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By SPENCER GLEASON
Daily News Sports Editor
A trip to Tucson, Ariz. is on the line for Gastineau Channel Little League Softball (Juneau) and Abbott O’Rabbit Little League Softball (Anchorage). The two Junior Little League Softball All-Star clubs went head-to-head on Saturday and Sunday in the state tournament. The winner of the best-of-five series will travel to the Southwest for the Regional tournament beginning on July 13. The team crowned regional champion will travel to the Little League Softball World Series later this month.
Abbott O’Rabbit has taken the first two games, winning 11-4 on Saturday and 3-2 on Sunday. Game 3 is scheduled for Monday at 3 p.m. at Dudley Field.
Anchorage’s potent offense has been somewhat quiet since arriving in Ketchikan. The team scored 62 runs throughout three games in order to be crowned Distritct 1 champions. And it provided some of its own fireworks on the Fourth of July by defeating Nunada Valley Little League, 10-4, in the championship game. It beat Diamond West Little League in the first round of its tournament, with team members crossing home plate 32 times. And the team scored 20 runs against Kodiak Little League in the District 1 semifinal.
But since arriving in the Southeast region, Abbott O’Rabbit’s offense has only scored a quarter of those runs, and it barely snuck by with a victory in Game 2.
Its winning run on Sunday came in the fourth inning during a steal of second base. Abbott O’Rabbit’s Sabrina Jolin swiped the bag after being walked and Juneau’s throw to second base allowed Abbott O’Rabbit’s Kendyl Decker to score from third base, breaking a 2-2 tie.
The pitching combination of Juneau’s Gloria Bixby and Peyton Carson held Anchorage’s offense scoreless the rest of the game. But Gastineau Channel’s offense could never get rolling, either.
Juneau did threaten with the bases loaded in the seventh inning. After a leadoff single by Riley Anna Payne, both Mariah Schauwecker and Kaia Smith reached base. But with two outs, Abbott O’Rabbit’s Jolin was able to shut the door.
Juneau also had opportunites early on in Game 2. Anna Dale hit a triple to right field and after Anchorage’s second baseman bobbled the relay throw, Juneau’s third base coach sent Dale home. But Abbott O’Rabbit quickly recovered and Katelyn Wilson’s throw home was right on the money, ending the third inning.
At the time, that would’ve given Juneau a 3-2 lead. But it wasn’t in the cards.
Saturday’s Game 1 matchup was similar to the start of Game 2. Juneau jumped out on top, 1-0, in the first inning. Gastineau Channel’s catcher Sydney Strong smoked a Grace Unger pitch over the centerfield fence for home run.
But Abbott O’Rabbit hopped over the deficit, plating two runs in the second inning. Mackenzie Moore and Savannah Kenney both scored, and Anchorage never looked back.
Gastineau Channel has played seven games in seven days, including two double-headers. It defeated Ketchikan, going the full five games throughout the District 2 series, to claim the District 2 crown. If Juneau wins Monday afternoon against Abbott O’Rabbit, Game 4 will follow shortly afterward. If necessary, Game 5 will be Tuesday at 6 p.m.