Campbell, Roosevelt meet for OIA softball title

Roosevelt pitcher Jaeda Cabunoc pitched the Rough Riders to their second straight regular season crown in the OIA East and now has the Rough Riders in the OIA Division I championship game against Campbell. Photo by Steven Erler/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

Even in the midst of a run of three consecutive state championships, the OIA title has proven elusive for the Campbell softball program.

The Sabers have capped each of the last three seasons with a celebration following the state tournament final at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium, but not since 2013 has Campbell entered states as the OIA champion.

Roosevelt’s OIA title drought stretches back to 2009 as the league’s power structure shifted heavily out West since.

The Sabers and Rough Riders earned opportunities at a breakthrough title by winning their semifinal matchups on Friday at McKinley. Both games ended with walk-off singles — though in widely divergent circumstances.

No. 5 Roosevelt overcame a 5-0 deficit before Mika Emoto’s single in the bottom of the seventh scored Mari Foster from second to give the Rough Riders a 6-5 win over No. 2 Leilehua.

In the second semifinal  No. 1 Campbell stormed out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning against No. 3 Kapolei and rolled to an 11-1 victory. Dyllan Sanay-Shiraishi hit a two-run homer in the first inning, Alesia Ranches drove in four runs and Zoie Recolan’s RBI single in the bottom of the fifth brought the 10-run rule into effect.

Campbell and Roosevelt meet for the OIA Division I title at 7 p.m. Saturday at McKinley.

“We haven’t faced Roosevelt, but we’ve watched a lot of games that they’ve played,” Campbell coach Michael Hermosura said. “They’re a good hitting ballclub, good defensive ballclub and they have a good pitcher.”

Roosevelt’s Jaeda Cabunoc gave up eight hits though five innings against Leilehua and the Mules — who had outscored their previous three opponents 32-0 — took command with a four-run fifth inning to take a 5-0 lead.

But the Rough Rider offense answered with a five-run bottom of the fifth with Kylie Kawamura delivering a two-run single and Kani Pitoy tying the game with a three-run double.

Cabunoc then silenced the Mules in the sixth and seventh on 18 pitches, 17 for strikes.

“She always has that one rough inning,” Roosevelt coach Kris Fujii-Dias said. “But the good thing is she never gave up, she never hung her head, she came back stronger.”

Foster doubled with one out in the bottom of the seventh and Emoto fell behind two strikes before flaring a single to right field to score Foster with the winning run.

“I was late on the first few pitches and just had to foul stuff off because I didn’t like it,” Emoto said. “You cant really tell yourself what to do in that situation. You have to go with your gut.”

Campbell had no such drama in its semifinal. Trinity Favela led off the game with a sharp single up the middle and scored on Chloe Domingo’s two-out double. Sanay Shiraishi followed with her homer to give the Sabers a 3-0 lead against Kapolei ace Ciara Bartolotti.

“That was very big,” Hermosura said of the fast start. “Facing a pitcher like that and hitting her the way we did tonight built a lot of confidence.”

Ranches delivered a two-run double in the second and a two-run triple in the fifth after Michaela Fonoti led off the inning with a home run to center.

Sophomore Chloe Sales didn’t need much run support while holding the Hurricanes to one hit, albeit a homer by Lili Kaimi Montira to lead off the fourth inning.

She had one strikeout and got the remaining 14 outs on grounders to the infield. Favela, the Sabers second baseman, flawlessly fielded eight chances and Sales handled three herself.

“She’s not right now a big strikeout pitcher,” Hermosura said. “We get a lot of flyouts, a lot of ground balls, as long as she stays within herself.”

Hermosura left McKinley impressed with Roosevelt and heartened by a meeting with longtime Rough Rider coach Clay Okamura, who has been out this season while dealing with an illness.

Okamura attended Roosevelt’s last two games and met with the team after the Rough Riders’ win.

“Being down 5-0 and coming back to win the game that shows a lot of character on that team,” Hermosura said.

“That program has grown an lot and I just hope Clay can get back on the field again. He was sick for a very long time and I talked to him today and I miss the guy. He and I are good friends. But Roosevelt is going to be tough to beat tomorrow.”


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