Kenna Higa smacks 2 HRs as Kamehameha pulls away for 10-4 win over ‘Iolani

Keila Kamoku, right, welcomes Kenna Higa home after Higa powered a two-run home run in the bottom of the second inning. That gave Kamehameha a 6-2 lead over ‘Iolani. Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser (Apr. 7, 2021).

Kenna Higa blasted two home runs as Kamehameha overpowered ‘Iolani, 10-4, on Wednesday afternoon at the Warriors’ field.

Kamehameha improved to 3-0 in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu. Pitcher Madison Rabe went the distance, scattering six hits with the support of an error-free defense.

“I think our girls did a good job of battling. We definitely see a few things we have to work on, but they stayed in there. They stayed consistent,” Kamehameha Coach Leo Sing Chow said. “I know that ‘Iolani is going to keep on picking, keep on pushing. We don’t count ‘Iolani out. We had to stay focused the whole time.”

Higa socked a two-run homer in the second inning and a solo shot in the fifth that was almost corralled by center fielder Kaylee Matsuda. The ball tumbled from her glove as she fell on the fence netting, landing beyond the 200-foot boundary for the four-bagger.

“I was just looking to be aggressive. At first, I wasn’t as aggressive at the plate and it didn’t turn out as what I wanted. So today, I thought I would be aggressive and wait for my pitches,” Higa said. “Also, change up my timing. Staying back longer.”

Kenna Higa belted two home runs for Kamehameha in a 10-4 win over ‘Iolani on Wednesday. Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser (Apr. 7, 2021).

The Warriors also got home runs from catcher Nikki Donahue and shortstop Keila Kamoku to finish with four taters as a team.

“I toned it down and got myself together, and I made the pitcher pitch to me. I took my pitches, fouled off what I could and I ended up getting hits in the end,” said Kamoku, a signee with Ole Miss.

Rabe struck out three and walked five.

“I really wanted to beat ‘Iolani because we lost to them last year. I was throwing mostly my screw and my curve,” she said.

Sing Chow, a former standout pitcher at Kamehameha and UH-Hilo, saw Rabe collect her second win.

“She just does her thing, has her routine, stays focused. It’s just a matter of sometimes settling them down. She did well,” Sing Chow said.

Rabe and senior Haley Lyman alternate starts on the mound, providing rare depth at the position.

The visiting Raiders got off to a quick start against Rabe with two runs in the top of the first. Rabe walked leadoff hitter Kennadie Tsue and Ailana Agbayani. They advanced on a double steal, and when Matsuda sent a deep ball to center, Tsue and Agbayani raced home to score on a rare two-RBI sacrifice fly.

The home team reached ‘Iolani starting pitcher Carly Izuo for three runs in the bottom of the first to take the lead. Izuo walked leadoff batter Haley Agena and Kamoku. After Higa flew out, Donahue launched her home run to center for a 3-2 Warriors lead.

Rabe recorded two strikeouts in the top of the second, and in the bottom of the frame, Kamehameha added three more runs. With one out, Agena drilled a full-count pitch to left for a double. She advanced to third base on a wild pitch and scored when Kamoku flared a single over first base for a 4-2 lead.

After Kamoku stole second, Higa then followed with a Ruthian shot over the center field fence to open the Warriors’ margin to four runs.

“We practice all parts of the plate, so I try to remember what happens at practice and take that momentum into the game,” Higa said. “I think it was outside. I tried to time that one and I guess it went my way.”

Agbayani then shifted from shortstop to the mound for ‘Iolani. She put out the fire in the second and went on to 2 2-3 innings of scoreless relief.

The junior also homered off Rabe to lead off the top of the third inning, slicing Kamehameha’s lead to 6-3.

In the top of the fourth, Keely Kai and Brooklyn Alejo singled and moved to third and second bases on a wild pitch. After Izuo grounded out, Milla Fukuda’s bunt single brought Kai home, cutting the deficit to two runs.

The Raiders got no closer, however. Fukuda was called out for leaving first base too early and Tsue’s deep fly to left was hauled in for the third out.

In the bottom of the fourth, Kamehameha had runners at third and second bases, but were called for the same violation as ‘Iolani. Higa, on third base, left too early on a fly ball to right by Destiny Lum and was called out when the Raiders threw the ball back to third.

The Raiders missed a chance to score again in the top of fifth. Agbayani doubled and stole third base, but was stranded.

The Warriors then came up with four runs in the bottom of the fifth, all with two outs. Kainani Jacang singled and advanced to second base on a wild pitch by the Raiders’ third pitcher, Kiara Baba.

Agena’s single to left brought Jacang home for a 7-4 Kamehameha cushion, though the catcher, Alejo, said she made the tag.

Kainani Jacang is ruled safe at home plate ahead of the tag by ‘Iolani catcher Brooklyn Alejo, giving Kamehameha a 7-4 lead with two outs. Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser (Apr. 7, 2021).

Kamoku then followed with an opposite-field home run to right, opening the lead to five runs.

“That pitch was outside. I saw it and I was like, OK, I might as well just take a hack. I’m not going to get anything better. All they give me is outside and change-ups. I take what I can get from the pitcher.”

Higa then stepped into the box and delivered her second homer. Rabe then retired nine of the final 11 ‘Iolani batters for the complete-game win.

“I think it was a change-up, but I could be wrong. It was like right on the line,” Higa said of the pitch, which was on the outside edge of the plate. “It definitely helps when you have a great team behind you. We just hope to take this momentum into the next game.”

The first four batters in Kamehameha’s lineup hit 10-for-14 with all 10 RBI and nine runs scored. The rest of the lineup was 2-for-16.

The Warriors travel to Mid-Pacific on Saturday, 10 a.m. The Raiders visit Punahou on Saturday, 2 p.m. With all ILH games streaming online, players and coaches are taking advantage of their technology.

“I know Mid-Pac, they have a decent defense. I think they’re bats, they’re consistent hitting the gaps, and ‘Iolani, too,” said Kamoku, who watched the most recent MPI game online.

Rabe is expecting the Owls, who lost a close game to Maryknoll on Wednesday, to be at peak form.

“When we play them, they’re going to have their best pitcher. I heard that she’s pretty good and she’ll put up a good fight,” Rabe said.

At Kamehameha
‘Iolani (1-1) 201 100 0 — 4 6 1
Kamehameha (3-0) 330 040 x — 10 11 0
Carly Izuo, Ailana Agbayani (2), Kiara Baba (5) and Brooklyn Alejo. Madison Rabe and Nikki Donahue. W—Rabe. L—Izuo.
Leading hitters—‘Iolani: Agbayani 2-3, HR, double, RBI, 2 runs, 2 SB; Milla Fukuda 1-3, RBI. Kamehameha: Haley Agena 2-3, double, RBI, 2 runs, walk, SB; Keila Kamoku 2-3, HR, 3 RBI, 3 runs, SB; Kenna Higa 3-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 runs; Donahue 3-4, HR, 2 doubles, 3 RBI, run.


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