Here we go with the Final Four of Hawaii high school softball in Divisions I and II at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium. Still one of my favorite places in the world to see a sport. Everything is so close and compact here. The Division II final four begins with OIA champion Kalani and BIIF champion Kamehameha-Hawaii.
St. Francis 8, Konawaena 7, final
The Saints score one run in the sixth and four in the seventh to rally for the big semifinal win. They scored in the sixth on Kamaile Perreira’s solo home run, cutting the lead to 7-4.
In the seventh, Grace fanned Ofoia and the Wildcats were two outs away from reaching the final. But Kealoha doubled, Skye Ah Yat was intentionally walked and Jordyn Lono singled to center, scoring Kealoha to make it 7-5. Pinch hitter Nanea Kalama then doubled, bringing Ah Yat and Lono home to tie the game at 7.
After Garcia and Matsumura walked, Ka‘ena Keliinoi was hit on the shoulder with a 1-2 pitch, forcing in pinch runner Sunny Halsey to give the Saints a remarkable comeback win.
The Wildcats strike for two runs. Grace singles with two outs on an 0-2 pitch and Medeiros walks after a 3-2 count and two foul balls. After hitting the earlier homers, they’re not getting anything inside/middle. Kaimana Manzano comes through with an opposite-field double to the corner in left, scoring Grace and Medeiros. KONAWAENA 7, ST. FRANCIS 3.
Matsumura singles with two outs, but is left stranded at first.
Kupihea sets the Wildcats in order, 1-2-3.
The Saints respond quickly with two runs in the bottom 3rd. Matsumura (signed with Chaminade) leads off with a single, Kailee Mahelona one-out single, and a grounder by Ofoia goes through the legs of SS Andi Uemura, allowing Matsumura to score. Kolbee Kealoha follows with a sac fly to center, scoring Mahelona from third. KONAWAENA 5, ST. FRANCIS 3.
BOOM BOOM. The Saints wisely walk Grace, who hit the first HR in the first inning, but they pitch to Medeiros, and the Wildcat makes them pay. She takes aim at a 3-2 pitch and socks a two-run homer to left. That opens the lead to four runs. KONAWAENA 5, ST. FRANCIS 1.
The Saints bring the lumber. Sammie Ofoia clouts an 0-1 pitch high over the left-field fence (and into the net). The Saints get two more runners on base, but Grace puts out the fire.
Kupihea strikes out the side and already has five K’s after two frames.
Wildcats ace Shaylann Grace sets the Saints down in order 1-2-3.
The Wildcats bust out of the gate with two home runs in the first inning against Saints ace Sierra Kupihea. Rachel Sato — four foul balls with two strikes on her before reaching on an infield single. Shaylann Grace belts a one-out homer to left, just inside the foul pole — on a 2-2 pitch. Jayla Medeiros follows with a solo shot to center on a full count and two foul balls on the full count. Wildcats are disciplined at the plate, very selective and obviously have the boom to keep up with St. Francis, one of the best power-hitting teams in the state regardless of division.
Konawaena might be feeding a little bit off the success of Kamehameha-Hawaii in the earlier game. Not that they need any extra motivation.
KS-Hawaii 8, Kalani 7, final
Kalani begins the bottom half of the seventh with Jalen Nishihara, the No. 8 hitter, who strikes out swinging. No. 9 hitter April Kochi works the count full, strikes out swinging. The game comes down to Horita, which is only fitting. Baptiste is in the zone, but suddenly throws four balls in a row. Now it’s Matsumoto. She takes a strike, then a ball. Baptiste takes a stroll. That fastball couldn’t have been more than an inch above the strike zone. Another ball and it’s 2-1. Kalani’s hopes are starting to rise. Swing and a miss. Baptiste is tall, but mixes her pitches well. Foul ball. Corners slightly in. Fastball way high, it’s a full count. Horita will take off. Matsumoto sends a bouncer up the middle that threads the needle for a single. The team that practices every day in Palolo Valley, they’re still alive. It’s the first hit off Baptiste and now Ibara, the lefty, is at bat. Baptiste misses and it’s 2-0. Huddle at the mound. Ibara takes a cut and fouls it off. Then it gets crazy. Grounder to short, throwing error by SS Ili, Horita rounds third. Throw to third and Matsumoto is in no-man’s land off second. They throw to second and Matsumoto slides back in, but is she safe or out? No signal as Horita heads home and scores. There’s a conference with the coaches and umps, and everyone is ruled safe. KS-Hawaii is NOT happy. That cuts it to 8-7. Pagud steps in with runners at second and first. Called strike. Then a swing and a miss and it’s 0-2. Pagud sends a one-hopper back to Baptiste, easy throw to first and the Warriors win. They advance to the championship game.
