‘Iolani poised to make a run in tournament dominated by offense

'Iolani greeted Ailana Agbayani (1) at the plate, who scored on a three-run homer by sister Aleia Agbayani, who was trailing right behind her circling the bases. Photo by Dennis Oda/Star-Advertiser.

After watching Baldwin rack up 17 hits in a 10-2 win over Maryknoll to open the Datahouse/HHSAA Softball State Championships, ‘Iolani and Waianae waged an offensive battle that looks like it will be the norm for the entire four-day tournament.

Both teams were held scoreless in an inning only once with the Raiders pulling out an 11-10 victory on Wednesday to advance to the quarterfinals against BIIF champion Kealakehe today at Noon at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.

Even with a wind blowing right-to-left that messed with quite a few outfielders in the first two games, offense was still at a premium.

‘Iolani’s Aleia Agbayani, a senior, finished 3-for-3 with a triple, homer and five RBIs to make up for allowing five runs in 2 1/3 innings on the mound.

Her sister, freshman Ailana Agbayani, went 3-for-4 with a triple and three runs scored and provided enough pitching to earn the win in relief, striking out eight in 4 2/3 innings.

“It was a real battle today,” ‘Iolani coach Benny Agbayani said. “(Ailana and Aleia) know they are a big part of this team but you’re never going to win if you don’t have a team. ‘Iolani always emphasizes “One Team” and I told the girls that when we started and that’s why we’re here.”

The Raiders (16-5), ranked third in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser Top 10, won their first game in the state tournament since 2009 when they were the No. 1 seed and advanced to the semifinals.

The Seariders (9-8), ranked as high as No. 2 in the state this year, kept pace the entire game, scoring in six of the seven innings they came to bat.

Xailey Kamealoha’s two-run homer in the top of the seventh cut the deficit to 11-10 with nobody out. Paiaala Wilcox-Molina drew a walk and Vena Palenapa reached on a two-out error to put the tying run on third.

Lei Kapihe, who scored twice earlier in the game as a courtesy runner, nearly tied the game on a flare to right that went foul by inches before Ailana Agbayani got her eighth strikeout to end it.

“Waianae is a good team. You can’t sleep on them,” Benny Agbayani said.

Ailana Agbayani, playing for the first time at UH’s home field, was called on in relief of Aleia after a bases-loaded walk in the third inning cut ‘Iolani’s lead to 6-5. Ailana Agbayani struck out the first four batters she faced and did enough to earn the win.

“The umpire was squeezing the strike zone so I was getting a little frustrated, but I wanted this game and I decided to push through it and tried to just go with what the umpires called,” Ailana said.

Ailana was standing on first base after her third hit of the game in the fifth inning when Aleia blasted a three-run homer to dead center that challenged the top of the net guarding the courts behind the outfield fence to give ‘Iolani a lead it wouldn’t give up.

“I had confidence that she was going to score Maya (Ichimura) and me,” Ailana said.

Aleia’s two-out homer came on a 3-1 pitch with runners on first and third. She never thought for a moment that Waianae might pitch around her.

“I took the opportunity and went for it,” Aleia said. “I swung at the first pitch and then I ended up getting back into a (hitters) count and I’m thinking if I see a strike I’m swinging.”

Kailyn Barrett added a two-run homer and drove in three runs for ‘Iolani.

The two teams combined to hit three homers and nine extra-base hits total.

Leilehua and Kapolei, which played in the game after, laughed at those offensive totals. The Mules and Hurricanes combined to score 11 runs in the first inning alone and hit seven homers combined in the first four innings.


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