It was a wild, primal clash between familiar foes, and as often is the case, the dynastic Campbell Sabers prevailed.
Barely. Three-time defending state champion Campbell needed to put out the fire in the seventh with Pearl City at bat, down three runs with the bases loaded. Campbell escaped with a 10-7 win to advance to the semifinal round of the DataHouse/HHSAA Softball State Championships.
The teams met twice during the regular season with the Sabers (14-2) winning both times 5-4 and 5-2. This time, the top-seeded Sabers scored five runs in the first inning and opened the lead to 10-3 before hanging on for dear life.
There is light at the end of the long tunnel for Campbell, which seems to get the best of its opponents.
“There’s hope. There’s hope,” Sabers coach Michael “Shag” Hermosura said. “We came out hitting in the first two innings and then we kind of tapered off. I don’t know what was going on. We settled the girls down and make sure we take one out at a time.”
Campbell pitcher Chloe Sales went the distance in a gritty performance.
“Our pitcher, it’s the first time (at states) for her. A lot of nerves, but she fought back and got the outs to win the game,” Hermosura said. “There’s seven people behind her and we always tell her just execute your pitches and hit your spots.”
The Chargers scored four runs in the sixth inning, cutting a seven-run deficit to three.
In the top of the seventh, the Chargers put two runners on base, and then Taylor Au ripped a deep line drive that was speared by Campbell center fielder Alesia Ranches. Cheyne Obara’s bloop single then loaded the bases.
Taryn Fujioka then lined out to third, ending the scorefest.
“You can’t take nothing away from Pearl City. They’re a feisty club. Chad (Obara) and his coaching staff have them going, and they’re also young. I look for good things to happen for them in the future,” Hermosura said.
Anastasia Iosia went 4-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs to pace the Sabers. Dyllan Sanay-Shiraishi went 3-for-4 with two RBIs.
The teams combined for 28 base hits, 14 apiece. It was, at least in 2018, a classic battle of titans. It has been The Year of the Hitter in the OIA West, the ILH, generally statewide. You’ll see a 10-run game before a 1-0 pitchers’ duel pretty much every time.
Campbell will face a slew of sluggers in Punahou on Thursday in the semifinals.
“Tomorrow will be another day that we come and play our game. Punahou is tough. I’ve watched them play two games. They’ll hit the ball. They’ll run bases. We’ve got to play our best against them,” Hermosura said.
The five-run first inning was key. With the help of a Chargers’ error, two of the runs came in on bases-loaded walks, and one more crossed home plate on a bases-loaded hit batter. Sanay-Shiraishi added an RBI single.
In the second frame, Iosia doubled, Sanay-Saneishi singled and Zoie Recolan grounded out, scoring Iosia for a 6-0 lead.
The Chargers pushed three runs across the plate in the fourth. Tiara Hernandez singled and Alexas Presto-Ahsing jolted a home run to left. After Iriarte walked, Taylor Au doubled to center, scoring Iriarte and cutting the margin to three runs.
Campbell responded with two runs in the bottom of the fourth. Iosia doubled and scored on an error, and Recolan doubled, scoring Sanay-Saneishi.
Campbell keeps scoring. They score two runs in the fifth on an RBI single by Iosia (4-for-4) and an RBI infield single by Sanay-Shiraishi (3-for-4).
The Chargers cut the gap with a four-run sixth inning. Cheyne Obara ripped a two-run double. Pinch hitter Micalynn Nacnac brought Au home with a sacrifice fly, and Noel Saunders‘ groundout scored Obara from third. Then Hernandez’s deep ball stopped at the warning track in left. That would’ve cut the lead to one.