At high noon, the softball diamond can be a desolate desert for parched, wanting ace pitchers.
For Kalani and Kamehameha-Hawaii, tinges of desperation had more to do with their hurlers and the strike zone. The teams combined for 20 walks as the first Division II semifinal matchup of the DataHouse/HHSAA Softball State Championships became a test of patience. And inches.
Kamehameha-Hawaii’s wild 8-7 win puts the Warriors in position to play for its first state championship in softball. The BIIF champions (20-3) will play St. Francis on Friday at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.
Kamehameha-Hawaii 8, Kalani 7, final.
Wild bottom of the 7th. Kalani scores one run on a error, but P Brooke Baptiste puts out the fire as the Warriors advance to the Division II final. @HawaiiPrepWorld @KSHAthletics @KalaniFalcons @HHSAAsports pic.twitter.com/syvfqv4qaf
— Paul Honda (@PupulePaul) May 11, 2018
“It was a little bit nerve wracking. Kalani is a tough team and they played a great team. They made us fight,” Warriors coach ‘Akeamakamae Kiyuna said.
It came down to pitching, particularly from Brooke Baptiste, who went 2 1/3 innings in relief of starter Jessica Cameros. But it was no breeze for the fireballing right-hander. The game was a demo of what an air-tight strike zone is like. For Kalani ace Cherise Horita, the tight zone was a deterrence to her assortment of breaking balls. She wasn’t complaining — neither dugout was audibly vocal about it — but it clearly affected the game. The 20 walks also came with an anomaly: no wild pitches. That’s what happens when control pitchers can’t eke out any territory on the edges.
“It’s kind of limited what I could do as a pitcher. I got forced to throw more over the plate,” Horita said. “I couldn’t really throw my breaking pitches.”
Kiyuna and her staff needed poise and patience from their pitchers.
“I told them to trust their defense. At this level, they’ve got to trust that their defense will back them up. We had to make adjustments and put it more on the plate than they wanted to, but they showed they can knock it down and back each other up,” Kiyuna said.
In Kalani’s four-run fifth inning, three runs came home on bases-loaded walks. KS-Hawaii learned to milk the very consistent strike zone well before that, drawing seven walks in the first five innings against the normally stingy Horita. Her counterpart, Cameros, issued seven base on balls in 4 2/3 innings. Her replacement, Baptiste, walked in two batters with the bases loaded, but got through the sixth inning unscathed as the Warriors clung to a 7-6 lead.
The Warriors added an insurance run in the top of the seventh when Kawehi Ili reached base on a two-out infield single, then scored on a double to center by Dioni Lincoln.
Kalani almost pulled off a miracle comeback in the bottom of the seventh. Horita came home on a throwing error by the Warriors, and the Falcons had two runners on base, down one run. But Baptiste came through, getting Kylie Pagud on a come-backer, ending the game.
Kalani’s unbeaten run came to an end, and the OIA champion Falcons (15-1) will play for third place on Friday.
“Despite the outcome, I’m really proud of our team. They left everything out there,” Horita said. “They never gave up.”
|1||May 8||St. Francis vs. Kohala||StF, 10-0 (5)||McKinley|
|2||May 8||Aiea vs. Konawaena||Kona, 7-3||McKinley|
|3||May 8||Honokaa vs. Kaimuki||Hon, 11-8||McKinley|
|4||May 8||Waimea vs. Waialua||Waim, 15-5 (6)||McKinley|
|5*||May 9||Kohala vs. Aiea||Koh, 9-1||McKinley|
|6||May 9||(4) Molokai vs. St. Francis||StF, 13-1 (5)||McKinley|
|7||May 9||(2) KS-Hawaii vs. Honokaa||KSH, 11-1 (6)||McKinley|
|8||May 9||(3) Kalani vs. Waimea||Kaln, 6-3||McKinley|
|9||May 9||(1) Kapaa vs. Konawaena||Kona, 9-4||McKinley|
|10*||May 10||Kaimuki vs. Waialua||Wail, 6-5||McKinley|
|11*||May 10||Honokaa vs. Waimea||Waim, 5-3 (5)||McKinley|
|12*||May 10||Molokai vs. Kapaa||Kapaa, 11-2 (5)||McKinley|
|13||May 10||KS-Hawaii vs. Kalani||KSH, 8-7||Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium|
|14||May 10||St. Francis vs. Konawaena||StF, 8-7||Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium|
|15*||May 11||Kohala vs. Waialua||Koh, 11-4 (5)||Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium|
|16*||May 11||Waimea vs. Kapaa||Waim, 10-9 (3)||Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium|
|17*||May 11||Kalani vs. Konawaena||Kaln, 5-4||McKinley|
|18||May 11||KS-Hawaii vs. St. Francis||StF, 10-0 (5)||Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium|
|* — consolation|