Punahou softball wins its 10th in a row to take over ILH lead

In this 2019 ILH matchup, Punahou center fielder Tiani Wayton slid into home plate as the ball got away from 'Iolani catcher Kai Barrett in the Buffanblu's 10-4 win on Monday to take over sole possession of first place in the ILH. Photo by Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser (Apr. 1, 2019).

The spirit of a winning team can be complex.

Catcher Liana Heshiki knows this well, so she aims to be consistent on and off the field. Heshiki went 4-for-4 and drove in five runs as No. 2 Punahou extended its winning streak to 10 games on Monday, rallying past No. 4 ‘Iolani 10-4 at the Buffanblu’s middle field.

It was a bumpy ride, though, as the visiting Raiders scored four runs on four hits, with help from a Punahou error, in the top of the second inning. That gave ‘Iolani a 4-3 lead. Heshiki sensed a disturbance in the force, so to speak.

Buffanblu ace Ashanti Martinez, arguably the most consistent pitcher in the state, was not happy. Heshiki describes her job the way a therapist might work with a client. Or just two longtime friends having each other’s back.

“Ashanti’s mentality, we came in after the second inning. I can talk to her in a way, ‘Hey, fix your face.’ Me, as a catcher, that’s my job to show her that hey, we’re OK. If I’m OK, you’re going to do OK,” Heshiki said.

The Buffanblu did more than OK after that. Martinez endured struggles against ‘Iolani’s first hitters each inning, but still managed to keep the dangerous Raiders scoreless in those last five frames.

Heshiki wasn’t the only crusher at the plate. Three teammates paired hits as the Buffanblu accumulated 12 in all. Heshiki’s preparation for ‘Iolani ace Aleia Agbayani included some scouting via TV on Saturday.

“I was watching TV, when ‘Iolani played Mid-Pac. I found out she throws a change-up,” Heshiki said.

That carried over to Monday.

“I was looking fastball all the time, but in the back of my mind, I knew I had to focus in if she throws me a change-up. She threw me two,” said Heshiki, who turned one of them into a two-run single in the third inning as Punahou regained the lead for good.

Now the Buffanblu are atop the ILH standings at 10-2, while ‘Iolani is chasing at 9-3.

“It feels really good. We work hard so I know we earned it,” Heshiki said. “We’re not going to settle.”

At Punahou
‘Iolani (9-3) 040 000 0 — 4 6 3
Punahou (10-2) 304 201 x — 10 12 0
Aleia Agbayani, Ailana Agbayani (5) and Kai Barrett. Ashanti Martinez and Liana Hashiki. W—Martinez. L—Al. Agbayani.
Leading hitters—‘Iolani: Ailana Agbayani 1-4, RBI, run; Aleia Agbayani 1-4, RBI, double; Taylor Kai 1-3, run double. Punahou: Maya Matsubara 2-4, 3 runs, double; Tiani Wayton 2-3, 4 runs, RBI, BB, SB; Hashiki 4-4, 5 RBIs, run, double; Asia Lee 1-3, HR, 3 RBIs, run, SF; Martinez 2-4, RBI.

‘Iolani first baseman Kalena Markham beat the tag of Punahou catcher Liana Heshiki to score a run in the second inning. Photo by Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser.


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