VOCAL EXERCISES - Artist in the Schools instructor Sarah Branton of Cherry Creek, Colorado, leads an exercise in the Sitka High School band room this morning as she teaches students how to improve their volume. Branton will be here all week working with choirs at Blatchley Middle School and Sitka High. Her instruction is part of the effort to rebuild school  choir programs and numbers following the pandemic. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

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Daily Sitka Sentinel

Sitka Stymies Ketchikan in Softball Opener


Sentinel Staff Writer

Leading off in the Region V softball tournament Thursday, Sitka High Lady Wolves scored 21 runs in two spectacular innings on their way to a 23-10 win over the Ketchikan Lady Kings.

Kayhi rallied and closed the initial gap in the mid-game, but Sitka’s defense held firm and in the seventh inning Sitka racked up 10 runs to open the tourney with a victory.

Neither team scored in the first inning, but in the top of the second, Sitka took a commanding lead with 11 runs batted in. In response, Kayhi was scoreless in the bottom of the second, and the situation looked good for Sitka.

Sitka freshman Alina Lebahn slides into home ahead of a tag during the second inning against Ketchikan, in which Sitka put up 11 runs in the team’s Region V tournament opener, Thursday in Sitka. (Sentinel photo)

“We were able to adjust to the pitcher. Everyone was able to catch the fire that was being spread,” junior Nai’a Nelson said following the game. “And we all just got excited. Batting is contagious. Once we all start hitting the ball, then we’ll just get on a roll, and it’s hard to stop us.”

Aggressive base running combined with solid hitting to produce so many runs in a single inning, Sitka coach Jael McCarty told the Sentinel.

“It’s just one of those things when you grab the momentum and all the things just start going your way. It was like our bats were finding all the holes,” said the coach. “We were hitting the ball hard… That’s one of the innings you don’t get very often, but when you get it, you’re really happy to have it.”

But the momentum shifted in the third as Sitka’s offense cooled and the Lady Kings came back with 3 runs. Sitka scored in the fourth when Nelson batted in two runners, but the home team couldn’t recapture the electricity of that second inning.

Through the mid-game, junior Adrianna Denkinger said, a handful of errors took a toll which nearly derailed the team.

“We had some field errors. Ketchikan had the energy and we didn’t… We just got in our heads at batting and in our heads at fielding, but we got out of it… We couldn’t let the game go that close with the lead we had before,” Denkinger said.

Nelson agreed with that assessment, and said it’s not the first time fielding errors have cost the team.

“We lost momentum. Once we have a couple errors, usually we would let that get to us. But this time we understood what we’ve got to do and bounced back from the errors that we made,” Nelson said. “I feel like once you make a couple errors in the field, you’ve got to build your batting back up.”

As Ketchikan rallied, Sitka’s offense sputtered. In the fifth and sixth innings, only three Sitka batters stepped up to the plate before accruing three outs.

As the game wore on, Ketchikan’s offensive chewed into Sitka’s lead inning by inning, until, by the end of the sixth, the score was 13-10 in Sitka’s favor.

For the coach, it was critical to re-energize her team as Ketchikan surged.

“It was getting frustrating watching the momentum slowly turn in their favor,” McCarty said. “But I told the girls they’ve got to get energy and the energy has to start now. And that’s what started in the (seventh) inning. They were being wild in the dugout and having a good time. And when they’re having fun, they’re hitting the ball.”

That energy was on display in the top of the seventh. Nelson led off with a hit to first base, and Kaiya Balovich sent her running home in the next play. Next at bat was Allyson Mayville, who also hit an RBI.

Sitka’s dugout was electric, and they were just getting started.

Minutes later, with bases loaded, senior Kaleena Tucker slammed the ball into center field, sending all three base runners home.

Despite Sitka’s tough mid-game, Tucker recounted, once the bats got going again Kayhi had no answer.

“That hit just boosted everything for me and even my teammates. It was crazy… Once we started batting again, we just kept going and going and going,” the senior said.

Tucker had been somewhat nervous in the mid-game, noting that Sitka doesn’t have the best track record of withstanding rallies.

“Usually when a team catches up like that, we’re used to them winning. Last year, that happened a lot. But I was just like, ‘no, this cannot happen.’ This team needs to stay positive and make no more errors,” she said. “We have to get these outs. And so once they got close enough, we finally started to catch up.”

After Tucker’s double cleared the bases, Harlee Nelson and Nai’a Nelson both hit RBIs - all before Kayhi managed a single out against the Lady Wolves. By the end of the inning Sitka had scored 10 runs and held a 13 run lead.

When Kayhi’s batters stepped up and faced Sitka relief pitcher Dalila Callahan in the bottom of the ninth, the away team was up against long, though not insurmountable, odds.

But Callahan and the rest of Sitka’s field secured the game, allowing only three Lady Kings to step up to the plate before accumulating three outs. Sitka won 23-10 in their first game of the double elimination bracket.

Sitka, the number three seed in the tournament, faces Juneau-Douglas tonight at 6 p.m., also at Moller. Juneau felled the Thunder Mountain Lady Falcons 8-6 Thursday. The results of today’s games will determine the sequence of play Saturday.

Over at the Region V baseball tourney in Juneau, also Thursday, Sitka defeated Ketchikan 8-5 to progress in the bracket.

Sitka has a solid chance against Juneau today, Denkinger said, if the softball team remains steady.

“I’m hoping we will have high energy and will come into it ready and expect anything - (but) not expect any blowouts,” she said. “We can’t get too cocky... I feel like we just have to go in prepared.”

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At a Glance

(updated 9-12-2023)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 8:57 a.m. Tuesday, September 12.

New cases as of Tuesday: 278

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 301,513

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,485

Case Rate per 100,000 – 38.14

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

COVID in Sitka

The Sitka community level is now "Low.'' Case statistics are as of Tuesday.

Case Rate/100,000 – 152.50

Cases in last 7 days – 13

Cumulative Sitka cases – 3,575

Deceased (cumulative) – 10

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.






September 2003

Sitka Tribe of Alaska is “upset and disturbed” about the Senate appropriations bill that cuts spending for Alaska tribal courts, STA Vice Chairman Gil Truitt said today. He was referring to Sen. Ted Stevens’ move to divert Department of Justice grants from tribal courts and tribal police officers to fund the Village Public Safety Officer program.



September 1973

Photo caption: Receiving service pins at a Carpenters Union Local 466 dinner meeting at the Kiksadi Club were, from left, Arthur Littlefield, Alvin Helm, Harley Finch, Dave Gibson, Gerald Hughes, Fred Nelson, Walter Moy, Edward Nelson, William Sutton and Don Stromme.


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