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 Softball Earns State Tourney Berth



Sentinel Sports Editor

The Sitka High Lady Wolves softball team rebounded from a first round loss to Juneau-Douglas with a win against Thunder Mountain High in the Region V tournament Saturday in Sitka, but then fell for a second time to Juneau in the title game. Sitka took second place overall in the bracket of four teams.

While Juneau’s Crimson Bears won the regional title, Sitka’s second place finish earned the team a chance to compete at the state tournament this weekend in Anchorage.

In game two of the regional bracket, Sitka beat TMHS 18-8, in the process securing their state berth.

The two teams were tied through the first two innings in the game with Thunder Mountain, but Sitka pulled ahead with 5 runs in the third. The Lady Wolves stretched their lead through the game, and in the top of the seventh, junior Nai’a Nelson hit a double that cleared the bases, scoring 3 runs for the home team. The Lady Falcons tried to come back in the late game, but could score no more than 2 runs in an inning, and a rally didn’t materialize.

Sitka senior and captain Harlee Nelson summarized the Thunder Mountain game with a single word: “Energy - our energy was really big that game and that’s exactly what we needed.”

As a designated base runner in that game, freshman Alina Lebahn agreed with Nelson’s assessment.

“I want to stay aggressive; I want to get on base; I want to score the runs. That was the biggest thing, keeping the energy high,” said Lebahn.

Kaiya Balovich was on the pitcher’s mound for the entire match against the Falcons.

“(I was) definitely hitting all my spots, and all my pitches were working,” she said. That, with a sharp defense in the field, prevented any Thunder Mountain rally.

For Sitka coach Jael McCarty, the semifinal game against TMHS was crucial, as it determined who would get a chance for the state title.

“We really needed to throw everything at it because that was the state berth game. And it took a lot of energy, and a lot of spice... The difference is always when the defense plays. We made some great plays on defense,” McCarty said after the tournament.

But when the Lady Wolves again faced Juneau under spitting rain Saturday afternoon, the Crimson Bears held the home team scoreless for the first five innings. Juneau built a slow lead in the process, with 2 runs in the bottom of the second, third and fourth innings. In the fifth, the first three Sitka batters were retired in order, but Sitka’s bats came alive in the top of the sixth. A single by Harlee Nelson scored the team’s first run of the game, and junior Adrianna Denkinger followed that up by batting in another run.

Her hit boosted Sitka’s morale and momentum as the home team dugout came alive.

Following Denkinger’s hit, Nai’a Nelson batted Harlee Nelson back home. With two outs on the board, Alina Lebahn hit a double, scoring another RBI as the Lady Wolves rallied. 

Lebahn recalled the moment in detail.

“I was a little nervous, but I did have Nai’a on second and I could see her cheering me on, keeping me in a good headspace,” Lebahn said. “...I felt comfortable going in because I had my team backing me up. It’s easy to score and hit if you’re rallying.”

Sophomore Madison Campbell stepped up after Lebahn and hit another RBI. By the end of the sixth, Sitka had 6 runs on the board.

Juneau stretched their lead by 2 more runs in the bottom of the sixth, however, and the game ended after the top of the seventh, when the Crimson Bears’ defense shut down Sitka’s batters. Of four Lady Wolves who stepped up to bat in the final inning, only Harlee Nelson made it beyond home.

Juneau won 9-6. But it’s never wise to overlook the Wolves’ ability to rally, McCarty said.

“You can never count our team out because our bats all of a sudden do stuff,” the coach said. “We have big innings a lot. So I’ve never worried until I see their affect change, and their affect didn’t change. They wanted it; they were ready for it.”

Kaleena Tucker and Kaiya Balovich were named to the All Conference team, and sportsmanship awards went to Macee Steinson and Adrianna Denkinger. Steinson and Andrea and Michele Winger earned the All Academic accolade.

Harlee Nelson is eager for the chance for the team to prove itself at state.

“We definitely have a lot more work to do, but it feels good and it’s a big accomplishment for this team, because the last two years have really been working years,” Nelson said.

McCarty said the Lady Wolves will have their work cut out for them in Anchorage.

“We’ll have to show up and play against every team. There’s nobody we can walk over,” she said.

The tournament begins today with pool play in which Sitka will face Kenai. The bracket for the championship title runs Friday and Saturday at Cartee Fields in Anchorage.

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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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