First-year Leilehua softball coach Wendell Au has a list of five goals he asks of his team in any game.
“It’s simple goals. It’s five goals that will continually win games,” said Au, a 1992 Leilehua graduate and seven-year assistant with Mules softball. “Make good choices baserunning, quality at-bats, no errors, pitchers hit the spot and we just out-hustle a team. And that five things can win a ballgame.”
He’s yet to have a “perfect” game for those criteria, but his Mules came close on Thursday. They dominated OIA West rival Mililani to the tune of 13-0 in a five-inning semifinal of the DateHouse/HHSAA Softball Championships at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.
It sets up a potential first softball championship for Leilehua, if the Mules can stay hot for one more game. They meet Punahou on Friday at 7 p.m.
The last time Leilehua played for a state softball championship was 1988, a loss to Kailua. Wahiawa’s team is 0-3 in state championship games, and before Thursday, it lost its last three semifinal appearances.
Kamryn Kamakaiwi tossed a two-hitter with no walks in five dominant innings, Alyssa Asuncion went 3-for-3 and drove in five runs.
“It was mostly the girls behind me,” Kamakaiwi said of what worked, aside from her changeup and screwball.
“Our team, how close we are together, this is more of a family-oriented team,” she added. “So, no matter on the bench or on the field, we know our role and we know how to support each other.”
As good as his team was Thursday, Au’s mind tracked to his team’s lone error (a wide throw from shortstop to first base in the bottom of the first) right afterward.
“One E is one run, and we can lose a game 1-0. It’s as simple as that,” he said. “Especially in this caliber (situation), at this point. This is the cream of the crop right now.”
Leilehua (14-4) blew Thursday’s rivalry game wide open with a nine-run third inning, during which Asuncion launched a three-run bomb over the centerfield fence. The Mules sent 14 batters to the plate in the frame and tallied eight of their 14 hits.
“It was a 3-2 count and I was expecting it to be a strike, and it just went,” Asuncion said of her second homer of the season.
Katie Carlos (fourth inning) and Kayla Bello (fifth) singled as the only hits for the Trojans (9-10). Meanwhile, Kaena Nistal, Brandi Leong and Gwen Maeha each drove in a pair for the Mules.
“Leilehua, they came out hot, they came out swinging the bats,” Mililani coach Rose Antonio said. “They’re a great team over there, one of the top teams in the state. They have all the tools.”
Mililani upset Leilehua 5-3 in the teams’ first meeting March 10. Leilehua responded with an 11-0, five-inning win on April 17, just prior to the OIA tournament, in which Leilehua finished third.
“Definitely,” Antonio said of improvement on Leilehua’s part. “They’re more disciplined at the plate. They’re hitting their pitch that they want to hit. The pitching, they keep batters off balance and that’s what you need. They’ve got three good pitchers over there, three or four.”
Offensively, they’ve been just as good. So far, no one in the state tournament has been able to contain the Mules to single digits. Cheyenne Ardona took the brunt of it Thursday, giving up eight runs in two innings (four earned).
Leilehua got its tournament started Tuesday with a 12-1 rout of Baldwin. It followed that up by topping topping ILH champion Maryknoll 10-5 in Wednesday’s quarterfinals behind a huge game from Nistal.
|1||May 8||Kealakehe vs. Pearl City||PC, 19-4 (5)||Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium|
|2||May 8||Baldwin vs. Leilehua||Lei, 12-1 (5)||Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium|
|3||May 8||Roosevelt vs. Mililani||Mil, 6-1||Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium|
|4||May 8||Punahou vs. Kapolei||Pun, 10-2||Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium|
|5*||May 9||Baldwin vs. Roosevelt||Roos, 20-1 (4)||Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium|
|6||May 9||(4) Lahainaluna vs. Punahou||Pun, 10-4||Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium|
|7||May 9||(3) Waiakea vs. Mililani||Mil, 4-3||Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium|
|8||May 9||(2) Maryknoll vs. Leilehua||Lei, 10-5||Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium|
|9||May 9||(1) Campbell vs. Pearl City||Camp, 10-7||Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium|
|10*||May 10||Kealakehe vs. Kapolei||Kapo, 7-0||Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium|
|11*||May 10||Pearl City vs. Lahainaluna||PC, 12-8||McKinley|
|12*||May 10||Maryknoll vs. Waiakea||Mryk, 12-0 (6)||McKinley|
|13||May 10||Leilehua vs. Mililani||Lei, 13-0 (5)||Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium|
|14||May 10||Campbell vs. Punahou||Pun, 11-3||Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium|
|15*||May 11||Roosevelt vs. Kapolei||Roos, 4-2||McKinley|
|16*||May 11||Pearl City vs. Maryknoll||Tie, 1-1 (5)||McKinley|
|17*||May 11||Campbell vs. Mililani||Mil, 2-0||McKinley|
|18||May 11||Punahou vs. Leilehua||Lei, 14-4 (6)||Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium|
|* — consolation|