This much is certain, the OIA Division I softball title will remain in the west for a seventh consecutive year.
Whether it stays in Mililani for a third straight season or heads down to Kapolei for the first time since 2005, well, that figures to be a toss-up.
The Trojans and Hurricanes split their regular season matchups in tight contests and meet for a third time on Saturday with the OIA Division I title at stake.
Mililani will attempt to capture its third straight OIA crown against a Kapolei team surging in confidence in the D-I final scheduled for 7 p.m. at McKinley. The game will be preceded by the Division II final between Nanakuli and Aiea at 5 p.m.
Mililani and Kapolei both went 9-3 in the OIA West’s regular season, dropping two games each against division champ Campbell and splitting their meetings against each other. Mililani won the first game 3-2 on March 19 and Kapolei claimed the rematch 2-0 on April 14.
“I love our battles (with) Mililani and Campbell,” Kapolei coach Tony Saffery said. “They just bring the best out of us.”
Kapolei was the OIA West’s third seed in the playoff bracket and breezed through the first two rounds by a combined score of 26-4. The Hurricanes then earned a shot at the program’s first OIA title since ’05 by knocking off previously undefeated Campbell 5-4 in Friday’s first semifinal at McKinley.
The Hurricanes jumped out to a 5-1 lead and held off a Campbell rally behind a complete-game performance by Sadie Kapaku-You, who also drove in two runs for the Hurricanes.
Mililani then joined the Hurricanes in the final with a 6-0 win over Pearl City. Trojan senior Aubree Kim held the Chargers to three hits and struck out nine in the shutout.
“I think Kapolei is the hottest team right now,” Kim said. “Every time I watch them it seems they’re getting better and better.”
Kim, a Santa Clara signee, is in her fourth season on the varsity and is accustomed to pitching in the postseason spotlight as a mainstay in the circle through two OIA title runs and a state championship in 2014.
“I’ve been in pressure situations a lot and I think that helps because of the experience, you learn a lot from it,” she said.
Both the Kapolei and Mililani offenses struck early in their semifinal wins on Friday. Kapolei opened its game with three consecutive hits against Campbell’s Elisa Favela to take a 2-0 lead and bunched four straight hits in a two-run sixth inning.
Campbell rallied for two runs in the bottom of the sixth and closed to within a run on Jocelyn Alo’s two-out homer in the bottom of the seventh. The Sabers put the tying run on base but Kapaku-You ended the drama with her 14th groundball out of the game.
“We work on trying to keep the ball low,” Saffery said. “She did keep it down and we got the bounces, the majority of them, to go our way.”
Mililani also scored twice in the first inning against Pearl City’s Tyanna Kaaialii, who threw 11 of 12 innings in the Chargers’ back-to-back no-hitters against Moanalua and Kaiser.
While Kim stifled the Chargers offense, the Trojans pulled away with a four-run sixth inning with Merilas Rivera and Tristan Cozo delivering RBI singles.
“It’s always the goal to make it to the championship game and we’ll try our best,” Mililani coach Rose Antonio said. “Tomorrow’s going to be a good game. Kapolei’s good, they’re a hot team right now.”