Chugiak softball coach Jim Huber believes his team's best is yet to come.
Chugiak's Jessi McMullen gets a base hit during a game against Eagle River earlier this season. The Mustangs finished third in the Cook Inlet Conference tournament last week, and will begin play in the state tournament against Lathrop at 9 a.m. on Friday, June 3 at Cartee Fields in Anchorage.
STAR FILE PHOTO
"I still feel like we have not reached our full potential," Huber said on May 30, five days after his team qualified for state with a third-place finish at the Cook Inlet Conference tournament.
The Mustangs lost to just one team in the double elimination tournament. Unfortunately, they lost two times, falling twice to East by identical 5-4 scores. Along the way, Chugiak eliminated two other teams with an 8-0 win over Service on May 25 and a 5-2 win over West on May 26 that put them into the consolation finals against the T-Birds later that day.
Both East losses came in extra innings, and both included blown leads by Chugiak.
"We just didn't get it done at the very end," Huber said.
Chugiak still managed to claim one of the CIC's four berths in this week's state tourney, which gets underway against Lathrop at 9 a.m. on Friday, June 3, at Cartee Fields in Anchorage.
Huber said he's hopeful his squad will emerge from the Memorial Day weekend rested and ready for battle.
"I'm hoping that this week it finally comes together for us," he said.
Eagle River lost its second consecutive CIC tourney game and was eliminated from the tournament with a 17-7 loss to South on May 25.
Wolves coach Kevin Murphy said most of this year's team is expected to return next season, with the exception of Amanda Rivera (graduation) and Carrie Oyebi (military transfer).
"We have a good core of underclassmen and I'm really looking forward to it," Murphy said.
The first-year head coach said he plans to return next year, as do the majority of his assistants, meaning next year's Wolves should be a veteran group.
"I think a lot of our players that have played at the varsity level for a couple years now understand what it takes to win," he said.
Four locals named All-CIC
Chugiak's Kacey Brooker, Brooke Dunlap and Jessica Tramp and Eagle River's Sarah Peyton were named to the All Cook Inlet Conference team announced following the CIC tournament. West's Pauline Tufi was named the CIC's Player of the Year and West's Jeff Matthis was Coach of the Year.
This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, June 1, 2011.