’Tis the season of offensive forces throughout the leagues of softball.
Pitching as a whole seems steady, but far from dominant. The cycle goes up and down, and coaches are hoping their underclassmen can rise to the challenge. Third-ranked Campbell got a memorable effort from sophomore Chloe Sales on Tuesday in a 6-5 comeback win over No. 2 Leilehua.
It was quite the splash for the Sabers. The matchup with Leilehua had been postponed twice due to soggy conditions.
Though Sales and her counterpart, Leilehua ace Kamryn Kamakaiwi, offered little resistance in the first three innings, both pitchers turned the tables after that.
Sales surrendered four runs on six hits, then shut out Leilehua’s potent offense the rest of the way. The lefty gave up five runs on seven hits. She struck out three, walked none and hit two batters. She was at her best after the early mayhem.
“It’s about having confidence. Sometimes, I’ll have an off day, I’m not hitting my spots and then I’ll lose my rhythm,” she said.
Tuesday was a bit like one of those off days. Her fastball struggled to paint the inside corner.
“But my curve ball was working. Coach (Michael “Shag” Hermosura) calls the pitches. In the fifth inning, I started hitting the curves.”
The Sabers, who were ranked No. 1 earlier in the season, lost twice last week. They’ve won two in a row since. At 7-2, they’re in position to claim first or second place in the OIA West. The reward would be a first-round bye and home-field advantage for at least one round of the Division I playoffs.
Chloe Domingo was one of several players who were celebrated after the game on senior day. They all got muddied up as they slid home headfirst and were pelted with water balloons by teammates. Domingo was quick enough to get some of the mud on her jersey on her head coach.
“It’s going to be an interesting states and OIA (playoffs). Every team has a lot to bring,” she said.
It was a tough-luck loss for Kamakaiwi. The Mules committed two errors in the seventh inning, and her relief help, Abe, committed an illegal pitch that put the potential winning run at third base. Domingo then slapped an opposite-field single to bring in Alesia Ranches with the winning run.
The Mules, who were also ranked No. 1 earlier in the Star-Advertiser Top 10, will ride out the roller coaster of emotions.
“Rankings, standings, it’s going to flip-flop,” Mules coach Wendell Au said. “Everything is about momentum this time of the season. We can’t dwell on wins or losses.”
Hermosura, who has guided Campbell to three state championships in a row, is at peace with the progress of his young team and its colorful seniors.
“That’s one thing. We have no grade problems. When they were down, they worked hard and got their grades back up,” he said.
The postseason may be more wide open than anytime in state history.
“Everyone,” Hermosura added, “is under one umbrella.”
The longtime Sabers coach said he got some interesting news earlier in the day. Campbell’s baseball and softball fields, the source of scheduling issues for decades due to a nonexistent drainage system, could be getting help.
“There’s a plan to put (synthetic) turf here, build a restroom so people don’t have to walk all the way to the school,” Hermosura said. “I like it. Hopefully, it’s done before I’m done coaching.”
Here’s the scoring recap that didn’t make the cut for Wednesday’s print edition.
The Mules scored twice in the opening frame. Brandi Leong walked, Mikayla Pinera dropped a bunt single and Kamryn Kamakaiwi brought Leong home with a single. Gianna Araki singled to center, plating Pinera.
The Sabers scored in the bottom of the first when they loaded the bases with two walks and a single, and Domingo’s forceout at second allowed Trinity Favela to score from third base.
Campbell took a 3-2 lead in the second. Tommie Angelo-Kumar singled, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Caisha Nunes, who kept going all the way to third base when the ball eluded right fielder Alohilani Kauhane. Nunes then scored on a wild pitch.
The visitors scored three times in the top of the third to regain the lead. Kamakaiwi’s single scored Leong (single) from third base. Moments later, Alyssa Ascension’s single to left plated Kamakaiwi and Araki (single) for a 5-3 edge.
Campbell scored a single run in the bottom of the third when Zoie Recolan singled with two outs and scored on Angelo-Kukar’s infield single.
Then Kamakaiwi was lustrous, retiring nine batters in a row. However, the two errors in the seventh by the Mules set the stage for Campbell’s clutch hits.
Leilehua (6-3) 203 000 0 — 5 7 3
Campbell (7-3) 121 000 2 — 6 7 1
Kamryn Kamakaiwi, Alyssa Abe (7) and Shea Tammarine. Chloe Sales and Dyllan Sanay-Shiraishi. W—Sales. L—Kamakaiwi.
Leading hitters—Leilehua: Brandi Leong 1-2, 2 runs, BB, HBP; Kamakaiwi 2-4, 2 RBIs, run; Gianna Araki 2-3, RBI, run. Campbell: Chloe Domingo 1-4, 2 RBIs; Zoie Recolan 2-3, run; Tommie Angelo-Kukar 2-3, run; Caisha Nunes 1-3, RBI, run.