Athletically speaking, Lauryn Wee‘s catch was the play of the game Tuesday at the Lincoln Elementary School softball field.
It came in a losing cause, however.
On the scoreboard, Kanilehua Pitoy‘s inside-the-park, walk-off homer in the bottom of the seventh that gave Roosevelt a 2-1 victory over Kaiser gets the nod as the play of the game.
Things were still scoreless in the third inning when the third-ranked Rough Riders’ Maya Nakamura hit a deep drive that looked to be going over Wee’s head. Wee kept running out at full speed, lifted her left arm over her shoulder and the ball safely nestled into her glove.
The only way to describe it to get the real impact is that it was reminiscent of, although not exactly like, Willie Mays‘ most famous highlight-reel catch. It just happened to occur at a much lower ball level than the major leagues.
Here are five reactions to that play, including two from each team:
>> Precious Aholelei, Kaiser catcher: “I was shocked. I didn’t know she would be able to get it. But the way she tracked it was really good.”
>> Mitchell Matsumoto, Kaiser coach: Lauryn’s a senior and she’s been doing that (strong defense) all year long.”
>> Pitoy, Roosevelt catcher: “That was a really good catch. I don’t think anyone expected it.”
>> Kristin Fujii-Dias, Roosevelt coach: “It was a nice catch, a really nice catch. It was a shot. If we had a fence, it definitely would have been over.”
>> Bruce Asato, Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Hawaii Prep World photographer: “Like Willie Mays.”
Asato was stationed on the high ground in right field and he captured the moment when the ball hit Wee’s glove.
When the Cougars (4-2) ran to the dugout after the half inning, a teammate said to Wee something like: “That would be great if you had a photograph of that.”
But it was Pitoy who had the final say in the game, leading off the bottom of the seventh with the score tied 1-1. She hammered a line drive to the gap in right-center and it kept on rolling. A relay throw to an infielder standing in the outfield was bobbled as Pitoy was heading to third and she easily made it all the way home.
The official scorer ruled it a homer. It was difficult to tell if a throw home would have been in time even if the relay was cleanly fielded.
“I just wanted to get on base for my team,” Pitoy said. “We had been hitting pretty good. I just wanted to get a hit and start the rally up. I’m happy, especially for this (win). We ended the first half (of the season) and won everything. I’m proud of my team and props to Kaiser for giving us a good game.”
Roosevelt right-hander Jaeda Cabunoc struck out nine and finished with a two-hitter and both of those hits were by the Cougars’ Precious Aholelei.
Precious’ sister Primrose Aholelei was the tough-luck losing pitcher, striking out 10 and allowing six hits.
“Pretty weird, yeah?” Matsumoto said. “Your pitcher strikes out 10 and you still lose.”
The Cougars will get another shot at Roosevelt (6-0) on April 9 at Kaiser’s home field.
“We’ll get them back when we see them at our house,” said Matsumoto, whose team received votes but didn’t crack into the Honolulu Star-Advertiser Top 10 on Monday.
Fujii-Dias likes the Rough Riders’ attitude so far.
“I know for sure they want to make it to states,” she said. “They showed really good last year, but unfortunately Mililani beat us (6-1 in the first round). We played a good game, but it left kind of a sour taste. I know the girls want to make it farther than the first round.”
Nakamura, aside from the smash that Wee caught, had a first-inning double and two walks, including one intentionally.
“Maya’s been hitting the ball real well,” Fujii-Dias said. “Hard luck today. She is one of our most consistent hitters. A lot of teams are afraid to throw to her. She can do everything and she hits for power. Overall, a really good player.”