Surging forward: Punahou Power Company

Punahou's Kennedy Ishii fielded a ball in a game against Kamehameha earlier this month. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell/Star-Advertiser.
Punahou’s Kennedy Ishii fielded a ball in a game against Kamehameha earlier this month. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell/Star-Advertiser.

There are the Houston Rockets, the NBA franchise that makes offense look so easy with James Harden driving the bus.

There are the Atlanta Falcons, an NFL offensive juggernaut with Matt Ryan at quarterback and Julio Jones at wide receiver, a franchise that finally shored up its defense enough to reach the Super Bowl.

Set any clock alarm to the Punahou time zone, however, if bomb-squad power and scoring on the softball diamond are needed. The Buffanblu (4-3) are on a tear this season at the plate. The only glitch was a 12-1 loss at Kamehameha in game 2.

vs. Maryknoll: 11 runs
at Kamehameha: 1
vs. Mid-Pacific 13
vs. Pac-Five: 17
at ‘Iolani: 7
vs. St. Francis: 5
vs. Maryknoll: 13

The absence of ace pitcher and No. 5 hitter in the lineup Bailey Akimseu against ‘Iolani and St. Francis — she was visiting colleges during spring break — was a major reason for those two losses. With Akimseu in the lineup, they have scored 65 runs in the other five games.

D’Asha Saiki, a third baseman, pounded two round-trippers to help break open a close game as the Buffanblu beat Maryknoll 13-9 on Saturday. Saiki now has five homers and 19 RBIs, not bad at all for a sophomore.

The table-setters are efficient. Leadoff hitter Maya Matsubara and No. 2 hitter Alyssa Rasmussen each reached base three times and combined for an on-base percentage of .778 against Maryknoll. Saiki’s prodigious power, plus her batting eye, makes her a unique No. 3 hitter. Catcher Janell Sato is sandwiched in the clean-up spot by Saiki and Akimseu. Saiki (3-for-5), Sato (2-for-4, double, walk) and Akimseu (3-5, two doubles, three RBIs, two runs) combined to hit 8-for-14 with two homers, three doubles, nine RBIs with seven runs scored. (Note: Akimseu is credited with runs scored by her courtesy runner, Ashley Nakagawa.)

It’s a power order of great magnitude, and one reason it has produced 13 runs per game when Akimseu starts is that she has wheels, fast enough to set the table on her own if she leads off the second inning – which doesn’t happen often.

From there, coach Bobby Makahilahila has more than enough firepower to keep the offense churning. The No. 8 hitter, senior Lauryn Tachino, went 3-for-4 with an RBI on Saturday, and No. 9 hitter Kawailana Mielke went 2-for-4 with two RBis. Essentially, Punahou has at least four hitters who would make good to great leadoff hitters for any program. As a team, the Buffanblu drew nine walks.

“We’re hitting the ball fairly well,” Makahilahila said after Punahou’s 14-hit attack on Maryknoll. “Errors are killing us, and we’ve got to finish strong, 1-2-3.”

Punahou committed three errors against Maryknoll, which got its first four batters on base during the bottom of the seventh inning. The Spartans scored five times to turn a comfortable eight-run lead into a 13-9 final. Akimseu endured under a blistering-hot mid-day sun at Sand Island. Punahou’s No. 2 pitcher was sick and the No. 3 pitcher was at her grandfather’s funeral.

Considering that Punahou is 4-1 with Akimseu and 0-2 without her, the last five games of ILH regular-season play could be intriguing. On the slate: Kamehameha (Apr. 1), Mid-Pacific (Apr. 5), ‘Iolani (Apr. 8), St. Francis (Apr. 12) and Pac-Five (Apr. 15). All but the MPI game are home games, and with Kamehameha and ‘Iolani each at 5-1-1, closing the regular season in second place (first-round bye in the ILH playoffs) or even in first (automatic state-tourney berth) appears to be possible.

So there it is. Punahou has bashed and mashed just about every pitcher in the ILH to an extent, with the exception of Kamehameha, and that re-test is just a few days away. The only remaining question: Could the 6-foot Akimseu have helped Punahou on the basketball court? And could 6-foot volleyball phenom Elena Oglivie — the one who wins halftime shooting contests open only to fans — have helped ‘Iolani’s roundballers, as well? In the age of specialization, we will probably never know.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email