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Timely hits, double plays and steady pitching help Chugiak clinch CIC softball title

by | May 25, 2024 | Cover Story, Softball

CIC Tournament champion Chugiak Mustangs. Photo by Chanda File/Alaska Sports Report

A pair of timely hits helped secure the Cook Inlet Conference softball title for the Chugiak Mustangs in a 5-1 victory over the South Anchorage Wolverines on Saturday afternoon.

Combine the hits with freshman pitcher Torri Jolin’s steady presence in the circle and two double plays where sophomore catcher and player of the game Brooklyn McCormick caught runners at home plate, and the Mustangs were well on their way to lifting the trophy at the Albrecht Fields.

The first opportune hit came from junior captain Yanessa Rodriguez in the second inning. With the bases loaded and just one out, she sent a hard grounder up the middle, driving in River Scott and Avery Casey. Rodriguez was thrown out while advancing to second, but that didn’t matter to her.

“As long as I get those girls around those bases, I did my job, and I feel proud of that,” she said, embodying a true captain’s mindset. “That’s the most important thing about this game because you can’t think about yourself, you always have to think about everyone else.”

After Casey scored again in the fourth on an error, sophomore Shelby Strange singled with her own grounder to center field that brought in Abigail Lanehart and Rodriguez, increasing the Mustangs’ lead to 5-1.

“We feel very blessed to be here,” said Rodriguez, adding that her second-ranked team expected to see top-ranked East in the title game. “It’s crazy that South came out and they really competed against us, and we really congratulate them.”

CIC All-Tournament Team
Sela Rodriguez, East
Rachel Whetten, Dimond
Abigail Ellis, South
Aaliyah Villafuerte, East
Savannah Cleland, South
Millicent Wurst, South
McKinley Fuller, Service
Isabel Sjostrand, Chugiak
Megan Traxinger, Chugiak
Torri Jolin, Chugiak
Yanessa Rodriguez, Chugiak

The Mustangs sailed through the CIC Tournament undefeated, besting Bartlett, South and East. South defeated East 6-3 earlier on Saturday, completing its ascension through the loser’s bracket and earning a spot in the championship game.

Leadoff lefty slapper Abigail Ellis was the sole runner to make it home for the Wolverines. Ellis, South’s player of the game, was smart on base – stealing second, advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt and making it home on a passed ball.

“This is my first year doing leadoff for South,” she said. “One thing I’ve kind of learned is just whether it’s with a hit, a walk, or whatever it is, just get on base and then really just try to take advantage of any of their errors.”

Taking advantage of errors was necessary in a game where Chugiak pitcher Jolin struck out 10 of the 26 batters she faced, giving up just four hits and two walks. She sealed the championship for her team by delivering all three outs in the seventh inning, a caught fly ball followed by two strikeouts.

“I felt like my pitches were working well today,” said Jolin. “Especially when you’re playing these tough teams, you know you can’t mess up. If you leave something fat, they’re going to hit it.”

In the circle for South, Millie Wurst struck out seven, walked three and delivered 73 strikes in 121 pitches. She led South’s offense with two hits, a fly to deep center field for a double and a grounder up the middle for a single. Catie Newall and Ellie Kleven each contributed a double for the Wolverines.

Next week brings the state softball tournament in Fairbanks, and both teams look forward to facing off once again with their CIC counterparts in the Interior.

“I’m excited to see East again,” McCormick said. “I think that they are definitely going to bring their heat next time, knowing we just won CIC, you know, we’re defending state champions, they’re coming for us.”

“It’s definitely a lot of motivation for me personally,” said Ellis. “Especially with Chugiak, because they have such good energy, and East too, just being able to capitalize on them; they always kind of motivate me more to do better. Like, I feel like I run harder, hit farther, against these teams just because their energy honestly even helps to push me farther.”

“I think that we’re just gonna go into state in Fairbanks and just crush those teams again,” said Rodriguez, later adding, “We’re definitely not going to let our guard down at all, because these are amazing teams that we’re going against, but I know we can do it.”

Chugiak 0 2 0 3 0 0 0 – 5 9 0
South 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 – 1 4 2
Chugiak – Jolin and B. McCormick. South – Wurst and S. Cleland. W – Jolin. L – Wurst. 2B: Y Rodriguez (C), C Newall (S), E Kleven (S), M Wurst (S). 3B: None. HR: None

Story made possible by:

Nicole Johnston

Black-Smith, Bethard & Carlson

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