Eagle River softball team earns first state bid since ‘07
The most successful sports team in Eagle River High School is back in the state tournament for the first time in more than a decade.
The Wolves softball team knocked off defending state champion South on Thursday in the Cook Inlet Conference Tournament to earn one of the CIC’s four automatic berths at state for the first time since 2007. Senior Alina Cook pitched a complete game in the 2-1 win, which advanced the Wolves into a Saturday semifinal showdown against East. There, the T-birds were the better team, handing the Wolves and starter Avery Brown a 4-2 loss.
Eagle River bounced back Saturday, posting a 4-3 win over Dimond to advance to the title game against East. There, Brown was again stymied by the powerful East squad in an 8-0 loss.
Serenity and Liberty Argudin each hit home runs for the Wolves in the tournament, leading the team with .538 and .417 averages, respectively. Cook finished with 29 strikeouts in her three victories for the Wolves.
The win over Chugiak helped hasten the Mustangs’ exit from the tournament and postseason play. Chugiak rallied to win 8-2 over Service Wednesday before getting bounced from the tournament with a 5-2 loss to Dimond Thursday at Albrecht.
The trip to state is the third in program history for the Wolves, who won the athletic department’s only state title when the team claimed victory at the 2006 tourney in the school’s first year.
“This is our first appearance at State since 2007, and the current high-water mark for a program that has had its struggles, but rebuilt thanks to a community effort,” wrote head coach Charley Peyton in an email after the tournament.
Peyton is in his final season coaching the Wolves, with Rob Sharpe set to take over the program next season. In his email, Peyton praised the Chugiak-Eagle River with helping the Wolves return to the top of the prep ranks.
“Players and coaches from Knik Little League, solid school faculty & administration support, military families new to JBER, and even oss-season clinics with our friendly rivals at Chugiak, all contributed to raise our performance and expectations,” Peyton wrote. “The Mustangs coaches, Jim Huber and Carl Waters, have been essential leaders for many years in training coaches and players alike to keep softball thriving in Eagle River.”
The state tournament will be held May 31-June 2 at South Davis Park in Fairbanks. Eagle River opens tournament pool play Thursday, May 31 against Wasilla at noon, followed by a 2:30 p.m. rematch against Dimond. Bracket play begins June 1. For more, visit asaa.org.