On the same day U.S. News and World Report rated Roosevelt above Mililani as the best public high school in the state, Mililani made a statement on the diamond with a 9-2 win over Roosevelt in the OIA softball semifinals at McKinley Softball Stadium.
The Lady Trojans’ seven-run surge in the top of the seventh inning broke open what had been a sensible defensive battle between two solid pitchers: Mililani’s Misha Carreira and Roosevelt’s Jaeda Cabunoc. Through six innings, Cabunoc allowed just two runs on four hits with two strikeouts, one walk and two hit batters. It was enough to keep her team in the game and in the hunt for its first OIA Division I softball title since 2009.
Instead, Cabunoc started to miss the zone, by an inch or two. Millimeters. The pinpoint accuracy was only a smidgen off target, but Mililani’s hitting machine sensed the opportunity. Still, she nearly got out of the jam. After pinch hitter Katie Carlos singled and went to second on a sacrifice bunt, there were two outs in that top of the seventh. It was still 2-all. Then Maya Yoshimura grounded a single through the hole to left, scoring Carlos for the go-ahead run. The might have been enough, but who knew?
For Carlos, the question often comes up: Are you related to Keiki Carlos? Keiki is a former All-State pitcher of the year from Mid-Pacific.
“I always hear that question, but I’m not. I would love to be related to her,” said Katie, who seems happy in her role as a pinch hitter. “I like it. I try to contribute however I can. Throughout the game, I tell myself the coaches could call any of us. I was just looking for a solid hit, not to hit it over the fence,” Carlos said. “My teammates told me (Cabunoc) is really consistent with inside pitches.”
The Trojans, as always, have a killer instinct. What followed the go-ahead run was truly unexpected: a pair of three-run bombs. The first was by catcher Markie Okamoto. After Yoshimura’s base hit and Merilis “Mama” Rivera’s double, Cabunoc worked carefully on Okamoto, Mililani’s cleanup hitter. The count was 1-1 when her drop pitch barely missed the strike zone. The next pitch was sent high and deep over the center-field fence, and the Trojan bench erupted in celebration.
Moments later, after Shannon Pascua-Stanton and Tracie Okamura singled, Taylor Schmerbauch blasted her 3-run homer over center field.
Not long after the game, Okamoto was trodding her gear toward the exit, both shoulders wrapped firmly with ice. It’s been a long, draining season, but her team — and her ace, Carreira — is peaking in every possible way. She managed to smile for a quick photo, but within seconds she couldn’t hold it in any more. The tears spilled waterfall style.
“I know there were angels in the outfield,” she said.
Monday was the birthday of her great-grandmother, Ellen, who passed away years ago. Then, four years ago, her great-grandfather, Leonard, died on Ellen’s birthday.
“I know they’re both watching over me,” Okamoto said.