Sophomore Tiani Wayton’s HR lifts Punahou over MPI

Punahou's Tiani Wayton anticipated a pitch from Mid-Pac's Darian Kanno in the first inning of Wednesday's game. Cindy Ellen Russell / Star-Advertiser

Sometimes, perfection is not everything, and imperfection is overrated.

Mid-Pacific slugger Lea Hanawahine went 4-for-4 with a home run the last time the Owls met Punahou. MPI won that contest 15-12 back on Feb. 27, the last time Punahou lost in ILH play.

Hanawahine went 3-for-3 against Punahou on Wednesday, but this time the Buffanblu prevailed.

No. 7 Punahou turned the tables as Ashanti Martinez kept her pitches down in the zone. The visiting Owls didn’t get one ball over the outfield fence this time, and Martinez’s defense turned three double plays in a crucial 4-3 home win.

No. 5 Mid-Pacific entered the game in a three-way tie for first place, but is now 7-3. Punahou and ‘Iolani, which blanked Sacred Hearts 12-0 on Wednesday, are tied for first in the ILH at 8-2.

Hanawahine’s three hits, all singles, makes her 7-for-7 against Punahou this season.

Conversely, Punahou’s almost supernatural hitter, D’Asha Saiki, entered this battle batting a zany .850 (17-for-20) in league play. MPI pitcher Darian Kanno struggled with control early on, walking in a run during the first inning, but she became just the second pitcher in the ILH to keep Saiki hitless for an entire game. Saiki went 0-for-4 on two grounders and two fly outs, and saw her batting average tumble to a still-magnificent .708.

One of the revelations for Punahou is sophomore center fielder Tiani Wayton, who homered for a second consecutive game. Wayton isn’t physically imposing, but all her work on technique has made a difference at the plate.

“I keep my weight back and I wait on it because I usually have a timing problem,” said Wayton, who is batting .400. “I tried the weight shift before and it didn’t work, then I tried it more this year. Then it’s point of contact, and extend through so the ball carries.”

Punahou sophomore center fielder Tiani Wayton homered in a 4-3 win over Mid-Pacific, her second HR in as many games. Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser (Mar. 27, 2019)

And yet, for all of Punahou’s talent and grit, Mid-Pacific had a solid game on paper. No errors. Eight base hits.

“Tell me about the walks,” Owls coach Aiko Gojo said.

Kanno, a sophomore, finished with one strikeout and six walks issued. She scattered seven hits.

“I think she was focused, but we’ll be ready to work hard (at practice). We’ll give her more situations, show how much it cost us,” Gojo said.

Kanno was the winning pitcher in the first meeting, pitching the final four innings. She gave up six runs on nine hits that day. This time, she allowed just four runs on eight hits over six innings.

“Our defense was definitely backing me up. I just couldn’t get ahead in the count at times, especially the first inning,” she said.

Punahou began the season 0-2 and is one of the most balanced teams in the state now, particularly when Martinez keeps her array of pitches down.

“I actually don’t think she had her best stuff, especially on first pitches,” Punahou coach Dave “Boy” Eldredge said. “But props to her. She found ways to get out of innings with the double plays and pitching to contact.”

Martinez didn’t strike any Owls out, but issued only two walks.

“Punahou is a good team,” Gojo said. “They’ve got a lot of good hitters besides Saiki.”

At Punahou
Mid-Pacific (7-3) 100 100 1 — 3 8 0
Punahou (8-2) 101 200 x — 4 7 2
Darian Kanno and Kaeo Takemura. Ashanti Martinez and Liana Hashiki. W—Martinez. L—Kanno.
Leading hitters—MPI: Takemura 2-3, RBI, run; Lea Hanawahine 3-3, run; Ava Puuohau 1-2, RBI, BB. Punahou: Maya Matsubara 1-2, 2 runs, 2 BB; Tiani Wayton 1-2, HR, 2 RBIs, run, 2 BB; Asia Lee 2-2, RBI, BB.


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