Nanakuli’s Lute shines in New City Nissan Senior Classic

Team Rogue overpowered Team Armada 10-2 for the championship of the New City Nissan Senior Softball Classic. Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser

Cheyenne Lute didn’t dwell in despair as Nanakuli’s softball team fell into a season of forfeiture after just two games.

The senior simply took on a new challenge, playing for the Golden Hawks baseball team. The baseball season ended, and she went back to softball. On Sunday night, she hurled Team Rogue to victory over Team Armada in the final of the New City Nissan Softball Senior Classic, 10-2, at Patsy Mink Central Oahu Regional Park.

Even more intriguing: In the title game, Lute faced some of the state’s top hitters, including Kamehameha’s Dallas Millwood and Maryknoll’s Kahilu McNicoll, and emerged with a two-hitter in a complete-game performance. Lute didn’t walk a batter until the sixth inning and finished with four strikeouts and just one base on balls.

“It was a little rough. My change-up, rise, screw and curve worked,” she said.

A little rough is an understatement. Lute pitched through a groin injury suffered in Saturday’s pool-play action.

“When I hurt the groin on my push-off leg, it hurt pretty bad, but today’s my last game. It’s on TV. I can’t look bad.”

She is content to go without sports at the next level.

“My future is not softball. I”m going to Inspire Church College in Waikele. The classes are online.

Lute is open to a possible change in plans.

“I’ll do whatever God has planned,” she said.

Rogue had Lute, Shaylee Alani of Kamehameha and Elisa Santoyo of Radford busy on the mound Saturday. Aiea’s Alan Higuchi, Team Rogue’s coach, knew plenty about Lute. His team faced Nanakuli when she was one of their top pitchers as a freshman three years ago.

“After the game yesterday, she told me she’d be fine today. She’s a tough kid. Our division, we’ve competed against Nanakuli the past four, five years. She was the (D-II) state championship pitcher as a freshman, starting shortstop,” Higuchi said. “I’m not surprised what she did today. That’s her M.O. That’s her makeup, she’s the same as she was freshman year, but she’s a lot stronger now.”

Higuchi hopes Lute extends her career.

“I’ve been encouraging her the past week to give herself at least two or three years at a university or a junior college,” Higuchi said. “There’s things that come into play if you go away to college.”

Rogue was error-free on the dirt diamond at CORP while Titan committed five errors. They scored one in the first inning on a sac fly off the bat of Hailey Matsumura (St. Francis), plating Noel Saunders (Pearl City).

In the second, Chloe Domingo (Campbell) reached base on an infield single, Kiley Ozaki (Kapolei) singled and Kanoe Tanigawa’s groundout scored Domingo. An infield error allowed Ozaki to cross home plate for a 3-0 lead.

McNicoll answered in the bottom of the second with a two-out solo shot over the left-field fence.

In the third, Domingo socked a one-out double to left and came home on a single to right by Ozaki. ‘Iolani’s Marley Dyer replaced starter McNicoll on the mound to put out the fire.

Rogue added another run in the fifth. Domingo was again the spark plug, leading off with an infield single. An infield error allowed Tanigawa to reach base, and Saunders’ groundout plated Domingo from third base for a 5-1 Rogue lead.

In the sixth, Rogue brought three runs in. Hailey Matsumura and pinch hitter Camryn Okada (Pac-Five) singled, and Kiana Arcayena (Maryknoll) socked a ground-rule double to right, scoring Matsumura. Domingo’s groundout plated Okada, and Karmen Aiwohi’s double to right scored Arcayena for an 8-1 lead.

Lute issued her first and only walk in the bottom of the sixth to Dyer, who later scored on a single by Cheyne Obara.

Rogue tallied two more runs in the top of the seventh. Saunders led off with a double to center and Shaylee Alani followed with a fly ball to left that was dropped, but Saunders was tagged out at home attempting to score. With two outs, Kolbee Kealoha launched a two-run homer to left.

Arcayena took the mound in the bottom of the seventh and walked Lili Kaimi-Montera. Lute returned and retired the next three batters to end the game.

Nanakuli’s versatile Cheyenne Lute endured a season lost to forfeiture by her team, but emerged at the Senior Classic as the winning pitcher in the title game for Team Rogue. Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser

Team Leaf 4, Team Titan 2 (third place)
Sammie Ofoia ripped a two-run home run as Team Leaf claimed third place. The St. Francis slugger went 2-for-3, belting her homer in the third inning as Leaf opened a 3-0 lead.
Bailey Akimseu (Punahou) pitched four scoreless innings of one-hit ball, striking out one and walking three. Kayla Hensley (Waianae) hurled the final three innings (two runs, three hits, one strikeout, two walks).

Leaf took a 1-0 lead in the second inning against Kaena Nistal (Leilehua). Hailey Yamaguchi (Pearl City) led off with an infield single and scored on a double to left by Staisa Micky (Leilehua).

Up three runs to begin the bottom of the fifth, Brandi Leong (Leilehua) led off with a triple to left, then scored scored on Sensley’s single to center.

Titan broke their scoreless drought with two runs in the top of the sixth. Ciena Kauhi (Kapolei) singled to left and stole second base, and Kennedy Ishii (Punahou) singled to left. With runners at the corners Mari Foster singled the other way to right, plating Kauhi.

After a sac bunt by Caitlin Taga (Mid-Pacific), Skye Ah Yat’s hard shot to the mound turned into a 1-4-3 putout, scoring Ishii. Hensley then retired Kyler Stephens (Kamehameha) on a grounder to short, ending the inning.

Titan’s Zoie Recolan (Campbell) led off the top of the seventh with a walk, and Kauai reached base on a two-out walk, but Hensley fanned Ishii to end the game.

Nistal, Titan’s starting pitcher, went three innings and permitted three runs on six hits with one strikeout. Foster took over for two innings with one run, three hits, two strikeouts and two walks. Ishii hurled one scoreless inning, allowing one hit.

Extra bases: Punahou’s Bailey Akimseu won the home run contest.

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