(Here’s the long version of this morning’s report on Mid-Pacific’s 3-2 win over Punahou yesterday in high school softball. The original was cut due to limited space in this morning’s edition of the Star-Advertiser.)
It took an extended effort and a moment of Joy for the defending state champions to stay unbeaten yesterday.
Jordan Joy’s hustle play for an infield single sparked a rally for No. 2 Mid-Pacific, which came from behind to edge No. 1 Punahou 3-2 in eight innings.
That helped Owls ace Keiki Carlos, who later drilled a game-winning single to left in the eighth to score Lindsey Matoi. MPI improved to 4-0 in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu.
“It’s always good to win a game like this. Jordan made a great play and gave it her all. It started with her. I’d say that she’s the player of the game,” MPI coach William Quinn said. “She went all out. We were fortunate to get that call.”
Punahou slipped to 3-1 despite a homer by Mysha Sataraka and another solid pitching performance by Jaci Young.
“Mid-Pacific is the (defending) state champs and ILH champs, kudos to them,” Buffanblu coach Bob Makahilahila said. “We’ve got a big game Monday against St. Francis.”
Both teams have established offensive weapons — Carlos and Aliitasi Docktor of MPI, and Sataraka and Reina Furuya of Punahou — but it came down to key plays by emerging underclassmen. It also started with a gritty effort by a senior, Joy.
In the bottom of the seventh, with MPI down 2-1, the two-sport athlete suffered an ankle sprain despite stepping squarely in the middle of the “double safety base” on a close play, beating out the throw from Punahou shortstop Mysha Sataraka on a tough grounder.
“I was, yes, the umpire said ‘safe!’ Then it was oww,” Joy said of her injury.
Courtesy runner Kayla Au later scored from from second on a two-out, infield single by sophomore Kiley Oeda, whose line drive ricocheted off third baseman Kylie Popovich. Au’s run tied the game in the bottom of the seventh.
Carlos, who retired the final 10 batters she faced, set Punahou down in order in the top of the eighth. Matoi then doubled to the gap in right center to start the bottom of the frame.
“(Young) is a good pitcher,” said Matoi, who possibly could’ve gone to third on the play. “But we played it safe. We had our power hitters coming up.”
After Docktor reached base on Popovich’s error on a sacrifice bunt, Carlos went after Young’s first pitch. Carlos lined a shot inside third base for the winning run.
“We just all kept positive today. We really wanted this game. Punahou’s an awesome team and we had to work hard to get this win,” Carlos said. “I had to prove myself to the team because I wasn’t doing as well as I wanted to on the mound. I had to help out with my bat.”
Sataraka homered for the second time in as many games, belting an opposite-field line drive over the fence on a 2-1 pitch from Carlos. She didn’t get another pitch near the strike zone until the seventh inning and finished 1-for-2 at the plate with two walks.
“She’s an awesome hitter. It’s always a challenge to go against her ’cause you never know what you’re going to throw against her,” Carlos said. “I missed my spot on the outside corner and she hit it out.”
Mid-Pacific tied it in the bottom of the first on freshman Nicole Lopez’s ground single up the middle, brining Docktor home from second.
Carlos struck out five, but also walked three. She hit two batters during a funky spell in the middle innings, including one that set up Punahou’s go-ahead run in the fifth. Furuya scored on Vanessa Va‘a’s infield single to give the Buffanblu a 2-1 lead.
But for the second time in as many games, Punahou was unable to hold a lead in the seventh. The absence of reliever Tai Manu-Olevao, who is away on a club volleyball trip, may have been costly.
Punahou left seven runners on base.
Punahou is still in good position along with MPI and Kamehameha, in the race for the league’s two automatic state-tourney berths. A third berth will be settled by a playoff tournament.
“I think defensively, I was proud of how our kids played. There were plays that would normally be base hits that our kids were taking away,” Makahilahila said. “We haven’t had the field time because of the rain, so I see the bright spots.”
“It’s still early. We’ve got 10 more games to play and anything can happen,” Quinn said.
Carlos wasn’t surprised by the performance of the Owl underclassmen.
“Our bottom of the order is actually strong. They came through today. They all did their job even though we were down,” she said.
For Joy, it was her second ankle injury in high school. Two years ago, she was on the basketball court when she dislocated her other (right) ankle.
“We’ll just take it one game at a time,” she said, a moment before her father piggy-backed her to the team bus.