It was a scary moment out at Sand Island.
Mid-Pacific, the upstart team that went 0-12 in the ILH regular season and improbably advanced to the final of the ILH playoffs, had barely settled in against Maryknoll before things went awry in what would become a 10-2 loss.
Owls sophomore pitcher Lea Hanawahine had allowed three runs in the first inning and the Spartans got their leadoff batter on base in the second. After Sydney Kamakaiwi struck out bunting foul, Kanoe Tanigawa stepped into the batter’s box.
Hanawahine’s first pitch to Tanigawa, the No. 1 hitter in the lineup, was returned in an instant.
The comebacker impacted against Hanawahine’s body and the softball dropped and rolled a few feet. After a grimace and a moment’s hesitation, Hanawahine had the wherewithal to snag the ball and fire it to first baseman Skylar Tanaka for the out.
But then Hanawahine clutched her side and staggered over toward the third-base line. She collapsed on her back and it seemed to take a moment for everyone to realize she needed assistance.
“Lea, our pitcher, she really showed toughness,” MPI coach Aloha Yamaguchi said. “It was a hard hit, a line drive right off the bat. Knowing it was a good hard hit, but the way she still picked up the ball and made the out, it showed the toughness in her. I think her reaction was a little bit (worrisome) when we came out to see if she was all right.”
The MPI athletic trainer and coaches came out to attend to her. After a few moments, to their relief, Hanawahine and teammates began to laugh. A minute or two more and the pitcher was back on her feet and walking back to the circle gingerly. After a few Hanawahine warmup throws, the umpires gave the OK to resume play.
Hanawahine then gave up a RBI single to Kamalei Labasan on her first pitch, making it 4-0 Spartans. But she stayed in the game even after the lead grew to 7-0 in the third inning and the final eight-run margin in the sixth.
For the Owls, who upset Punahou and ‘Iolani in a three-day span last week, having Hanawahine go the distance symbolized something.
“Right. And that’s something that we’re trying to build in them as a program, the toughness,” Yamaguchi said. “Not only physical, but the mental part of the game. Just any type of toughness. They really showed that with Lea getting that out after (the ball) hitting her. Or our team able to keep battling after the rough season that we had, it shows a lot of toughness they’re building within themselves as well as within our team and our program.”
Mid-Pacific has three seniors departing — catcher Lia Nakamoto, outfielder Sierra Tarada and middle infielder Beyli Correa.
“It’s great to see we’re gonna get a bunch back,” Yamaguchi said. “Hopefully the future will stay on a high note coming up.”
Maryknoll earned the ILH’s second berth to the HHSAA tournament and faces Kamehameha for the overall ILH title at 4 p.m. Friday at Sand Island.