Playing in 60-degree weather and under a cloudless sky, the Bears grabbed control of the Northern Lights Conference with a four-game sweep of Skyview and Kenai Friday and Saturday in their first home games of the season at East Addition Park.
“This is the best that we have looked all year. This is what I have been waiting for,” Kodiak coach Sam Catt said. “I know Kenai and Skyview are down, but the girls picked it up. We had to win the games no matter who it was.”
Kodiak disposed of both teams quickly as all four games ended under the mercy rule.
On Friday, Kodiak beat Skyview, 11-1, and Kenai, 13-0. On Saturday, the Bears defeated Skyview, 17-4, and Kenai, 15-0.
The Bears improved to a conference-best 5-1 record and evened their overall mark to 5-5.
This weekend’s four victories moved Kodiak closer to its first NLC title since 2010. The Bears’ final conference games are at home against Homer — a loser to Skyview — in two weeks. Catt believes one win against the Mariners could seal the championships and the Bears’ second-straight trip to the small-school state championship.
“We are one step away from getting what we want, which is going to state,” Kodiak catcher Kaitlyn Clark said.
Clark stayed busy in the wins, catching all of Kaia Yatsik’s 239 pitches during the four games.
She said she stayed hydrated and iced her right arm between games to stay fresh.
“I drank a lot of water and I have been catching for a really long time — since second grade — so I am kind of used to it,” Clark said. “And catching for Kaia is very easy. She is just an accurate pitcher.”
Catt said most teams would have had multiple catchers during a marathon weekend, but he knew his junior signal-caller could handle it.
“She is a trooper. She is a tough girl,” Catt said.
Yatsik made Clark’s job a bit easier by consistently pounding the strike zone. The senior hurler struck out 29 and walked only three batters in four games. “Kaia was on fire this week,” Catt said.
The offense was also humming, pounding out 44 hits — 16 went for extra bases.
Twelve players recorded hits, with Clark leading the way with nine. Celeste Chichenoff had eight hits, while Kassidy Ellison added four hits.
“This is the way we hit the ball last year,” Catt said. “This is the first time this year that I have seen the team hit like this as a team.”
Kodiak 11, Skyview 1
Yatsik walked the first two batters of the game — both of them got thrown out trying to steal third. The right-hander settled down after that, retiring the next 11 hitters to pick up the easy victory.
She allowed only one run and one hit — an infield single in the fifth — while striking out nine.
Yatsik received plenty of help from her offense.
Kassidy Ellison, Celeste Chichenoff and Samantha Heglin accounted for six of Kodiak’s nine hits, while the Bears also benefited from Skyview’s sloppy play — the Panthers committed six errors that led to six runs.
Kodiak got run-scoring singles from Kaitlyn Clark and Heglin and a RBI double from Sydney Hosier. Chichenoff drove in two with a double in the fifth that made the score 10-0.
Kodiak 13, Kenai 0
Clark ripped three singles and drove in two as Kodiak downed Kenai in four innings.
Kodiak took control with a 10-run first inning. The Bears sent 15 batters to the plate and collected six hits — Clark got two of her three singles during the inning.
Yatsik allowed three hits, while striking out six and walking none. She helped her own cause by blasting a three-run double in the first.
Kodiak 17, Skyview 4
All nine of Kodiak’s players scored in the fourth inning that turned a 6-3 lead into a blowout victory.
Half of Kodiak’s 14 hits went for extra bases, while Clark led the way with three hits. Catt had two hits, while Kalamelia Matautia also had two hits and two RBIs.
It took the Bears only two pitches to grab the lead for good. Catt roped the first pitch of the game to left field for a double, which was followed by an Ellison triple on the very next pitch.
Skyview, making its final trip to Kodiak before the school closes for good after the school year, scored one in the first and two in the second and trailed only 5-3.
A Clark double that scored Chichenoff pushed the lead to 6-3 in the third.
Kodiak 15, Kenai 0
Yatsik didn’t allow a hit in Kodiak’s three-inning mercy-rule victory. She struck out half of the 10 batters she faced and walked one.
Yatsik also legged out a two-run inside-the-park home run in the third inning and doubled home a run in the second.
Chichenoff singled three times, while Catt and Clark each had a single and a double. Clark’s two-run double capped a six-run second inning that pushed the score to 13-0.
Contact Mirror writer Derek Clarkston at email@example.com.
BEARS 11, PANTHERS 1
Skyview 000 01 — 1 1 6
Kodiak 223 4x — 11 9 1
Reynolds and Schoessler; Yatsik and Clark.
RBI: Kodiak — Clark 1, Heglin 1, Hosier 1, Chichenoff 2. Skyview — M. Rodriguez. Double: Kodiak — Chichenoff, Hosier. Two hits: Kodiak — Ellison, Chichenoff, Heglin.
Winning pitcher — Yatsik (Struck out nine, walked two). Losing pitcher — Reynolds (Struck out two, walked six).
BEARS 13, KARDINALS 0
Kenai 000 0 — 0 3 4
Kodiak (10)30 x — 13 9 0
Shaginoff and Evans; Yatsik and Clark.
RBI: Kodiak — Catt 1, Ellison 1, Clark 2, Chichenoff 1, Stobinski 1, Yatsik 3. Double: Kodiak — Yatsik. Three hits: Kodiak — Clark.
Winning pitcher — Yatsik (Struck out six, walked none). Losing pitcher — Shaginoff (Struck out three, walked five).
BEARS 17, PANTHERS 4
Skyview 120 10 — 4 9 6
Kodiak 321 92 — 17 14 5
Reynolds and Schoessler; Yatsik and Clark.
RBI: Skyview — Reynolds 1, Oberts 1, Lahndt 1. Kodiak — Catt 1, Ellison 1, Matautia 2, Chichenoff 1, Clark 1, Hosier 1, Timu 2, Heglin 1. Triple: Kodiak — Ellison. Double: Kodiak — Catt, Matautia, Chichenoff, Clark, Timu, Heglin. Three hits: Skyview — Reynolds. Kodiak — Clark. Two hits: Skyview — Oberts. Kodiak — Catt, Matautia, Chichenoff.
Winning pitcher — Yatsik (Struck out nine, walked none). Losing pitcher — Reynolds (Struck out four, walked four).
BEARS 15, KARDINALS 0
Kenai 000 — 0 0 2
Kodiak 762 — 15 12 0
Quartly and Evans; Yatsik and Clark.
RBI: Kodiak — Catt 2, Ellison 3, Clark 3, Chichenoff 1, Yatsik 3, Price 2. Home run: Kodiak — Yatsik. Triple: Kodiak — Catt, Price. Double: Kodiak — Catt, Clark, Yatsik. Three hits: Kodiak — Chichenoff. Two hits: Kodiak — Catt, Ellison, Clark, Yatsik.
Winning pitcher — Yatsik (Struck out five, walked one). Losing pitcher — Quartly (Struck out none, walked five).