KEAAU — Kamehameha-Hawaii’s six starting seniors saved the day, and the softball team’s winning streak reached 12 games.
Lehua McGuire, Jaylen Shiroma, Elizabeth Kia, Codi Kualii, Janell Cameros and Namele Naipo-Arsiga all contributed, and the Warriors outlasted Keaau 11-8 in an error-filled Big Island Interscholastic Federation game on Tuesday on Kamehameha’s Senior Day.
McGuire went 1-for-4, Shiroma drew a walk and scored, Kia was 1-for-3 and scored twice, Kualii batted 2-for-3, scored three times and had an RBI, and Naipo-Arsiga was 2-for-2, scored three runs and had two RBIs.
Kamehameha (9-0 BIIF, 13-1 overall) has already clinched the BIIF regular-season title and the league’s automatic berth to the Hawaii High School Athletic Association state tournament.
The three other starters — freshman catcher Kekai Wong Yuen (two RBIs), freshman pitcher/hitter Mykala Tokunaga (seven-hitter) and junior Gayla Ha-Cabebe (0-for-4) — will have a tough task living up to the bar Kamehameha’s Senior Six has set.
Last year, the Warriors won the BIIF championship, finished runner-up in 2010 and have qualified for states three times. Of course, there’s still the possibility of a second BIIF crown.
The Cougars (6-3, 9-5) were hurt by six errors, including four in the sixth inning that led to three unearned runs — the difference in the game.
Keaau’s loss is a double whammy, handing Hilo the top seed for the four-team BIIF tournament. If the Vikings beat Pahoa today, they clinch the BIIF regular-season title and the league’s first state berth to the Division I state tournament.
Keaau’s best case scenario is the No. 2 seed in the playoffs and the right to host Waiakea in the semifinals. Hopefully by then, two key Cougars — shortstop Rylann Hacoba (ankle) and first baseman Iana Clarke (knee) — will be back, and catcher Ayanna Silva, who was beaned once and walked with a malady of aches and pains, returns to full health.
On Tuesday, the game was back-and-forth. Keaau led by two runs after the third inning. Kamehameha led by two runs after the fourth. The Cougars put up their second four-run outburst in the fifth. The Warriors countered with their second four-run rally in the sixth.
Kia led off the sixth with a single, went to second on a wild pitch and scored when Kualii reached on an error. It was 8-8, and the wild times were just getting started. Two other errors allowed her to score for a 9-8 lead.
“What I love about our team is we pick each other up,” Kualii, the right fielder, said. “If we’re down, we keep going and push hard. We’ve got each others’ backs. The game was pretty much nerve-racking, but it was exciting.”
Lohi Kamakea-Wong, a sophomore right-hander, pitched six innings, allowed 11 runs (six unearned) on seven hits and three walks and struck out five in the loss.
In seven innings, Tokunaga surrendered eight runs (five earned) on seven hits and two walks. She whiffed eight, stranding five. Kamakea-Wong left only one one, hard evidence that all those errors were untimely.
The Kamehameha right-hander, who will duel with Kamakea-Wong in many future dates, didn’t always shut down Keaau after her team scored — sort of Golden Rule No. 1 for pitchers. But Tokunaga did the next best thing, blanking the Cougars after they scored their four-spots.
Keaau’s bright spots were Shaniya Kamakea-Wong, who batted 4-for-4 with an RBI in support of her cousin, and Cynthia Nakaima, who went 1-for-3 with three RBIs, drilling a two-run single in a four-run fifth inning.
Keaau 004 040 0 — 8 7 6
Kamehameha 002 414 x — 11 7 3