Story last updated at 11/11/2009 - 11:53 am
JUNEAU - The Northern Exposure women from Juneau, Alaska participated in their first Senior Softball Tournament by playing in the Women's 40 Master AA Division in the 2009 Phoenix World Championships which featured teams from 37 states and 3 different countries spread across all ages groups and divisions.
The team started planning in late 2008 following in the footsteps of the men's team from Juneau that has been participating in the Senior Softball 50 & over AA Division since 2006.
Northern Exposure's nine core players have been playing together for over 10 years. Additionally, two players who used to play softball in Juneau were added to the roster (one from Seattle, Wash. and one from Richmond, Va.). Two other Seattle pick-ups were added to round out the team. The team covered all costs of the tournament including travel, lodging and sponsorship fees. For the Alaska and Pacific Northwest players, the cost was more than worth it to get a vacation to a warm, sunny place during the dark, rainy fall season.
While the out-of-town players were still playing softball well into September, the regular season in Juneau ended by the second week of July. Because of this, the Juneau residents had an unorthodox approach for preparing for the Phoenix tournament. They had a few practices outside and then they picked up enough players to join them in a six-game second season senior softball league, which adopted the Senior Softball rules, and involved playing against two men's teams. For the last month before the tournament, they shared the indoor batting cages with the men's team; had three indoor practices on a turf field and two practices outside when it wasn't raining. The last outdoor practice was on a beautiful, sunny day; however, the 50-degree temperature was slightly cooler than the record-breaking temperature of 100 degrees the team played in just four days later.
Despite the difficulty in getting in a lot of softball time after their regular season, the team was pleased with their performance in Phoenix, exceeding their expectations. They beat Mature Madness from New Mexico (12-5) and then beat TKO, also from New Mexico (18-8) in the round robin. With the wins, the team was seeded first in their pool. They lost their first bracket game against Law and Order from Missouri (11-19) and then came back for the next two games beating Mature Madness a 2nd time (10-3) and H-Town with Bats from Texas (11-9). In the next game, they came out and beat Nacho Mamas from Arizona (18-16) to put them into the semi-finals against Curty Lo from Massachusetts. They fell short in the barnburner of a game losing by one (17-18) after coming back from a seven run deficit in the seventh inning. The team ended the tournament in fourth place out of eight teams with a total record of 5-2.
The team would like to thank JSA and Midnight Suns Softball for their support in their phoenix endeavors as well as Alaska Outdoor Warehouse and Embroidery for helping with uniforms and hats.
The team is planning on returning to the tournament next year.