• Homer softball opens State play Thursday at 3 p.m. at Anchorage’s Cartee Fields
By Sean Pearson
The Homer Lady Mariners pounded out another four games of softball last week as they begin tweaking things for their appearance at this weekend’s State Tournament in Anchorage.
The Lady M’s opened with a 14-1 Wednesday win over the Skyview Panthers. Senior pitcher Hannah LaRue picked up the win, giving up only one hit, and striking out eight batters. She also helped her cause by hammering the ball at the plate, nabbing two hits and driving in four runs.
Katie Kirsis slugged out two hits and three RBIs for the game, while Maggie Graham added two hits and two RBIs.
The Lady M’s welcomed the Kodiak Bears for doubleheader play on Thursday. Neither team scored in the first inning, but by the end of the fourth, the score was knotted at four. Homer scored three more runs to seal the win, and came away with the 7-5 conference victory.
Hannah LaRue once again picked up the win from the mound, giving up five runs off seven Kodiak hits. She threw 101 pitches, and struck out seven.
LaRue again led the way with the bat as well. She knocked in three runs off a double, and her first home run of the season.
Homer bats fell a bit silent as the Lady M’s dropped their second doubleheader game 3-10 against Kodiak.
Finally, the Lady Mariners blanked the Kenai Kardinals 12-0 on Saturday to win the Northern Lights Conference with a 9-1 record They also earned their 12th berth in 13 years to the state softball tournament.
Hannah LaRue once again got the start, and quickly retired all six batters she faced. Two of those outs were strikeouts. No. 2 pitcher McKi Needham then came in to earn the save, giving up three hits and striking out one.
Miranda Beach continued her recent batting frenzy, finishing 3 for 4 with two runs and four RBIs. Katie Kirsis had two runs, Kyla Pitzman had a double and a run, Hannah LaRue had a double and a run, and McKi Needham had two runs, Kayla Hutt added a double, and picked up an RBI.
Starting tomorrow, the team will travel to Anchorage to begin play in the Alaska State Championships. Since they finished first in their conference, they have a bye and will play the winner of the Hutchison/Ketchikan game at 3 p.m. on Friday.
Coach Bill Bell says he thinks the State Tournament is going to be exciting.
“I see it as coming down to us, Ketchikan and Sitka,” he said of his team’s appearance at State. “We’ve not seen anything of Ketchikan — other than their scores and statistics — but they seemed to go back and forth with Sitka.”
Bell says his team feels comfortable heading into the coming fray, and while he doesn’t expect any of the games to be big blowouts, he does expect some consistent play from his team.
“Hannah, Kayla and Katie remain rock solid in the positions they have had for a couple of years, so I know we can hold our own,” Bell said. “We are working hard on precision and focus this week, and have had great assistance from coaches Jen Liston, Joel Pietsch and MJ Cambridge. With such a tremendous support crew, this should be a good one.”
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