Mililani riding momentum into states
A year after finally shedding the bridesmaid label, Mililani is back for another walk down the aisle this week as No. 1 seed in the DataHouse Division I Softball State Championships.
First-round play begins today with four games at the University of Hawai'i's Rainbow Wahine Stadium.
O'ahu Interscholastic Association champ Mililani returns three key seniors who are aiming to play in their fourth straight title game: second baseman Kristi Oshiro, catcher Rebecca Lee and shortstop Courtney Senas, who bat 1-2-3 in the order and provide solid defense and leadership.
They enter this tournament with plenty of momentum, after routing Castle, 20-2, in the OIA title game May 1. Mililani pounded out 22 hits, including nine doubles and three homers, and got solid pitching from sophomore left-hander Alysia Maddison in the five-inning victory.
Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion Mid-Pacific is No. 2, Big Island Interscholastic Federation champion Waiākea is No. 3 and Maui Interscholastic League champion Baldwin is No. 4.
All four teams received first-round byes and will open play in tomorrow's quarterfinals.
The most intriguing first-round matchup today is Roosevelt against Campbell, both OIA Red Conference division winners (East and West).
Roosevelt finished 11-1 in the Eastern Division, but finished 1-2 in the OIA tournament to claim the league's sixth and final state berth. Last season, the Rough Riders won the OIA championship and finished runner-up to Mililani in the state tournament.
Campbell finished 12-0 in the Western Division, but lost to Castle in the OIA tournament semifinals, and wound up placing third.
Sabers senior right-hander Katie Manumā is one of the hardest throwers in the state, and will be headed to BYU next season. Lead-off hitter Gerika Pantohan, a senior third baseman, hits for average and power. She will play at the University of Hawai'i next season.
Another noteworthy first-round matchup today is ILH runner-up Punahou against OIA No. 4 Kapolei.
The Buffanblu are led by senior right-hander Jasmine Ioane, who pitched a one-hitter and hit a two-run walk-off homer to hand Mid-Pacific its first loss of the season April 17.
The Hurricanes have sophomore right-hander Winona Pauline, who pitched a four-hitter with 11 strikeouts in a victory over Roosevelt in the OIA tournament April 29.
Here is a closer look at each team (records are for regular and postseason):
Coach: Joe Duran
Berth: MIL champion
Notable: The Bears drew statewide attention after winning a gender equity lawsuit that will provide for improved facilities, and in the meantime they continued their string of MIL titles. But it wasn't easy, as Lahainaluna won the league tournament to force a winner-take-all game for the overall championship, which Baldwin won with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Sophomore pitcher Kaitlyn Watanabe is one of many returnees from a team that graduated two seniors last year. Tayler Shimizu had the game-winning hit in the MIL title game.
COACH: David Perreira
BERTH: OIA third place
NOTABLE: The Sabers have one of the state's most dominant pitchers in senior Katie Manumā, a hard-throwing right-hander who has signed a national letter of intent to play for Brigham Young University next season. Infielder Gerika Pantohan has signed with Hawai'i. Catcher Summer Palipti is solid on defense and can contribute on offense.
COACH: Jon Berinobis
BERTH: OIA runner-up
NOTABLE: The Knights made a surprise run at the OIA championship, upsetting Campbell in the semifinals, but got routed 20-2 in the title game. Maycee Moe is the go-to pitcher and also is dangerous at the plate. Leisha Li'ili'i has home run power and is one of the league's most feared sluggers.
Coach: Tony Saffery
Berth: OIA fourth place
Notable: The Hurricanes went through an up-and-down regular season before knocking off defending league champ Roosevelt in the OIA quarterfinals. Tanisha Aniya can contribute with pitching — to go along with Winona Pauline — and hitting. Aimee Aipa, Kaulana Cristobal and Dorian Acierto provide more offense.
Coach: Wes Takimoto
Berth: BIIF runner-up
Notable: The Waveriders, with only one senior, won the Western Division in the BIIF's new geographically based setup before falling to three-time defending champ Waiākea in the league title game. Summer McEntee tossed seven innings.
Coach: Lei Nakamura
Berth: MIL runner-up
Notable: The Lunas appear to be peaking after making a late run at the MIL crown that Baldwin had a stronghold on for most of the past decade. Freshman pitcher Hope Morikawa pitched a five-hit shutout in the league tournament final, a 4-0 victory that forced a one-game playoff for the overall title. Brenna Nakamura helps lead the offense.
COACH: Willie Quinn
BERTH: ILH champion
NOTABLE: The Owls rode of the arm of sophomore right-hander Keiki Carlos and an efficient defense combined with timely hitting to their first ILH championship. Carlos is not always a big strikeout pitcher, but she is tough on batters and keeps them off-balanced, forcing a lot of ground balls. She made an impressive debut in last year's state tournament. MPI showed comeback ability, scoring five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to rally past Punahou, 9-5, in the league title game. Tasi Doktor and Kaydi Kochi are dependable hitters.
COACH: Rose Antonio
Berth: OIA champion
Notable: The Trojans do not have a consistently dominant pitcher as in past years, but the offense and solid fielding produced another championship. Alysia Maddison has shown she can do the job in the pitcher's circle. The top three batters — second baseman Kristi Oshiro, catcher Rebecca Lee and shortstop Courtney Senas — are very tough outs and set the table with speed and power. Andi Felise is another dangerous hitter with power.
COACH: Bob Makahilahila
Berth: ILH runner-up
Notable: The Buffanblu made a late-season run at the title after finishing third in the first round. They won the second-round title to force the winner-take-all finale against Mid-Pacific, leading 5-4 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning before falling, 9-5. Senior pitcher Jasmine Ioane has four years of starting experience, and she also is a top hitter along with Sarah Hiramitsu.
COACH: Clay Okamura
Berth: OIA sixth place
Notable: The Rough Riders won their second straight OIA East crown, only to stumble in the playoffs by losing their quarterfinal game against Kapolei and then dropping to sixth place after a 2-1 loss to Wai'anae. Pitcher Lianna Bajarin and catcher Lindsey Takekawa form a veteran battery, and shortstop Charisse Tanabe has a top-flight glove. Kamalei Pitoy is one of several dangerous hitters.
COACH: Bo Saiki
Berth: BIIF champion
Notable: The Warriors won their fourth straight league championship by blanking West champ Kealakehe, 9-0, after scoring seven runs in the first two innings. Tiffany Anzai tossed the shutout. Waiākea graduated only four seniors from last year's team that reached the state semifinals. Second baseman Kamie Imai, who earned a basketball scholarship to Utah State, has been one of the state's top athletes for the past three years. Malania Esemora is a dangerous hitter.
Coach: Lincoln Naiwi
Berth: OIA fifth place
Notable: The Seariders are making a rare state tournament appearance, in just their second year back in the OIA's Red Conference after several years in the White (Division II). But they are a dangerous team, having knocked off league champ Mililani for the first time in many seasons. Shortstop Kyree Naiwi anchors the offense and defense, and pitcher Wehi Keopuhiwa limited defending OIA champ Roosevelt to two hits in the league's fifth-place game.