Two unseeded behemoths have earned their way to the title game of the DataHouse/HHSAA Division I Softball State Championships tonight.
Leilehua 14, Punahou 4, final (6 inn)
The Mules had a chance to 10-run rule Punahou in the fourth. This time, infield singles by Asuncion, Kepa‘a (bunt) and Pinera (bunt) have the bases loaded again with no outs. They just don’t have a glaring weakness across the board. Pinera battles Akimseu, fouling off two pitches with a full count before grounding a single up the middle. Asuncion is in, Kepa‘a is in, the game is over. Leilehua captures its first state softball champion in grand style.
Holy cow. Abe strikes out the side: Akimseu and Sato swinging, and Mielke looking. I don’t think that’s happened to Punahou all year.
The Mules remained aggressive. Mikayla Pinera walked, stole second, went to third on a pitch in the dirt, and after Leong walked, Pinera raced home on a bunt single by Hale. That loaded the bases for Nistal again. This time, she grounded into a 5-2-3 double play. LEILEHUA 12, PUNAHOU 4.
On the mound, Nistal tired in the fifth, walking four batters as Punahou eked out a run. Alyssa Abe took over on the mound. Nistal’s effective performance: 3 2/3 innings, 3 runs, 2 hits, five strikeouts, eight bases on balls. She did what few teams could do: limit Punahou’s power hitting. With the bases still loaded, Ishii drew a walk from Abe, scoring Alejo and cutting the lead to 11-4. Abe then got Saiki to ground out to short, ending the threat. Again. At this point, Punahou had left 11 runners on base. LEILEHUA 11, PUNAHOU 4
The dam burst in the fourth. Leong and Hale singled, and Araki walked to load the bases. Nistal then rocketed a ball down the left-field line and over the wall for Leilehua’s second grand slam of the game. Akimseu replaced Ishii on the mound. LEILEHUA 11, PUNAHOU 2.
The Buffanblu had two runners on, but Saiki grounded out and Akimseu hit a soft liner to short, ending the inning.
The Mules are relentless at the plate. Gwen Maeha, who entered the game as a DP after Kamakaiwi left with injury, leads off with a single. She advances to third after an error and scores on a sac fly, more of a line drive to center that is caught on a great dive by Mielke. LEILEHUA 7, PUNAHOU 2.
Punahou got a run on a leadoff double by Saiki, who went to third on a passed ball and scored on a groundout to second by Janell Sato. But that was all. LEILEHUA 6, PUNAHOU 2.
A single by Alyssa Asuncion, walk by Jacelyn Kepa‘a and bunt single (Staisa Mahoe) loaded the bases with one out. Mikayla Pinera’s single to left brings Asuncion home to tie the game at 1. Then Brandi Leong’s liner is stabbed and almost caught by Ishii. The infield single allowed Kepa‘a to score, giving Leilehua a 2-1 lead. But it almost was an inning-ending double play. The next batter, Kayla Hale, grounded into a forceout at home. Then the big blast, a grand slam by Gianna Araki to center despite a brisk wind coming in from Manoa. LEILEHUA 6, PUNAHOU 1.
Punahou loads the bases (hit batter, walk, walk), but Nistal gets Ishii swinging at strike three to end the threat.
The Mules get Kayla Hale on base with one out after an infield error, and then Gianna Araki’s grounder/forceout play is ruled safe at second base on the throw from third base. But Kaena Nistal grounds into a 4-3 double play to end the frame.
Punahou strikes first and scores on a single by Bailey Akimseu, with Kennedy Ishii (single) scoring. The Buffanblu threatened to score more, but Leilehua turned a 6-3-2-5-1 double play. In the process, starting pitcher Kamryn Kamakaiwi injured an ankle and had to be carried off the diamond. Huge turn of events, even though the Mules have quality depth at pitcher. PUNAHOU 1, LEILEHUA 0.