Misha Carreira made the most of her first and last opportunity to start an OIA championship game.
The Mililani right-hander had backed up durable All-State pitcher Aubree Kim since her sophomore year, but stepped to the forefront with the Trojans pitching staff when Kim completed her high school career last spring.
With Kim now pitching for Santa Clara, the Trojans finished second in the hyper-competitive OIA West at 9-3, a half game behind top-ranked Pearl City, after falling to the Chargers 8-7 on April 15 in their regular-season finale.
Carreira threw all 21 innings for Mililani in a rain-delayed OIA tournament and celebrated in the circle after a called third strike punctuated a 3-1 win in a rematch with Pearl City on Tuesday to capture the program’s 11th league championship.
“I think it’s good we lost our three games during the regular season,” Carreira said amid the postgame celebration, “because it helped us become stronger and helped us realize we cannot sit back because its anybody’s game this year.”
The win gave Mililani its third OIA championship in the last four years after falling to Kapolei in last year’s final.
“It’s huge for the seniors this year,” Mililani coach Rose Antonio said. “We lost it last year and for them to go out as OIA champions that’s pretty wonderful for them.”
Of course, the Trojans aren’t quite done yet.
Mililani will have the OIA’s seeded berth and a first-round bye in next week’s Division I state tournament, leading a contingent of five OIA West teams in the 12-team field. Roosevelt is the lone representative from the OIA East in the state tournament, joining Mililani, Pearl City, Campbell, Kapolei and Leilehua.
Carreira gave up eight hits and walked five in Tuesday’s win and was backed up by a Mililani defense that turned three inning-ending double plays, most notably in the fifth and sixth innings to snuff potential Pearl City rallies.
“We work on that 30 minutes at practice,” Carreira said. “Half an hour we go and go so it really paid off.”
Shortstop Tarah Aniya started a double play to end the bottom of the first and the Trojans took advantage of two Pearl City errors in the top of the second to piece together a three-run rally.
An error with the bases loaded allowed the first run to score, Maya Yoshiura singled in another run and Merilis Rivera was hit on the wrist to force in the Trojans’ third run.
After throwing 43 pitches to get out of the second inning, Pearl City ace Tyanna “Peanut Butter” Kaaialii — coming off a nine-inning no-hitter against Campbell on Monday — tossed 67 over the next five innings while allowing just two more Trojans to reach base.
“This type of game you need to score early and often,” Antonio said. “We only had one inning to score, I thought that wasn’t enough.”
Pearl City got one back in the fourth when Hailey-Alexis Yamaguchi doubled and Kaaialii followed with a sharp single up the middle to score courtesy runner Tiana Akau.
Catcher Markie Okamoto threw out a runner attempting to steal to help limit the damage later in the inning and the Chargers threatened again with runners on first and third with one out in the fifth. But a grounder to Yoshiura started a 4-6-3 double play and Rivera fielded a chopper to start a 5-4-3 double play to end the sixth.
“I just told myself to relax because I know my defense got my back,” Carreira said. “So I tried to take deep breaths and calm down.”
Carreira posted two of her three strikeouts in the seventh, working around a two-out double, to secure Mililani’s 11th OIA title while denying Pearl City its first since 1979.
“I give her all the credit,” said Rivera, a University of Hawaii signee. “She worked really hard and for her to pitch those three outs, it was amazing. I’ve never been so proud of an individual. She kept her head up, she focused, she was relaxed. I giver her all the credit.”
The four-day DataHouse/HHSAA Softball State Championship opens May 3 at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.
Mililani’s OIA championship victories under Rose Antonio
2007: 4-2 vs. Campbell (winning pitcher Makani Duhaylonsod)
2008: 4-3 vs. Campbell (Makani Duhaylonsod)
2010: 20-2 vs. Castle (Alysia Madison)
2014: 9-7 vs. Waianae (Aubree Kim)
2015 4-3 vs. Campbell (Aubree Kim)
2017: 3-1 vs. Pearl City (Misha Carreira)
Mililani 3, Pearl City 1 final. Trojans win the program's 11th OIA softball championship. pic.twitter.com/7fNLfVvq0p
— Jason Kaneshiro (@jasonkaneshiro) April 26, 2017