Kalani claims first OIA White title
• Photo gallery: OIA White softball
By Kalani Takase
Advertiser Staff Writer
WAIPI'O — The Kalani softball team was right where it wanted to be facing a one-run deficit going into the bottom of the sixth inning last night. The Falcons reclaimed the lead — this time for good — with a three-run inning to realize what they call their "destiny."
Kalani (13-1) pounded out 12 hits and held on to win its first O'ahu Interscholastic Association White Division championship with a 12-10 win over Waialua (10-3) at Patsy T. Mink Central O'ahu Regional Park.
"We knew that this (championship) was ours and we had to go get it," said Falcons junior catcher Kristi Belshe, who batted 3 for 4, including a two-run homer in the third inning. "We knew deep inside that we were meant to be here."
Kalani head coach Melissa Marquez said she told her team "they would need to battle," throughout the game and to "continue to hit the ball like we have all year."
Her team responded with seven batters recording base hits, including four with multiple hits.
After Waialua went ahead 10-9 in the top of the sixth on an RBI single by Michaela Chalker, the Kalani batters went back to work in the bottom of the inning.
Chelsea Yamamoto led off with a double and reached third on an error. Hikaru Kumagai followed with a run-scoring single to left field and advanced to second a bloop single to left by Rayme Awaya. Belshe, the clean-up hitter, doubled in Kumagai, but Awaya was erased at third on a force out. Two batters later, Kristiann Endow hit an RBI single to score Belshe and make it 12-10.
"This feels great to win the school's first title. This was our chance to leave our mark.," Belshe said. "We felt like we had to make a statement and prove ourselves."
Waialua managed to get a base runner on in the top of the seventh, but Awaya, who relieved starting pitcher Jade Teruya in the second inning, stranded her at first and earned the win.
"We're still in the running even despite this loss, so we'll have to get some momentum going again," said Waialua head coach Jay Keao, whose team has already qualified for the state tournament. "We'll try and gain something from this and turn it around for states."
Kalani jumped to an early lead after Awaya's two-run double in the first, but the Bulldogs sent nine batters to the plate in the second to pull ahead 6-2. Belshe's two-run homer to left-center in the third cut the Waialua lead to 6-4, but the Bulldogs extended it again with three runs in the fourth to make the score 9-4.
The Falcons added a run in the fourth and tied it at 9 with a four-run fifth. Kelli Muramaru hit a bases-clearing triple in the inning as Kalani capitalized on two Waialua errors.
"It's more exciting when it's a high-scoring game," Belshe said. "We tend to feed off of each others' success."
Kalani is the sixth different White Division champion since its inception in 2005. The Hawai'i High School Athletic Association/Datahouse State Championships are May 11-14 at CORP and Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.
Also yesterday, Kalāheo beat 'Aiea, 4-3, in the third-place game.
WAIALUA (10-3) 060 301 0 — 10 12 3
KALANI (13-1) 202 143 X — 12 12 8
Karina Bayudan and Jessica Temblor. Jade Teruya, Rayme Awaya (2) and Kristi Belshe. W — Awaya. L — Bayudan.
Leading hitters — Kalani: Chelsea Yamamoto 2-4, 2 doubles; 2 runs; Hirakura Kumagai RBI, 4 runs; Awaya 2-4; Belshe 3-4, homer RBI, 3 runs; Kristiana Endow RBI; Kelli Muramaru 2-4, double, 3 RBIs. Waialua: Althia Dicion 2 runs; Alyssiah Hernandez 4-5, double; Temblor double, 2 runs; Pua Naki 2-5, double; Michaela Chalker RBI; Ciara Balidoy double.