Softball team chalks up strong wins

The Homer softball team earned a split on Saturday, the final day of the Blue and Gold Battle tournament in Anchorage. 

The Mariners split a pair of Friday matchups, besting Colony in a close 9-8 win but falling to reigning large-schools state champion East Anchorage 8-0. Saturday morning, the Mariners beat Bartlett 9-2 before suffering a 6-2 loss to Hutchison.

The Mariners followed up their weekend with a win against SoHi on Tuesday, May 10.

The team will play two nonconference games this weekend, facing Wasilla on Friday and Colony on Saturday.

Homer 15, SoHi 4

The Homer softball team defeated Soldotna 15-4 in five innings Tuesday at the Soldotna Little League fields in a battle of Northern Lights Conference unbeatens.

The Mariners move to 6-5 overall and 3-0 in the league, while SoHi falls to 5-4 overall and 3-1 in the league.

“We knew it would be a pretty close game,” Homer coach Bill Bell said. “We watched (Soldotna) up in Anchorage.

“They have a tight infield and Emily (Jackson) is getting the ball over the plate. They are a well-coached team.”

The Stars actually had a 3-2 lead after two innings before Homer’s bats took over the game. The Mariners ended up with 18 hits to Soldotna’s eight.

“Give credit to Homer,” Soldotna coach Kelli Knoebel said. “They were square on the ball and they have good hitters. That’s what the game is all about.”

Homer faced that 3-2 deficit in the top of the third with the top of its lineup coming to the plate.

Each of the top six hitters in Homer’s lineup had big days, which led to Homer taking a 6-3 lead after 3 1-2 innings and never looking back.

No. 1 hitter Mary Hana Bowe was 4 for 4 with four runs, No. 2 Izabelle Hagge was 2 for 2 with three runs, No. 3 McKi Needham was 3 for 4 with three runs and six RBIs, No. 4 Malina Fellows was 1 for 3 with two runs and two RBIs, No. 5 Isabel Beach was 3 for 4 with five RBIs and No. 6 Riley Walls was 3 for 4.

No. 9 hitter Kyah Doughty also scored a pair of runs.

Bell has been doing a lot of tinkering with positions in nonconference play, but the Mariners showed they can still get down to business in conference play.

“I’m really happy with the team,” Bell said. “I feel like they are jelling together.”

Needham went all five innings on the mound for Homer, giving up eight hits and four earned runs while striking out five and walking none.

Homer 9, Bartlett 2

Four doubles by McKi Needham led the day at the plate for the Mariners. Needham hit her way to second base in the first, second, fourth and fifth innings. Overall, Homer outhit Bartlett 12-5. Mary Hana Bowe went 3 for 3 with three runs and Malina Fellows was 2 for 2.

In the pitching circle, Annali Metz, Izabelle Hagge and Needham combined to give up just two runs on five hits and five strikeouts, while walking just two. Needham herself struck out three and gave up one hit.

The Mariners took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first, then scored one in the second, three in the third, one in the fourth and two in the fifth to round out the scoring.

Homer 6, Hutchison 2

The Mariners ended the Blue and Gold Battle with a loss to the Hawks. Hutchison scored twice in the first inning and held Homer scoreless until the top of the fourth, when Needham stole home plate to cut the gap to 3-1.

However, Hutchison tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the fifth to ice the victory.

Five players each had a hit for Homer, and Needham again led the way with a double, her fifth of the day. Needham also pitched the complete game in five innings, giving up four earned runs on eight hits and zero walks, while striking out five.

East 8, Homer 0

The defending large-school state champions shut out the Mariners in Friday’s early game, scoring two runs in the first inning and continuing with two more in the third and three in the fifth.

Daisy Page controlled the game in the pitching circle for East, giving up just one hit and striking out 11 Homer batters.

McKi Needham pitched well for Homer, going four innings and giving up three earned runs on six hits while issuing zero walks and two strikeouts. However, the Homer defense had five errors.

The Thunderbirds out hit the Mariners 8-1.

Homer’s lone hit came courtesy of Kelly Liebers, who sent a single to right field in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Homer 9, Colony 8