Campbell head coach Michael Hermosura was watching the late game with keen interest Thursday night at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.
In the early game, Hermosura’s Sabers rallied from a one-run deficit to beat Mililani 5-2 in the Division I softball state semifinals.
Later on, sitting on the first-base side, he watched Kapolei — the only team to beat Campbell (17-1) this season (in the OIA championship game) — successfully rally to squash Pearl City’s upset hopes, 6-5.
Now, the Sabers’ biggest rivals this season — the Hurricanes (15-3) — are right where they want them … in the championship game.
“They’re peaking at the right time and they’re a tough team to beat,” Hermosura said about Kapolei. “Sadie (Kapaku-You) is a great pitcher, and we’re going to have to bring our game out there tomorrow. (Head coach) Tony Saffery has his girls well-coached and they executed what they wanted, the bunt situations.”
Campbell cleanup hitter Elisa Favela — the Sabers’ designated player — appears to be wanting to reprise the hero role she played so well en route to the state championship as well as the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s player of the year selection a year ago. Favela hit a two-run homer to give Campbell the lead for good in Thursday’s semifinal win over Mililani.
Dani Cervantes, who has taken over for Favela as the team’s No. 1 pitcher, struck out nine and didn’t walk a batter against Mililani.
“I’m so excited,” Cervantes said. “We gotta keep staying humble and go out there and play hard tomorrow.”
According to Hermosura, Favela has accepted her new role. A year ago, she was the team’s top pitcher and took them all the way with her bat as well as her arm.
“She’s concentrating on just hitting now, but if we need her in the circle, she’s going in the circle,” the coach said.
“The team wants it real bad now after losing the OIA. It was a good loss for us. At least now they understand that we’re beatable. We’re not unbeatable. Our kids have been working hard to get to this point and they deserve to be here right now.”
Campbell’s lineup has been feared all season by all opponents. It also includes big bangers Jocelyn Alo and Cydney Curran. Curran’s two-run shot gave the Sabers some insurance against the Trojans.
Mililani pitcher Aubree Kim knows all about that Campbell lineup.
“I think I made a couple of mistakes and they took advantage of it because they’re such a powerful hitting team, one through nine,” she said. “One mistake is going to cost you and I gave up two home run pitches that could have been a lot better.”
Pearl City’s Tyanna Kaaialii nearly pitched Pearl City into the final. At one point, Pearl City was 6-6 and it entered the tournament with an 8-8 mark. A dangerous team that came oh-so-close. The Chargers, too, were peaking at the right time. They never figured out how to avoid self-destructing, though.