The opening day of the DataHouse/HHSAA Division I Softball Championship served as testament to the strength and depth of the OIA West.
Of the division’s seven teams, five will be among the eight playing in the state tournament’s quarterfinal round on Wednesday at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.
The OIA West went 4-0 in the first round on Tuesday with Leilehua, Campbell, Mililani and Pearl City advancing. Kapolei, the tournament’s top seed and OIA champion, had a bye in the first round and faces Leilehua in Wednesday’s 4:45 p.m. game.
Mililani faces third-seeded Maui at 12:15 p.m. and Pearl City takes on fourth-seed Waiakea at 2:30.
The quarterfinal round ends with a matchup between defending champion Campbell and second-seeded Kamehameha, the ILH champion, at 7 p.m.
Campbell spent much of the season atop the Star-Advertiser poll before losing its first game of the season to Kapolei in the semifinals of the OIA playoffs. The Sabers finished third in the league playoffs and overpowered Kealakehe 15-0 on Tuesday.
After the OIA playoffs, Campbell coach Michael Hermosura saw a different demeanor in the Sabers when they returned to practice in advance of the state tournament.
“Practice changed,” he said. “I didn’t change it.”
Hermosura said the players requested a team meeting prior to the session and “It was a great practice and I guess that motivated the team. … The seniors stepped up in that meeting.
The Sabers opened the tournament by scoring six runs in the first inning and six more in the second with pitcher Elisa Favela contributing a home run to the attack. Cydney Curran went 3-for-4 and drove in three runs. Darien Robinson went 3-for-3 and Trinity Favela also drove in three runs.
Favela struck out eight and walked none while limiting Kealakehe to two hits in a five-inning complete-game victory.
“We hit the ball well, Elisa threw pretty good, but tomorrow’s a different story,” Hermosura said, looking ahead to the matchup with third-ranked Kamehameha. “We have to be more prepared.”
A couple more notes from the state tournament’s opening day:
>> Mililani senior Aubree Kim struck out 16 while throwing 157 pitches in a 6-3 win over Kaiser, but she’s accustomed to relatively high pitch counts.
“I think two years ago I got up to 180-something,” Kim recalled. “I’m used to it. I always do that to myself.”
In addition to the treatment she receives from Mililani trainer Sharyn Kodama, Kim said she also works with physical therapist Bert Momohara to help prepare for her work load in the circle.
“This last week I went every day, Sundays he’ll help me. I’m so thankful for him, he helps me so much,” Kim said.
>> There were five home runs hit on the tournament’s opening day, starting with Leilehua first baseman Mahealani Calizo’s three-run shot in the third inning of the Mules’ 4-0 win over Lahainaluna.
‘Iolani catcher Cassie Ho homered in back-to-back plate appearances in the sixth and seventh innings against Pearl City. The Chargers’ Hope Casarez, the ninth batter in Pearl City’s lineup, answered Ho’s first homer with a solo shot in the bottom of the sixth and the Chargers held on for an 8-4 win.