The mood was not sparkly three weeks ago at Kamehameha’s softball field.
Even in the afterglow of a decisive victory over rival Punahou — a 12-1 TKO win in six innings — there was a pensive vibe. Ace pitcher Rayla Jacobs-Kea immediately got her shoulder wrapped in ice. She felt a soreness and ache in that pitching shoulder she said she had never felt before.
Was this the real deal for a Kamehameha squad that had begun the ILH season 2-0 with lopsided wins? How could this be fair for Jacobs-Kea, a senior getting her chance to be the pitching anchor for a team that could make a run to both the ILH and state titles?
Exactly three weeks passed by. Jacobs-Kea didn’t need an MRI, but she approached the rest and rehab fully. By Wednesday afternoon, she was back on the mound in relief. Kamehameha had won four of six games since her injury, but a 4-4 tie with ‘Iolani featured 11 walks by Warrior pitchers.
Coach James Millwood expected to switch Jacobs-Kea from right field to the mound somewhere in the middle of the game. But he couldn’t wait any more after their starting pitcher issued three walks early in the second inning.
Jacobs-Kea’s line: 6 innings, three hits, one unearned run, no strikeouts, two walks and one hit batter. The HBP was the first batter she faced. She also hit 2-for-2 with an RBI double and was hit by a pitch. All in all, a performance as close to perfect as could’ve been expected.
“I was a little nervous,” she said after Kamehameha’s 9-1 win.
Raiders coach Dean Yonamine saw his team drop to 5-2-1 as Kamehameha (6-1-1) seized sole possession of first place.
“You can’t afford to make a mistake against them,” Yonamine said. “Look at what Dallas (Millwood) did.”
The Raiders’ Aleia Agbayani and Marcie Nakamura had relative success early, combining to limit Millwood to a groundout, a walk and a strikeout. But Millwood finished with a double and a three-run home run that one of Kamehameha’s coaches measured (with an app) at 282 feet.
‘Iolani has four games left to make up the ground it lost on Wednesday. At stake: the regular-season winner claims an automatic state-tournament berth.
“We’ve just got to keep working,” Yonamine said. “We can’t look past anybody.”
For Kamehameha, the weeks of wondering whether their ace pitcher would recover to full strength are now full-blown optimism. In a low-key way, of course. Millwood rarely gets too high or low, and neither does his team.
“She came back really well,” he said.
Jacobs-Kea not only healed during the three weeks, she remained immersed.
“It was actually good. I got to learn more of the mental game,” the senior said. “There’s always room to get better.”