The Homer softball team was eliminated from the Division II state tournament in Fairbanks last Friday with a 9-1 loss to North Pole.
The Mariners (18-23 overall) finished tied for fifth at state.
Homer lost both of its games to North Pole in the regular season, but the Mariners topped the Patriots 13-11 in pool play at state last Thursday. That pool play was used to set up the weekend bracket.
North Pole took a 1-0 lead in the first, but Homer tied the game in the second inning. After that, Homer’s bats went silent and the Patriots scored one in the third, two in the fifth and five in the sixth.
Zoe Adkins, pitching her third game of the day, went 5 2-3 innings while giving up nine runs — eight earned — on 12 hits while walking eight and striking out six.
Homer coach Bill Bell said his team ran out of gas. The Mariners had games at noon, 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. on a day where temperatures got into the 80s.
The design of the bracket meant North Pole was playing its second game of the day.
Homer’s season also ended last year with the Mariners playing a third game of the day at state.
“It almost gets to the point where it’s a safety issue,” Bell said. “The kids aren’t hydrating like they need to be because they’re spending all day in the sun.”
Sophie Ellison had two hits for Homer, while Kaylin Anderson, Delilah Harris and Becca Trowbridge had the other hits. Harris had the run, while Alaiyah Brost had the RBI.
The Mariners started the day with a 5-2 victory over Kodiak. Homer had lost its first three games against Kodiak this season, but came back to beat the Bears twice at the Northern Lights Conference tournament and once at state.
“The fact that we beat Kodiak today cemented the fact that we really deserved to win the region championship,” Bell said.
The game was tied at 2 after two innings, but Homer pulled away with two runs in the third and one in the seventh.
Adkins went all seven innings, giving up two runs on five hits while walking four and striking out five. She also had a massive day at the plate, going 3 for 4 with three runs.
Also for Homer, Harris had two RBIs and Trowbridge was 2 for 4.
Homer then fell into the playback bracket with a 17-10 loss to Delta Junction.
The Huskies took control of the game from the outset, scoring 11 runs in the top of the first inning.
The Mariners defensive lapses were costly, with 12 errors leading to Adkins getting charged with 12 unearned runs. The pitcher went all seven innings and also gave up 10 hits while walking 10 and striking out two.
Julie Guess had a great day leading off for Homer, hitting a home run on the way to going 3 for 5 with three runs and four RBIs. Anderson was 3 for 4 with two runs and two RBIs, Harris was 2 for 4 with four RBIs and Ari Davis was 2 for 4 with two runs.
Bell said this team outperformed expectations.
“When we started the season, I had no idea how it would turn out,” he said. “At best, I thought we had a 50-50 chance of getting to state. I wasn’t sure how we would jel. We had a lot of brand-new players that did jel.”
Homer loses seniors Adkins, Harris, Anderson and Ellison. With no juniors on the team, Bell said putting together another state berth next season will be a challenge. Homer has been to state in 21 of the last 22 seasons.