Baptiste hurls KS-Hawaii to win over Kalani

KS-Hawaii survived to beat Kalani 8-7 and will play for its first state softball championship Friday against St. Francis. Photo by Jerry Campany/Star-Advertiser.

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.

“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.”

Division II

Game #DateMatchupTime/ScoresSite
1May 8St. Francis vs. KohalaStF, 10-0 (5)McKinley
2May 8Aiea vs. KonawaenaKona, 7-3McKinley
3May 8Honokaa vs. KaimukiHon, 11-8McKinley
4May 8Waimea vs. WaialuaWaim, 15-5 (6)McKinley
5*May 9Kohala vs. AieaKoh, 9-1McKinley
6May 9(4) Molokai vs. St. FrancisStF, 13-1 (5)McKinley
7May 9(2) KS-Hawaii vs. HonokaaKSH, 11-1 (6)McKinley
8May 9(3) Kalani vs. WaimeaKaln, 6-3McKinley
9May 9(1) Kapaa vs. KonawaenaKona, 9-4McKinley
10*May 10Kaimuki vs. WaialuaWail, 6-5McKinley
11*May 10Honokaa vs. WaimeaWaim, 5-3 (5)McKinley
12*May 10Molokai vs. KapaaKapaa, 11-2 (5)McKinley
13May 10KS-Hawaii vs. KalaniKSH, 8-7Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium
14May 10St. Francis vs. KonawaenaStF, 8-7Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium
15*May 11Kohala vs. WaialuaKoh, 11-4 (5)Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium
16*May 11Waimea vs. KapaaWaim, 10-9 (3)Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium
17*May 11Kalani vs. KonawaenaKaln, 5-4McKinley
18May 11KS-Hawaii vs. St. FrancisStF, 10-0 (5)Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium
* — consolation


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