The freshman provided the spark and the seniors added the power.
Freshman Mya Grado and seniors Tiari Hernandez, Julia Oshiro and Jewel Larson homered as Pearl City remained unbeaten with a 14-4 win over Leilehua on Tuesday. Grado went 3-for-4 with five RBIs and three runs scored from the No. 9 spot in the batting order.
Pearl City was 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position through the first four innings. After that, the Chargers were 5-for-9 with runners in scoring position and scored nine runs in the last two frames. Leilehua, meanwhile, stranded 14 baserunners.
Pearl City improved to 3-0-2 and has one game left. The Chargers, coached by Chad Obara, will visit Kailua on Thursday. A cancelled game with Mililani earlier in the season will not be made up.
“(Pitcher) Grace Kikuchi game in, played well. Mya Grado, the freshman third baseman, she’s stepping into some big shoes with Braelynn Kaulu-Choy Foo leaving,” Obara said. “Today, she played a little faster on the defensive side. Still not fast enough for my liking, but faster, and she hit the crud out of the ball today.”
Grado socked a two-run, opposite-field homer to right in the second inning, belted an RBI double in Pearl City’s four-run sixth inning, and then drove in two more runs in the seventh.
“I feel like there’s a lot of good girls ahead of me and hopefully when I’m up, I do something to benefit the team,” said Grado, who homered moments after Oshiro smacked a solo shot. “I think they just underestimated me because I’m small, but I am small. With that one, I used my legs more than usual, which I should start doing more. I think that’s what happened on that one.”
Grado credited her hitting mentors.
“My dad (Milton Grado) and these coaches helped me, too,” she said.
Hernandez, a first baseman, will play at HPU next season.
“Tiari is one of the seniors that I kind of challenged this year to be the on-field type of leader. She’s going to give a good vibe whenever she steps out there. Today, she had some really good at-bats. They were working her tough, pitching her tough and she still was able to put up some numbers,” Obara said. “I really think she has developed and blossomed into the player that was saw she could be freshman year. I’m happy for her.”
Hernandez finished 2-for-3 with three RBIs, two runs scored and a walk along with her home run.
“Today feels great. It’s a team win. We all had confidence in our pitchers and our bats were on fire,” she said. “Our communication and breathing, being loose are helping.”
Kikuchi is Pearl City’s go-to reliever. Sometimes its a brief stint. Sometimes, like Tuesday, she closes out. Amaris Cabato went 4 1-3 innings for the win, and Kikuchi entered in the top of the fifth to put out a fire. Leilehua had pulled within 5-3 and had two runners on base. Kikuchi walked the first batter she faced, then retired power-hitting Lovey Kepaa for the third out.
The right-hander went 2 2-3 innings, allowing one unearned run on one hit.
“I was going straight for my fastball inside. Usually it moves more than when it’s outside,” Kikuchi said.
(See the game story in Wednesday’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser.)
At Ka‘ala Elementary School
Pearl City (3-0-2) 030 024 5 — 14 13 3
Leilehua (2-3-1) 001 020 1 — 4 9 4
Amaris Cabato, Grace Kikuchi (5) and Jo-Zayah Iriarte. Xaniah Toaiva-Talo, Lovey Kepaa (5) and Kalia Kekahuna-Fernandez. W—Cabato. L—Toaiva-Talo.
Leading hitters—Tiari Hernandez 2-3, HR, 3 RBIs, 2 runs, walk; Jewel Larson 2-5, HR, 2 RBIs, run; Julia Oshiro 2-3, HR, 2 runs, RBI, 2 SB, walk; Mya Grado 3-4, HR, double, 5 RBIs, 3 runs. Leilehua: Kalia Kekahuna-Fernandez 2-3, triple, run, 2 walks; Jerrine Nartatez 2-3, walk.