Anzai on the mark
From Alexis Anzai’s pinpoint control to her teammates’ line-drive mentality at the plate, the Waiakea softball team didn’t try to do too much Tuesday against Hilo.
In the process, the Warriors showed they’re still a team that has the potential to accomplish a lot.
Anzai pitched a five-hitter, and seven different Waiakea players collected hits as the Warriors dealt the Vikings their first loss of the season with a 6-2 victory at Waiakea.
“They didn’t make mistakes like they normally do,” Waiakea coach Bo Saiki said. “We’re finally starting to hit line drives. They’re no longer thinking longball.”
Anzai, a senior right-hander, noted that Waiakea (4-1 Big Island Interscholastic Federation, 7-3 overall) felt a pregame adrenaline rush at the prospect of facing its rival — and an undefeated one at that.
“Our team was really pumped up,” she said.
Yet, Waiakea took a calm, disciplined approach and won its third straight since getting off to an uncharacteristic 4-3 start.
“I think we realize how much more we’re capable of doing,” said senior shortstop Brandi Maximo, who was 2-for-4 with an RBI single. “We’ve come a long way. We’ve actually learned how to work together as team and became stronger.”
Anzai struck out just two, but she changed speeds and used an effective riseball against Hilo (5-0, 9-1), recording 11 outs on balls hit in the air. She walked two batters and hit one.
“I don’t try to strike them out. I hit my spots, and I trust my fielders,” she said. “I was getting ahead of the batters most of the time, and they were falling for my off-speed pitches.”
Waiakea finished with 10 hits and played clean defensively until two errors led to an unearned run off Anzai in the sixth inning.
She called it her best performance of the season, and Saiki said her fielders backed her up like never before.
“We’ve gotten a lot better (in the field) since the beginning (of the season),” Anzai said. “They’re able to make the routine plays now. They’re not so nervous.”
Waiakea played pepper with Hilo center fielder Jordyn Breitbarth in the third inning, scoring three times to take a 4-1 lead.
Cheylee Octavio, Maximo and Ariana Mareko all hit singles to center, and Taylor Ogawa lined a double to center.
“I was thinking base hit, base hit, to get on base so we could have runners on the bags and get in situations,” Maximo said.
Mareko was 2-for-2 with a double and reached base in all four of her plate appearances, and Elizabeth Sakamoto was 2-for-2 with a walk.
The defending BIIF Division I champion Vikings came in undefeated, but they had lived dangerously of late, winning three of their past four games by a run.
“We’ve been having trouble making routine plays, in practice and in games,” Hilo coach Leo Sing-Chow said. “It’s just a lack of focus. Maybe we needed this, and it will get them to refocus, come back and work harder.”
Fantacie Keahilihau-Kuamoo hit an RBI triple to give Hilo a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
But while Waiakea was efficient — Maximo had her team’s only RBI — the Vikings started making mistakes.
Mareko led off the second against Hilo ace Aliesa Kaneshiro with a walk, and pinch-runner Kyleigh Kahala-Giron eventually came around to score on a balk. In the fifth, Jayla Costa led off with a double, stole a base and scored on a wild pitch. In the fifth, Sakamoto singled, moved up on a wild pitch and scored on an error.
Kaneshiro went the distance, striking out three, walking four and hitting one. She threw five wild pitches, and two of the runs she allowed were unearned.
Caitlyn Price finished with two hits for Hilo, and Sharlei Graham-Bernisto scored two runs. But when the Vikings made good contact, they often lifted the ball to medium distance in the outfield.
“We definitely didn’t put the ball on the ground and we didn’t execute as much as we should have,” Sing-Chow said. “But at the same time, they had played us right in the outfield.”
Hilo 100 001 0 — 2 5 2
Waiakea 013 110 0 — 6 10 2