Tyanna “Peanut Butter” Kaaialii was 11 when she was given her distinctive nickname upon joining a team in California.
Now 16, the Pearl City junior distinguished herself over the last two days by playing a leading role in back-to-back no-hitters for the Chargers.
A day after throwing the first four innings in Pearl City’s combined no-hitter against Moanalua, Kaaialii tossed a complete-game no-no in the Chargers’ 8-0 win at Kaiser on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the OIA Division I softball playoffs.
“For some reason I felt really strong today and I feel like from there I can only go up and I can only get better,” Kaaialii said after ending the game with her 14th strikeout of the afternoon.
Kaaialii struck out six over four innings before Kristin Frost closed out Pearl City’s 17-1 five-inning win against Moanalua on Wednesday and was close to untouchable for much of Thursday’s game.
She posted four strikeouts in the first inning (Kaiser’s Chelsea Soong reached on a passed ball after a swinging third strike) and the Cougars didn’t put a ball in play until Tiana Ching-Lake grounded out to shortstop to lead off the third.
The Pearl City outfield didn’t touch a ball after warmups with Kaaialii getting 13 outs herself and the other eight on five grounders and three infield popups. The closest threat to the no-hitter came in the top of the seventh when third baseman Hope Casarez snagged Seli Aholelei’s sharp grounder down the line and first baseman Anasaria Cabato made the tag on a high throw.
After Soong reached base in the first, Kaaialii retired 19 straight before issuing consecutive walks with two out in the seventh and ended the game with her final K.
Kaiser struggled to catch up with Kaaialii’s fastball and she mixed in an effective off-speed pitch to keep the Cougars off balance.
“She’s been putting in the hours working on that pitch. Give credit to her dad the guy calling our pitches, they’re on the same page,” Pearl City coach Chad Obara said. “Team effort. They’re all working together to get her where we want her to be and hopefully she can keep it up.”
With the win, Pearl City advanced to a semifinal matchup against Mililani on Friday at McKinley and secured one of the OIA’s six berths in the Division I state tournament.
“We look to play good ball every time we step on the field, good consistent, hard-nosed softball,” Obara said, “and I keep telling them the results take care of themselves. … Just hope they can stay focused and keep everything under control.”
Obara said the Pearl City coaches have worked with Kaaialii on her control throughout the season and she located her pitches consistently over the past two days.
“She’s putting the ball where we want her to put the ball and that way if anything goes wrong it’s our fault,” Obara said.
Cabato gave Pearl City the lead with a two-run double in the second inning, but Aholelei kept Kaiser within striking distance until the Chargers broke away with a six-run sixth inning highlighted by Darian Obara’s two-out, two-run single.
Kaaialii was dubbed Peanut Butter when she joined a team that gave nicknames to each player and she brought it with her from California.
“One of them was Chocolate. There was Shark Bait, Hello Kitty and stuff like that,” Kaaialii said. “It was a thing for new players to get a nickname, so my nickname ended up being PB and it stuck ever since.”