They are not robots, though their persistence and efficiency seem almost superhuman.
The Campbell Sabers are certainly fueled by legacy. Their route to the OIA Division I softball championship may have seemed like destiny. It is no coincidence that their 6-3 win over the hot Roosevelt Rough Riders on Saturday night at Tiger Softball Stadium has as much to do with the intricacy of execution on all levels as it did with tradition.
The stolen bases. The near-flawless defense. The ascension of pitcher Chloe Sales. Clutch hitting — and plate coverage — up and down the lineup. Against Roosevelt ace Jaeda Cabunoc, each Saber managed to get on base. When the Rough Riders made some headway and cut the lead to 3-1 in the top of the fifth inning, Alesia Ranches clutched up.
Ranches socked a home run to center in the bottom of the fifth, the first of three key runs that helped top-ranked Campbell stretch its lead over No. 5 Roosevelt.
“Alesia is hitting hot. I hope she continues it. She has the whole package,” coach Michael “Shag” Hermosura said.
Sales’ complete-game performance was about endurance as much has efficiency. She scattered nine hits, walked just one, and hit one batter.
“We tried to go further out. I knew she was laboring. She had one or two missed spots,” Hermosura said. “But she pulled through. She’s young, just a sophomore.”
Another key was a two-run, pinch-hit single by Liana Nakasone in the fifth. She was down 0-2 in the count before socking a single to center, scoring Chloe Domingo and Dyllan Sanay-Shiraishi.
“I was just trying to protect the outside part of the plate,” she said.
The Sabers have won the past three state championships, but winning the OIA proved more elusive. The league champions during Campbell’s state-tourney reign: Mililani (2015, ’17) and Kapolei (’16). Campbell hadn’t won its league since 2013, the last of a three-year OIA title streak.
“It’s feels good. It’s just one goal at a time,” Hermosura said.
David Perreira guided the Sabers to their first state title in 2010. Later, Hermosura became head coach. He and his veteran staff have consistently been able to build their Saber teams into better hitters, as much as any in the state, over the course of each season. On Saturday, they did something that few, if any, opposing hitters were able to do against Cabunoc, the stellar Roosevelt ace.
“We picked up the pitcher’s change-up,” Hermosura said.
The x-factor, though, remains the unpredictability of Hermosura’s maneuvers as he stands quietly in the third-base coach’s box. They stunned Roosevelt with three stolen bases in the first inning, which led to two runs.
“You’ve got to take a chance at times. We put the pressure on them,” he said.
The DataHouse/HHSAA State Softball Championships begin on May 8 at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.