments that make the program grow and we had some pretty good highlights,” Thunder Mountain coach Julie Herman said. “The kids came out to bat, Mariah hit a home run and our pitchers did real well shutting an inning down, we are just working on putting pieces together. We had strong moments and we are early in the season so as far as how the outlook goes we are looking up, we are looking to the future. We have things we are working on and are looking forward to home games against JD next weekend.”

      The Falcons had seven players get hits in the first game of the series on Friday but fell 12-4.

      Senior Mariah Tanuvasa Tuvaifale led the way with two hits, including a home run in the top of the third inning and an RBI single in the top of the fifth that brought home classmate Avery Kreischer.

      Tanuvasa Tuvaifale said she was happy to get a point on the board.

      “Just being able to start the season off like that was really good,” she said of the home run shot to right field. “Usually what I do is I try to not focus on hitting it out of the park, mainly just trying to hit the ball and usually I just sing a song in my head or I say ‘you got this.’”

      Kreisher, and juniors Sydney Strong, Aspen Kasper and Tahila Kuma, and freshmen Jenna Dobson and Jack Lovejoy all had one hit; Kreischer, Tanuvasa Tuvaifale, Dobson and Lovejoy scored a run; Kreischer had an RBI double that scored Dobson; and Lovejoy stole home for a run.

      Five girls had three hits in their 12-10 second conference loss on Friday.

      “That was a fantastic run for us,” Herman said. “That game we brought the bats out and decided to play for it all and it was a very close game.”

      Junior Tyler Johnson, Kreischer, Tanuvasa Tuvaifale, Strong and Kasper all collected three hits, sophomore Moana Tuvaifale two, and Lovejoy, freshman Ashlyn Gates and sophomore Leah Helte one each; Kasper had two RBI, Lovejoy, Kreischer, Strong, Gates and Helte one each; Tanuvasa Tuvaifale scored three runs, Kreischer and Strong two apiece, Kasper, Helte and Tuvaifale one each.

      The Falcons' Strong, Helte and Tuvaifale came across the plate in the seventh inning to cut the lead to two, 12-10, but Ketchikan got the game ending third out with runners Kreischer, Lovejoy and Johnson stranded on base.

      “That first game out there we were working through some new players that were learning some new positions and then went back to the drawing board, switched up a few things in the lineup that got us closer in that second game,” Herman said. “Looking back at that score in a game that went two points it is pretty dang even so we feel pretty confident about that one.”

      Herman said the Falcons know they can beat Ketchikan.

      “They are pretty excited to get back to practice and work on some things,” Herman said. “I am sure every coach is telling you the same thing, Jamboree would have been nice to work out some of those kinks before conference games but we are not worried, we are looking forward to continue competing.”

      Herman said Gates, Kreischer and Kasper did well on the mound.

      “I thought our pitchers were able to throw some nice variety at the plate,” she said. “It was good, we are pleased. Obviously pitchers need to be mentally tough up there, take each batter with a new scenario and work through that one and they did very well.”

      The Falcons lost their non-conference game 8-0 on Saturday.

      Herman said the goal in that game was to grow and see a couple different scenarios.

      “Because that is where you get to take different risks, more risks, so I am pretty pleased,” she said. “The game that matters to me the most is the second one where we came back and made them think about us and think twice about what we could bring, so that’s where we want to be. Thats what you want to do in a conference game and show growth. We competed, competed well and it just didn’t quite go in our favor there in that last inning. That inning we got thrown out we had two people on base, we had two tying runs on base. They got that third out after a rally of three or four runs in so we feel strong and know we are. I have a team full of competitors. We don’t quit. We are looking forward to the next phase next weekend.”

      The Falcons softball team will play at the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears on Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 4 and 6:30 p.m. on the Melvin Park Field. Current conference records show JDHS at 2-0, Ketchikan 2-0, TMHS 0-2 and Sitka 0-2.

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