The journey that the North Pole Patriots’ softball team went through to reach the DII State Title game is the kind of stuff that movies are made of.
Second place finishers in their conference, few expected them to make it far in the tourney.
Losing their first three games of the playoffs, including a would-be comeback attempt in game one against Homer, they battled on.
They defeated Homer in the rematch 21-20, they downed their conference rival Delta 24-21, and they got revenge against Ketchikan 10-2 to reach the championship.
The resiliency it takes to pull that off is as commendable as any trophy.
The Patriots will return home with a trophy all the same, just not the one they were hoping to bring back.
After reaching the DII State Tournament game Saturday, the Patriots were tasked with defeating Juneau-Douglas. While North Pole battled early, they were unable to pull off the upset this time, losing 16-4. They’ll be bringing home the DII Runner-Up trophy instead.
It was a tall task to begin with. After losing to Juneau 19-6 in Pool Play, North Pole would’ve had to pull off two consecutive wins to collect their first ever softball state title and just the second state title in 17 years for the school. They only got through game one as Juneau completed the tournament undefeated.
The Patriots didn’t give up without a fight.
They actually got on the board first as Sierra Howard’s sacrifice fly score Taylor Croan in the first inning before Ciara Martinez’s RBI double scored Lylah Murrah to make it a 2-0 game.
Juneau scored four runs in the bottom of the first to take a 4-2 lead, however.
North Pole struck back in the top of the second as Croan’s sacrifice fly scored Danika Dawley to cut the deficit to one.
Juneau-Douglas responded once again, though, as they added two runs in the bottom of the second to make it 6-3.
In the third inning, sadly, Juneau put the game out of reach. North Pole failed to score in the top of the inning while JD added seven runs in the bottom of the inning to make it 13-3.
The Patriots did add another run in the top of the fourth as Alicia Guzman’s RBI single scored Dawley, but Juneau added three runs in the bottom of the fourth to make it a 12 run difference and end the game after just four innings of play.
Guzman went 2-for-3 with one RBI, Dawley was 2-for-2 with two runs, and Martinez was 1-for-2 with one RBI on the game.
No, it wasn’t the first place trophy or the state title that they’d hoped for.
To overcome the odds that they did to make the championship game, however, is something the Patriots should be proud of.
The 2021 North Pole softball team will always have that knowledge to hold on to.
Contact sports reporter Hart Pisani at 459-7530 or follow him at twitter.com/FDNMSports.