In the vast universe of supreme high school softball in Hawaii, Moanalua had an opportunity to leave a mark.
Na Menehune finished third in the OIA East and earned home field for the opening round of the playoffs against Waianae, the sixth and final playoff qualifier from the West. Ask Moanalua coach Dean Oshiro if eight runs — including two homers from senior Iyana Reed, a homer by Raven Rosa-Lasco and two triples from Kellie Kitano-Maguire — would give him great hope. The answer probably would be a definite yes.
But Waianae brought the wood on Wednesday afternoon. Even after falling behind 4-0 in schoolyard surroundings — Na Menehune wisely opted to play without the standard 200-foot outfield fence up — the visiting Seariders roared to a 17-8 win. It was a solid season for Moanalua, which was 9-3 in the OIA East. The strength of the West in softball, however, is like almost nothing ever seen in the league, or even the state.
Waianae was 4-8 in the treacherous OIA West, but they were also 3-0 in preseason. Overall, they are 4-8 against Top 10 teams. Only 10 other teams statewide have as many victories against ranked programs. Moanalua, with a young pitching staff and, potentially, 12 returnees next season, was 1-5-1 against Top 10 teams this season — the one win was against Kaiser. Success, development, evolution. The future is bright.
“That’s why we kept a large roster,” Oshiro said.
The Seariders were unflappable despite the early deficit. They hit for average. They hit for power. They hit with runners in scoring position. They finished with 14 hits, buoyed by three Moanalua errors. Na Menehune started Jada Young, went to Mari Kimoto in the fourth inning, then Kyler Tsukada in the sixth. Lacey Wilson-Pena pitched the seventh. Waianae got power and contact up and down the lineup. Kayla Hensley, the No. 3 hitter, belted a grand slam in a five-run sixth inning that basically put the game out of reach.
But her cousin, Kiani Hensley, had a two-run homer in a nine-run third inning. Kiani bats ninth, hadn’t played organized softball since seventh grade as she focused on volleyball. She finished 3-for-4, one of three Seariders to have a trio of hits. Her home run, like some of the early hits by the opposing Na Menehune, was a line-drive gapper that never seemed to stop as it bounced through the baseball field.
“I was telling myself, ‘Don’t fall down,’ “ she said.
It was the first time the cousins homered in the same game. Kayla Hensley finished 2-for-4 with four RBIs. Xailey Kamealoha, the leadoff hitter, was 3-for-4, and No. 2 hitter Gianni Souza-Bradbury was 3-for-5. Each finished with one RBI and two runs scored.
Now the Seariders not only have a shot at the OIA championship, they’ve secured at least a backdoor route to the state tourney. They might knock off Leilehua, the second-place team in the West, at Kaala Elementary School field on Thursday. If the Seariders lose, they would need to win a follow-up game to claim one of the six state-tournament berths allotted by the HHSAA to the OIA in Division I.
“There’s no pressure on us at all,” said Kayla Hensley, a senior second baseman. “The second time we played them (in the regular season), we almost beat them.”
Waianae coach Aina Kalaola — he is a first cousin of Campbell baseball pitcher Jamin Kalaola’s father — is in a sweet spot. His freshman ace, Alohilani Napalapalai, went five solid innings and should have plenty left in the fuel tank. Hepua Tambaoan-Kaeo was nearly flawless in two innings of relief. The Seariders can hit with the best of them. They were free of errors today.
“There’s a little bit of pressure,” Kalaola said. “But they work hard all week. We’ll just go out and play hard.”
Reed, the Moanalua slugger, played her final game. She is heading to Washington State purely for academic reasons. The Cougars don’t have a softball program.
“I’m going to miss my teammates, but I’ll see some of them in club season,” said Reed, who plays for the Island Angels. “When I come back (from college) in the summer, I’ll play in the 24-under league.”
The OIA West finished 4-0 in the OIA first round and won by a combined score of 46-15.
OIA PlayoffsUpdated: Apr. 30
|4/25||Kailua (E4)||Mililani (W5)||Mil 11-0|
|4/25||Kapolei (W3)||Farrington (E6)||Kapo, 10-0 (6)|
|4/25||Moanalua (E3)||Waianae (W6)||Wain, 17-8|
|4/25||Pearl City (W4)||Castle (E5)||PC, 8-7|
|4/26||Campbell (W1)||Mililani||Camp 11-1 (6)|
|4/26||Kaiser (E2)||Kapolei||Kapo, 13-2|
|4/26||Leilehua (W2)||Waianae||Lei, 9-0|
|4/26||Roosevelt (E1)||Pearl City||Roos, 4-2|
|4/27||Pearl City||Waianae||PC, 8-7|
|4/27||Campbell||Kapolei||Camp, 11-1 (5)|
|4/30||Pearl City||Mililani||PC, 6-4|
|4/28||Leilehua||Kapolei||Lei, 14-3 (5)|