Tokunaga puts out fires, douses Hilo
HILO — Freshman right-hander Mykala Tokunaga displayed a veteran’s poise, pitching herself out of trouble in every inning, and her teammates provided a healthy dose of offense to help Kamehameha-Hawaii’s softball team remain undefeated in league play.
Every batter in the lineup contributed either a run, hit or an RBI, and the Warriors defeated Hilo 10-3 in a Big Island Interscholastic Federation softball game Thursday at the Walter Victor Complex.
Tokunaga scattered seven hits, not once retiring the side, but limiting damage with clutch pitches. She allowed three runs — one unearned on a passed ball — walked three and struck out four. She hit three batters, giving herself a little bit of a headache with extra baserunners, but her defense bailed her out with two inning-ending double plays.
Jaylen Shiroma led the charge, going 3-for-4 with an RBI for the Division II Warriors (5-0 BIIF, 9-1 overall). Tokunaga went 2-for-4, and Janell Cameros was 1-for-2 with two RBIs, cracking a two-run single in the second to start a scoring streak that put up runs for five straight innings.
Hilo ace Aliesa Kaneshiro went the distance in the loss. The junior right-hander gave up 10 runs, one unearned, on 11 hits, walking five and striking out four. She had three wild pitches, which led to three runs. And her defense committed three errors, which led to an unearned run and prolonged innings and frustration.
Caitlyn Price was the only Hilo hitter to have much success against Tokunaga. She went 2-for-3 and scored twice for the Vikings (5-1, 9-2), who stranded eight, including the bases loaded in a pivotal fourth inning.
Kamehameha was ahead 5-1, and Hilo was itching for a timely two-out hit. But Tokunaga wasn’t giving an inch. She made good pitches, eventually getting a popout to catcher Kekai Wong Yuen, a fellow freshman, to escape that uncomfortable situation.
“I was trying to make Hilo pop up. They like to hit high pitches, and I threw my riser,” Tokunaga said. “We wanted to get easy outs because with runners on they can’t run.
“We hit the ball really well, and we hit like crazy. All of our players from one to nine in the lineup hit, and my defense held up for me. When Hilo hit the ball, my defense got to it.”
The Vikings just didn’t seem to be in sync, especially fielding bunts. Twice, the Warriors got base hits on bunts when Hilo didn’t communicate. And on a day when misfortune often glued itself to the Vikings, it was no surprise that the bunting hits came back to bite them.
In the second, before Cameros’ two-run single, Namele Naipo-Arsiga dropped a bunt that Hilo was slow to field. Naipo-Arsiga has good wheels and beat the late throw to first. She later scored the third run of the inning for an early 3-0 lead.
In the fifth, Codi Kualii bunted, and a pair of Vikings charged the ball and nearly bumped heads. That gave Kualii a base hit, and she later scored the second run, padding Kamehameha’s cushion to 7-1.
It just wasn’t Hilo’s day, even when Kaneshiro made great pitches. Take the fifth inning, for example.
Pinch hitter Makena Wagner worked a full count, and Kaneshiro busted a fastball on her hands. But the ball bounced over the pitcher’s head for an RBI single, scoring Kualii and showing that sometimes luck trumps a great pitch.
Meanwhile, it wasn’t smooth sailing for Tokunaga, who was surrounded by Vikings in every inning. She got scratched for single runs in the second, sixth and seventh innings. But whenever a hint of bigger trouble was in the air, she kept throwing ice water on Hilo’s bats.
In the sixth, Hilo had two on with two out and managed a run when Price scored on a passed ball. Tokunaga got a strikeout to extinguish the threat. It was already 10-2 and growing dark with the busy activity of the Merrie Monarch Festival buzzing nearby.
Then in the seventh, with daylight fading, Shyanne Higa-Gonsalves singled, and No. 2 hitter Sharlei Graham-Bernisto walked. Higa-Gonsalves later scored on a wild pitch. Tokunaga got a flyout, a groundout and another flyout to right fielder Kualii, closing the game and impressing Kamehameha coach Gary Ahu.
“She did really good. Every game she does good, but she was more consistent,” he said. “She didn’t walk too many batters, and she’s getting in shape right now.”
He also had equally effusive praise for his offense.
“All of our players are learning to execute,” he said. “Every play I called — a hit-and-run or a bunt-and-run — they did it.”
KS-Hawaii 031 123 0 — 10 11 1
Hilo 010 001 1 — 3 7 3
c Kealakehe 11, Kohala 4: Sophomore Lina Palmer-Kahananui pitched a complete-game five-hitter, and the Waveriders plated two runs with two outs in the fifth inning to take the lead for good at Kamehameha Park.
With Kohala leading 4-3, Ashley Isisaki’s two-out RBI double chased home Kiersen Kahele with the tying run. Then after Cowgirls pitcher Ashlyn Van Zandt hit Leisha Nakagawa with a pitch, Nicole Cerezo put Kealakehe (3-3 BIIF, 5-5 overall) in front with a run-scoring single.
Palmer-Kahananui, who struck out four and walked four, then pitched three scoreless innings.
Kahele finished 3-for-4, Isisaki was 2-for-4 with two doubles, and Nakagawa went 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Van Zandt, who pitched 5 2/3 innings, took the loss for Kohala (1-5, 3-7). She allowed eight runs on 11 hits, striking out two and walking one.
At the plate, Sheana Cazimero went 3-for-4 with a triple.
Kealakehe 002 123 3 — 11 13 2
Kohala 101 200 0 — 4 5 6
c Honokaa 13, Hawaii Prep 0: Precious Palea-Enos pitched a three-hit shutout in Waimea as the Dragons rolled to their fifth straight victory.
The contest ended after five innings because of the league’s 10-run mercy rule.
Palea-Enos, a sophomore, struck out six and walked one. She also went 3-for-4 at the plate for Honokaa (4-2 BIIF, 8-2 overall), which took advantage of nine walks and an error to score nine first-inning runs.
HPA’s Kawena Lim-Samura, who also went the distance, took the loss.
She allowed eight hits and 16 walks, striking out one.
Offensively, Gabbie Ewing stroked a double while Keola Stevens and Camille Kiyota each had a single for Ka Makani (1-5, 1-9).
Honokaa 902 11 — 13 8 1
Hawaii Prep 000 00 — 0 3 7
c Keaau 17, Ka‘u 7: The Cougars improved to 4-1 in the BIIF and 7-3 overall with their home victory. The Trojans dropped to 0-5, 0-10.
The home team of Keaau did not provide further information on the contest.
West Hawaii Today’s Joe Ferraro contributed to this report.