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By SPENCER GLEASON
Daily News Sports Editor
The Ketchikan Major Little League All-Stars won the district semifinal softball game in dramatic fashion against Sitka Major Little League All-Stars on Monday evening.
After defeating Sitka, 16-1, in round-robin play over the weekend, Ketchikan needed every run they could scrape across the board during the two teams’ second meeting.
Up 11-6 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning at Melvin Park in Juneau, Ketchikan narrowly let the lead slip away, as Sitka scored four runs in the frame. But Ketchikan shut the door to any more, ultimately winning the game, 11-10. The victory bumps Ketchikan into the tournament’s district championship against Juneau on Tuesday.
Ketchikan played the capital city’s team in round-robin play on Friday. The two squads remained knotted at four apiece after six innings and needed extra frames to determine a winner. Juneau scored three runs in the top half of the seventh inning and shut down Ketchikan in the bottom half, winning 7-4 over the hometown team.
After round-robin play, Juneau received the No. 1 seed and an automatic bid for the district title. Ketchikan was awarded the No. 2 seed and Sitka received the No. 3 seed.
Mackenzie Pahang led the way for Ketchikan in its matchup against Juneau on Friday, reaching base three times and scoring twice. Vienna Pahang and Marley Lewis scored the other two runs in against Juneau.
The trio — and then some — continued to do damage against Sitka on Monday. Mackenzie Pahang tallied three hits, as did Taylor Jackson. Lewis, Vienna Pahang and Chloe Vierra-Sonnenschein all had a pair of base knocks, too.
Annie Paxton, Jackson and Vienna Pahang each had two RBIs.
And Mackenzie Pahang led all pitchers on Monday with nine strikeouts through five innings.
Ketchikan and Juneau will lock up once more on Tuesday for the district title.
Abbott O’Rabbit wins state
After two and a half frames of scoreless softball Monday at Dudley Field in Game 3 of the Junior Little League state tournament, Abbott O’Rabbit Little League (Anchorage) began piling on runs against Gastineau Channel Little League (Juneau) in the bottom of the third inning.
They sent 11 players to the plate, tallied seven runs and never looked back, en route to their 12-0 state championship win. The victory sends Abbott O’Rabbit to Tucson, Arizona for the Regional Tournament. The regional winner will head to the Little League Softball World Series.
“The girls had a hard time hitting in the tournament,” Abbott O’Rabbit head coach Mike Jolin said. “But they came alive when we needed it today. So we’re pretty pumped.”
Anchorage’s Emily McCutcheon drove in the first two runs on a base hit to center field, as part of a string of nine straight Abbott O’Rabbit hitters reaching base. Jenna Lambert and Lauren Parsons both scored on McCutcheon’s single. And McCutcheon and Clara Unger would both score on a single up the middle by Mackenzie Moore.
“This is the same group we won state, here, two years ago with most of these girls,” Jolin said. “So we’ve been building and building since these kids didn’t have front teeth, when they were playing minor softball. It’s no coincidence. It’s all hard work and the kids have grinded out the work.”
On the flipside, the game ended Juneau’s season. But Gastineau Channel head coach Barb Strong said she couldn’t more proud of her team.
“They’re amazing,” she said. “And we’re so proud of them. I love them, truly. I love them like they were my own, for sure. It’s been great. We’ve been on the road for 12 days. So everyone is a little homesick; everyone misses their family. But the girls have really held together and supported each other. So they’re family, through and through.”