Roosevelt and Waianae traded two-out rallies throughout a dramatic opening-round game in the OIA Division I softball playoffs on Wednesday before the host Rough Riders emerged with a 9-8 win at Stevenson Middle School.
The Rough Riders and Seariders combined to score 10 runs with two out in the first-round game with Roosevelt delivering the final blow on D-Dre Wright’s walk-off double in the bottom of the seventh.
Wright’s drive into the left-center gap to score Mika Emoto from second punctuated a wild seventh inning that saw Waianae rally from a four-run deficit and tie the game on Kamalei-Rhandie Santiago’s two-out, three-run homer only to have Roosevelt come up with one more answer.
Waianae qualified for the playoffs as the sixth seed in the OIA West and trailed 3-1 going into the third. Kayla Hensley led off the inning with a home run onto the roof of Stevenson’s PE building and freshman Paia’ala Wilcox-Molina’s two-out single later in the inning gave the Seariders a 4-3 lead.
The lead and momentum shifted back to the third-base dugout when Roosevelt leadoff hitter Maya Nakamura drilled a two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the fourth and the Rough Riders scored three more runs — the last two with two out — in the fifth to open up an 8-4 lead.
Mari Foster managed to fend off the Seariders in the fifth and sixth innings, leaving the bases loaded both times, with more drama ahead in the seventh.
Wilcox-Molina walked, Deyna Kunhert ran out an infield single and Tyra Pai drove in a run with a single up the middle. With the tying run coming to the plate, appeared Foster might escape again after getting a fly out to center and a foul popup to third. But Santiago took a ball before launched a her tying home run to left field.
Prior to the game, Santiago, the Seariders’ starting pitcher, delivered the team’s quote of the day to coach Aina Kalaola, four lines written on folder paper ending with “softball is my life, not a choice.”
Emoto led off the bottom of the seventh with a line drive just out of the reach of Waianae third baseman Kalei Cacho-Kekahuna, who snagged two liners earlier in the game. Haylie Uetake dropped a bunt to advance Emoto and after a fly out Wright ended the game with the game’s final two-out hit.
“They all did their job,” Roosevelt coach Clay Okamura said. “They just kept hitting the ball.”
While Roosevelt, the third seed out of the OIA East, advanced to face Mililani in the quarterfinals on Thursday, Waianae heads into the summer with much to build upon following Kalaola’s first season as head coach.
Kalaola had two freshmen, three sophomores, two juniors and four seniors on his 11-player roster and returned to Waianae to take over the varsity program this season after serving as an assistant for nine years.
“Being an assistant coach, you take for granted a lot of things,” Kalaola said. “Being the head coach, everything falls on your shoulders. So a lot of decisions you make, it reflects on the community and on yourself. So I hope I made my community proud. I know the girls made me proud.”