Softball: Punahou bats back up Nishizawa’s gem

After being stifled over the weekend, Punahou’s offense came out swinging on Wednesday.

The fifth-ranked Buffanblu got contributions throughout the batting order and off the bench in an 11-0 ILH softball win over No. 6 Mid-Pacific. Eleven Punahou players — seven starters and four pinch hitters — reached base safely and eight recorded hits to propel the Buffanblu to a bounce-back win following their 5-0 loss to Kamehameha last Saturday.

Punahou (5-1) recorded 11 hits and scored at least two runs in five innings of a game shortened to six due to the 10-run rule.

“I keep talking to them that you start the season with good defense to keep you in the games,” Punahou coach Bob Makahilahila said, “but as the season goes on the offense has to catch up and surpass the defense in order for you be very competitive. Especially with teams like Mililani and Campbell and Kamehameha and Maryknoll, if you cannot hit, you’re not gonna really have a chance.”

That said, it doesn’t hurt when senior right-hander Nicole Nishizawa turns in pitching performances such as her one-hit, eight-strikeout effort against MPI.

Nishizawa executed the pitches called by catcher Sara Buck and kept the Owls (4-2) off balance most of the game. She retired the first eight batters she faced before Breeze-lyn Morita flared a single into left field with two out in the third for MPI’s lone hit of a rainy afternoon.

“Nic was very on,” Makahilahila said. “She was hitting her spots, every pitch she was throwing just seemed to get into the right place.”

Nishizawa, who also helped her cause by driving in two runs, remained in command other than a spell in the top of the fourth when she walked Nicole Lopez and Marissa Allen and a wild pitch pushed them into scoring position with one out. But Nishizawa got a strikeout and a grounder to second to preserve the shutout.

“(Pitching coach Guy Shinsato) definitely is helping me with my pitches,” Nishizawa said. “We threw fastballs, risers, changeups toward the end, a little bit of curveballs, and the right mix of those called by Sara Buck.”

Punahou already led 5-0 at that point and continued to cushion the lead in the fifth and sixth. Makahilahila sent seven pinch hitters to the plate in the sixth and Sarah Yamada contributed a two-run double. Lauren Tachino went 2-for-2 off the bench and ended the game in the sixth with a two-run triple.

“I think coming off the Kamehameha game the girls didn’t like the feeling of how things went. So when we came back on Monday they just worked hard,” Makahilahila said.

“As a coach you’re always worried after a big game like that if you’ll have some kind of mental or physical letdown. … For them to come out and do what they did against, in my opinion, a good Mid-Pac team, was pretty impressive.”

Punahou next plays Saint Francis at noon on Saturday while Mid-Pacific faces Kamehameha at 10 a.m.


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