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Story Last modified at 5:56 p.m. on Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Not just yet
Wolves remain in rivals' softball shadow

BY MATT TUNSETH
Alaska Star

photo:Sports

Chugiak third baseman Brooke Dunlap makes a throw across the diamond as Eagle River coach Kevin Murphy looks on during the Mustangs' 13-0 win over Eagle River on April 27 at Albrecht Fields in Anchorage.
STAR PHOTO BY MATT TUNSETH

Eagle River softball coach Kevin Murphy is the first to admit that he'd love to see his Wolves someday reach the level of their cross-town rivals.

"Who doesn't?" Murphy asked after Chugiak handed the Wolves a 13-0 defeat on April 27 at Albrecht Fields in Anchorage.

Murphy – who coached at Chugiak before taking the Eagle River job – said the Mustangs are one of the premier softball teams in the state.

"They're a great program," he said. "We'd like to be there someday. We'd like to beat 'em."

The Mustangs used overpowering pitching by Ashley Van Ryn and scored runs in all four innings to cruise to victory.

"We got an excellent pitching performance," said Chugiak coach Jim Huber.

Van Ryn struck out six batters and allowed just two baserunners in the game – one on a walk and one on her own error.

At the plate, first baseman Jessi McMullen got things going early with a bases-clearing double that put the Mustangs up 4-0 after the first inning. Chugiak added two in the second and third innings and tacked on four more in the fourth. Sophie Mundell scored three times.

Carrie Oyebi took the loss for Eagle River.

Lathrop 8, Chugiak 7

Chugiak 13, West Valley 1

It was a Railbelt split for the Mustangs against Lathrop and West Valley on April 28 in Wasilla.

In the first game of a non-conference doubleheader, Chugiak got to witness the incredible debut of freshman phenom Kacey Duffield, who homered in her first two high school at bats and had 5 RBI.

"They didn't just barely clear the fence, she cranked 'em," said Huber.

Duffield also pitched for the undefeated Malemutes.

"They've got something special right there," Huber said.

Chugiak rallied to take a 7-5 lead into the bottom of the sixth, but it wasn't enough as the Malemutes pushed three across in the final half to earn the win.

Jess Tramp struck out 10 batters – but also issued six walks – to take the loss.

In the second game, Chugiak took its Fairbanks frustrations out on West Valley, crushing the Wolfpack 13-1 in four innings.

"I guess we took it out on them," Huber said.

Van Ryn struck out five and gave up just two hits for the win while Kristen Lessard went 2-for-3 with 5 RBI.

Chugiak 7, South 2

Jessica Tramp struck out five while giving up just three hits and one walk in Chugiak's 7-2 CIC win on April 30.

Taylor Bakker went 3-for-3 with two runs scored for Chugiak, which also got two runs from Tracie Haken.

Huber said he's been pleased with his team's offensive output so far this season, with contributions coming from just about everyone.

"I'm getting offensive help all throughout the lineup," he said.

The Mustangs are stocked with multi-sport athletes, and Huber said the team's athleticism will be its strength going forward.

"I think we have the most athletic team in the state," he said.

Chugiak improved to 6-2.

East 16, Eagle River 5

For a while, it looked like Eagle River might just pull an upset over defending state runners-up on May 2 at Albrecht Field.

"We did pretty good for about three innings," Murphy said.

Then the wheels came off, as the Wolves fell victim to a string of errors that enabled East to pull away for a 16-5 win.

"We had a bad inning," Murphy said. "We just gave them too many outs."

Murphy said his team hit the ball well, and trailed just 7-5 after three.

"We actually hit the ball pretty well for the most part," he said.

Eagle River fell to 4-5 overall.

South 17, Eagle River 7

Service 16, Eagle River 3

South side squads had the Wolves' number on April 30 at Albrecht Fields.

South opened the day by getting to Oyebi early and often in a 17-7 win. Lexi Curtis went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles for the Wolves.

"It was good to see her really get her bat smoking again," Murphy said.

Natasia Lovelace-Smith struck out two batters in the 16-3 loss to Service before giving way to Oyebi.

Eagle River 7, Wasilla 2

Eagle River 11, Wasilla 5

Eagle River earned a sweep of Wasilla on April 29 in Wasilla.

"We're encouraged with the way the girls are playing," Murphy said. "I think we're going to surprise some teams."

Destinie Rainer struck out five in the opener, a 7-2 Wolves win. Kelly Youngs and Lexi Curtis each doubled at the plate.

In the second game, Natasia Lovelace-Smith picked up her first win of the year with a solid two-strikeout performance.

"We played good defense behind her," Murphy said.

Wasilla had a 4-0 lead before Eagle River broke things open with an 11-run third.

"We came alive at that point," he said of his squad, which racked up eight singles in the inning.

Lindsey Fukuoka had two hits and was hit by a pitch to lead the offense.

Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or matt.tunseth@alaskastar.com



This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, May 4, 2011.