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Chugiak pumps the brakes on East in 10-4 rout, advances to CIC championship game

by | May 25, 2024 | Cover Story, Softball

Chugiak’s Megan Traxinger takes a cut. Photo by Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report

The reigning D1 softball state champion Chugiak Mustangs showed they’re not to be messed with as they delivered a 10-4 rout of the East Thunderbirds Friday night in the Cook Inlet Conference Tournament at the Albrecht Fields.

Senior Megan Traxinger led the Mustangs at the plate, tallying three RBIs, two hits and one walk. She got the score rolling quickly in the first inning by grounding a double to right field that sent McCormick home.

Traxinger and McCormick combined again in the third, both hitting hard grounders that found the sweet spot between shortstop and third base. McCormick’s hit sent junior Yanessa Rodriguez home to earn an RBI before Traxinger drove her in.

Freshman pitcher Torri Jolin delivered an outstanding performance in the circle, facing 30 batters and allowing just five hits. She struck out nine and walked three, and also delivered at the plate, with two RBIs.

Chugiak players showed impressive patience at the plate through the entire game, with multiple players racking up 6-, 7- ,or 8-pitch at-bats. Rodriguez walked on an 8-pitch at-bat in the third inning and sophomore Avery Casey walked in the fourth after seeing 7 pitches, to name a few.

The 13-3 Mustangs have the distinction of being the only team to take down the 20-2 T-birds this season, having already defeated them 4-3 in regular season play earlier this month.

Having that win under their belts didn’t overinflate the Mustangs’ confidence, said Jolin after the game.

“Knowing that we beat them before definitely helps, but it doesn’t matter if we’ve lost to the team every single time or if we’ve beat them every time, (we’re) always gonna come in with the same attitude, like, ‘I could lose, I need to play my best,’” she said.

The fourth inning blew open the game for Chugiak, who racked up four more runs and prompted an East pitching change from senior Isabella Lyons to sophomore Sela Rodriguez. Rodriguez came in and promptly threw three straight strikes to the first batter she faced – true to form, given she’s thrown 123 Ks this year.

East’s Sela Rodriguez. Photo by Signal Stone

Rodriguez delivered eight strikeouts, five walks, allowed one hit and three runs in 3.2 innings pitched. Lyons, who pitched 3.1 innings, allowed seven hits, seven runs, walked just two and struck out one.

East senior Mamie Sanford stepped up for her team when she hit an inside-the-park home run in the fourth inning, getting the T-birds on the board.

“I think as a senior, it’s my job to get it going,” she said. “Honestly, that’s all I was thinking. I seen where they were playing me in the field and there was a gap, so you know, I just seen the gap and hit it there.”

The fifth and sixth innings saw three-up, three-down for both teams, with no hits allowed by either side. Rodriguez struck out six batters in a row and Jolin struck out three.

But with two stacked lineups, it was only a matter of time before the bats started flying again – and Chugiak drove in two more runs in the seventh inning to complete their 10-run night. East capped off the top of the seventh with freshman right-fielder Aulelei Wong sniping a shallow fly to secure the third out. Once they were up to bat, East loaded the bases – and Wong produced a fielder’s choice grounder to second base that sent the first of three last-minute runs home.

“I think that’s really what started the rally,” Sanford said, referring to Wong’s catch.

The Mustangs now advance to Saturday’s CIC championship game at 1:30 p.m., where they’ll take on either East or the South Anchorage Wolverines, depending on which team makes it out of tomorrow’s 11:30 a.m. elimination game.

“They’re both two good teams, they’re going to bring that energy, bring that intensity,” said sophomore Brooklyn McCormick after the game, who noted Chugiak will have a target on its back having seen no losses in the tournament. “So they’re coming for us twice, but we just need to get a good night’s sleep, recover…be locked in in the morning.”

“We’ve just got to play our game and we can beat any team. We’ve just got to focus and reduce the errors and hit like we know we can,” added Jolin.

Chugiak 1 0 2 5 0 0 2 – 10 8 1
East 0 0 0 1 0 0 3 – 4 5 1
Chugiak – Jolin and B. McCormick. East – Lyons, Rodriguez (4) and V. Wakefield. W – Jolin. L – Rodriguez. 2B: McCormick (C), Sjostrand (C), Traxinger (C). 3B – None. HR: Sanford (E).

South’s Millie Wurst had a big day Friday. Photo by Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report

South Anchorage 10, Dimond 4

Three home runs were the charm for the South Anchorage Wolverines on Friday, as they soundly defeated the Dimond Lynx 10-4 to stay in contention for the Cook Inlet Conference tournament title.

Pitcher Millie Wurst smashed two of the three homers herself when she wasn’t issuing 14 strikeouts to Dimond batters, allowing just six hits and walking three. She earned 3 RBIs in her time at the plate.

Sienna Robinson contributed the third home run, a left field fly that drove in Carley Strempler. Robinson (2), Strempler (1), Savannah Jordan (1), Catie Newall (1) and Jioni Walker (1) also earned RBIs for the Wolverines.

Dimond pitcher Alaina Reynolds threw 58 strikes out of 82 pitches, striking out two, walking one, allowing 13 hits and 10 runs.

C Severson, R Whetten, and Reynolds all earned RBIs for the Lynx.

South Anchorage will face off with East at 11:30 a.m. today to determine which team will play Chugiak in the 1:30 p.m. championship game, with a potential if-necessary game following at 4:00 p.m.

Dimond 0 2 1 0 0 0 1 – 4 6 3
South 2 0 4 2 2 0 X – 10 13 0
Dimond – Reynolds. South – Wurst. W – Wurst. L – Reynolds. 2B: S Jordan (S) 2, C Newall (S), E Kleven (S), Reynolds (D). 3B: None. HR: Wurst (S) 2, Robinson (S).

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