Moanalua sparkles on diamond
• Photo gallery: Moanalua vs. Pearl City softball
By Kyle Sakamoto
Advertiser Staff Writer
Moanalua's Dori Ann Sugai is a rarity on the softball field — a catcher who hits lead off, and a lead-off hitter who displays power.
Sugai hit two homers, including the go-ahead, two-run shot in the sixth, as host Moanalua beat Pearl City, 8-6, yesterday in the first round of the O'ahu Interscholastic Association Red Conference Tournament.
"They asked me for something inspirational in the beginning. So I told them, 'Are you going to choose to be the rock or when under pressure, you can be a diamond?' " said Moanalua coach Kristie Morikawa. "I'm kind of glad they chose to be diamonds, not just rocks."
Moanalua was playing just its fourth "home" game on its campus field in nearly three years while it awaited the construction of a backstop.
"It's nice to be able to not have to rush off (for games on the road), and it's a field we can call our own," Morikawa said. "We're the ones out here every day sweating so to be able to call this place ours is a nice feeling."
Moanalua, the East's No. 4 team, will play at West champion Campbell today at 3:30 p.m.
In Nā Menehune's sixth inning yesterday, Stephanie Putman led off with a single to left, was sacrificed to second by Leticia Colon and reached third on a groundout by Peyton Buen.
Sugai, a sophomore, then lined a 2-1 pitch to left that was misjudged by the Pearl City left fielder, who took two steps in. The ball went to the fence and Sugai circled the bases behind Putman for an 8-6 lead.
"I was really happy. I wasn't expecting to hit home runs," said Sugai, who hit a lead-off homer to right in the second. "I just wanted to get on base and help the team in that way. I was lucky."
Sugai, who finished 3 for 4, started the year in the lead-off spot, but was moved down in the order after struggling.
She started to produce at the plate recently and was moved back to the lead-off spot. Sugai said the key has been staying "compact and swinging down, not swinging for the fences."
"Lately it's like she's seeing the ball a whole lot better. Surprised me today," Morikawa said.
Buen pitched a perfect top of the seventh — her only 1-2-3 inning of the game — for the complete-game victory over Pearl City, the West's No. 5 team. The junior left-hander allowed eight hits and worked around four errors.
"Peyton has learned how to battle through the tough times even though it may not be her fault, per se," Morikawa said. "Still, it starts with her. Everything starts with the pitcher."
Pearl City scored three in the fourth to tie it at 6-6. With runners at the corners and two outs, Keani Passi singled to center to score one. Moanalua (6-7) tried to get Courtney Ahlo going to third, but the throw was cut off by the shortstop, who threw wildly to second in an attempt to get Passi. Ahlo and Passi both scored on the error.
The Chargers battled back from a 4-1 deficit after the first inning and a 6-3 hole after the second. The four runs in the first were unearned because of three errors.
"All year long we didn't play with pressure and today because it's a playoff game we came out a little bit tight," said Pearl City coach Keoke Behic.
Pearl City (4-9) had chances to score more, but it stranded seven runners, including six in scoring position.
"The last few innings, we had runners in scoring position almost every single inning and we couldn't come up with the clutch hit," Behic said.
PEARL CITY (4-9) 120 300 0—6 8 4
MOANALUA (6-7) 420 002 x—8 8 4
Sella Rodrigues and Maya Nagata. Peyton Buen and Dori Ann Sugai. W — Buen. L — Rodrigues.
Leading hitters — Pearl City: Sugai 3-4, 2 homers, 3 runs, 3 RBIs; Kylee Oshiro 2-3, triple, 2 runs. Moanalua: Alana Cuarisma 2-4; Tiari Walker double.
KAILUA 2, LEILEHUA 1
Johnna Pedro led off the eighth inning with a triple and scored on a two-out single by Destinee Chang as the Surfriders edged the Mules in a first-round game. Jaelleen Johnson pitched a four-hitter for Kailua.
LEILEHUA (4-10) 001 000 00—1 4 2
KAILUA (10-3) 001 000 01—2 5 2
Maegan Tupinio and Kelina Nakai. Jaelleen Johnson and Sharla Kumai-Farrell. W — Johnson. L — Tupinio.
Leading hitters — Leilehua: none. Kailua: Johnna Pedro triple, run; Destinee Chang RBI.
Reported by Allen Goo
KAPOLEI 9, KAIMUKĪ 2
Tanisha Aniya pitched a three-hitter and had two hits and two RBIs, lifting the Hurricanes over the Bulldogs in a first-round game. Alyssa Aipa hit a solo homer for Kapolei. Mikki Morihara had two RBIs for Kaimukī.
KAIMUKI (3-10) 200 000 0—2 3 4
KAPOLEI (7-6) 520 011 X—9 9 1
Ehlen Awaya and Mikki Morihara. Tanisha Aniya and Chalei Kailikea. W — Aniya. L — Awaya.
Leading hitters — Kaimukī: Lindsey Matsunaga 2-4; Morihara 2 RBIs. Kapolei: Mikela Manewa 2 RBIs; Alyssa Aipa solo homer; Ashalyn Umiamaka 2 RBIs; Aniya 2-4, double, 2 RBIs.
Reported by Jasmine Dang
WAI'ANAE 3, KAHUKU 2
Christina Rabanes' RBI double capped a two-run fifth inning that helped the Seariders beat the Red Raiders in a first-round game. Jazmyn Savini had two hits for Wai'anae. Kylee Dicion-Leong batted 2 for 3 for Kahuku.
KAHUKU (3-10) 010 001 0—2 6 2
WAI'ANAE (8-5) 000 120 X—3 5 1
Brookelinn Beatty, Kelile Ching (6) and C. Laulu. Pililani Keopuhiwa and Kristi Keomalu. W — Keopuhiwa. L — Beatty.
Leading hitters — Kahuku: K. Latu 2-4; Kylee Dicion-Leong 2-3; T. Yamamoto RBI. Wai'anae: Jazmyn Savini 2-3; Christina Rabanes double, RBI; Cheaneai Manuel RBI.
Reported by Lincoln Naiwi