A pair of games; a pair of W’s — and the Ketchikan High School Lady Kings picked up right where they left off — two years ago.
The Lady Kings haven’t played a softball game at Dudley Field since 2019, as the 2020 season was canceled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
But the Lady Kings didn’t seem to miss a beat in their first day back at their home field.
Kayhi opened the season with a doubleheader against the Thunder Mountain High School Lady Falcons on Friday, winning the first game 12-4, and the second game 12-10.
“The first game, we were pleasantly surprised to see how well the girls played,” Kayhi head coach Kalea Allen said. “Not playing for two years, we weren’t sure what we would see. But practices are paying off.
“They hit really, really well, and the defense was pretty solid for the most part. So we were impressed with what we saw.”
The front end of the twin bill was called due to the run differential after five innings, while the nightcap turned into a see-saw battle.
After a long day under the blue skies and sunshine — albeit a welcomed change from the rain and snow of not even a month ago — both teams were starting to feel the full day of action.
“They were starting to get tired,” Allen said. “The sun was draining them a little bit, so we knew that we had to bring the energy — and find a way to (keep it up). ... In that second game, we battled. We were behind a couple times, but never quit.”
Thunder Mountain jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning of the second game. A throwing error allowed two Lady Falcons to score.
But Kayhi starting pitcher Kelleigh Nickich wasn’t rattled, as she kept the Lady Falcons’ within reach of the Lady Kings’ offense.
“She did great,” Allen said. “She is one that hasn’t had a whole lot of varsity time, if any. She was a JV pitcher (in 2019), and now she’s a junior. So we worked a lot the last two offseasons. She’s one who’s always wanting to put in the extra work, and always wanting to get better.
“She’s one of our more accurate pitchers,” Allen continued. “So it was nice to see her make her defense work. We always know that if she’s on the mound, than our defense just has to play their game, and we’ll be good to go.”
The Lady Kings’ Rylie Welk started the bottom half of the first with an infield single, and eventually scored, cutting Thunder Mountain’s lead in half. And from there, the back-and-forth battle began.
It remained 2-1 until the top of the third inning. Thunder Mountain’s Avery Kreischer and Mariah Tanuvasa-Tuvaifale both scored, stretch the Lady Falcons’ lead, 4-1.
But again, the Lady Kings chipped away. Nickich hit a one-out single, and came around to score on a base hit by Maggie Boehlert, making it 4-2.
Kayhi stranded the bases loaded in the first two innings, but stayed consistent with finding a way to get runners on base.
“We knew that we just needed to keep hitting strong, hitting hard, and that those balls would fall,” Allen said. “And we’d be able to bring them home.”
The Lady Kings did just that in the both the fourth and fifth innings, as they batted around their lineup in the both frames, taking a 6-4 lead in their share of the fourth, and reclaiming the lead, 11-7, in the fifth inning.
Paige Boehlert, Dyllan Borer, Shaelyn Mendoza and Welk all scored in the fourth frame.
Mendoza, Borer, Nickich, Maggie Boehlert and Nyah Edenshaw all scored in the fifth inning.
“We were doing a really good job of getting runners on, but we weren’t executing getting them home,” Allen said. “So we were getting runners to third in just about every inning, but we weren’t finding ways to get them home.
“And then, finally, we got those rallies going,” she continued. “... It just shows that our batters are going up there trying to do a job — either move those runners (over), or get on base. Whatever the duty calls for. And they’re always trying to do better than their last at-bat.”
Pahang returns to the mound
Kayhi sophomore Kenzie Pahang pitched the final two innings for the Lady Kings.
After suffering a knee injury, a couple years ago, Pahang was able to have a full recovery, before returning to the softball field Friday night.
“Not having a season last year, probably helped her in the long run,” Allen said. “Because she was able to rehab her knee a little bit more. So that was her first outing for Kayhi — as not only a pitcher, but coming back from a knee injury. So it was really good (to see).
The Lady Kings and Lady Falcons will go head-to-head at noon on Saturday in a non-conference matchup.