The Warriors added an insurance run in the top of the seventh when Kawehi Ili reached base on a two-out infield single, then scored on a double to center by Dioni Lincoln. KS-HAWAII 8, KALANI 6.
KS-Hawaii threatens again, a one-out double by Taylor Sullivan and walk drawn by Brooke Baptiste. The comes the weirdest play of the season. Kauahi-Raquel flies out to center, Kochi throws to third base as Sullivan tags up from second base and takes off. The ball bounces off the face of shortstop Ibara and second baseman Matsumoto grabs it, tags out Baptiste, who was trying to advance from first base to second. That ends the inning.
Four runs in for Kalani. The Lady Falcons are taking at the plate, just like the Warriors, and get a single by Ibara, walks for Furuya and Miyashiro to load the bases. Iwasaki’s infield single brings Ibara home, then Nishihara grounds into a 5-2 fielder’s choice. Kochi then takes four balls in a row, forcing Miyashiro home with Kalani’s second run of the inning. That cuts KSH’s lead to 7-4. New pitcher in for the Warriors: Brooke Baptiste, who moves from DP. Tough spot with the bases loaded. Full count to Horita, inside pitch ball four. 7-5. Then Baptiste walks Matsumoto on five pitches, Nishihara scores. KS-HAWAII 7, KALANI 6.
Three big runs for the Warriors in the top half, with help via a Kalani infield error. Taylor Sullivan leads off with a walk, sac bunt by Brooke Baptiste, walk to Kawai Kauahi-Raquel and a bunt single by Jolie Kim loads the bases. Kuulei Ili bloops a single to left over the drawn-in infield, scoring Sullivan. Error by 2b Matsumoto, Kauahi-Raquel scores. Dioni Lincoln’s sac fly brings Kim home. KS-HAWAII 7, KALANI 2.
Kalani gets April Kochi on board with a one-out walk, but she is left stranded.
A noon-time game with pitchers who are on their second consecutive day of work, that’s a challenge. Especially on less than 24 hours rest. Cameros struggled through the third and gave up just one run. Now Horita struggles in the fourth with one hit batter and three walks, walking in one run. It’s Cameros, her counterpart, who draws the bases-loaded walk on a 3-2 count. KS-HAWAII 4, KALANI 2.
Kalani answers with a run in the bottom half. Cameros throws eight balls in a row, walking Matsumoto and Ibara. The runners advance on a groundout before Jazlyn Furuya’s sac fly brings Matsumoto home. Bailey Miyashiro singles to put runners at the corners, but Iwasaki pops out to end the inning. KS-HAWAII 3, KALANI 2.
The Warriors break through with three runs. Kuulei Ili leads off with a walk, Kawehi Ili infield single and both score on Dioni Lincoln’s double to right. Lincoln comes home on Cameros’ single to center. KS-HAWAII 3, KALANI 1.
Falcons go 1-2-3 against Jessica Cameron.
Warriors get runners at 3rd and 2nd with 1 out, but Cherise Horita fans the next two to put out the fire.
The Lady Falcons strike first thanks to a single by Shandi Matsumoto, a walk by Toni-Lynn Ibara and an error to load the bases. Jazlyn Furuya’s single to right scores Matsumoto, but Kalani leaves the bases loaded. Big escape by KSH pitcher Jessica Cameros. KALANI 1, KS-HAWAII 0.