Wai'anae starts strong to deny Kealakehe, 7-2 Sabers' 'A' game leaves Rough Riders smarting
By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
Pi'ilani Smith-Keopuhiwa pitched a five-hitter with six strikeouts and no walks and went 2 for 2 with a home run and three RBIs yesterday to help Wai'anae defeat Kealakehe, 7-2, in the first round of the DataHouse Softball State Championships.
The Seariders, making their first Division I state tournament appearance in recent memory, improved to 11-6 in the regular and postseason and will face No. 1 seed and O'ahu Interscholastic Association champ Mililani (12-3) in today's 5 p.m. quarterfinal at Rainbow Wahine Stadium.
Wai'anae, the OIA's fifth-place team, defeated Mililani once during the regular season.
"We've always known we could do it," said Seariders senior shortstop Kyree Naiwi, who went 2 for 4 with a double, home run and two RBIs yesterday. "We've always been focused on getting to this point."
Wai'anae took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning after Samantha Kuakini reached on a one-out single and scored on Naiwi's double. The Seariders then exploded for five runs in the third, capitalizing on two Waveriders errors and banging out five hits, highlighted by Smith-Keopuhiwa's three-run homer over the left-field fence.
Big Island Interscholastic Federation runner-up Kealakehe (8-3) answered with two runs in the fourth, on Brooke Rivera's RBI triple down the left-field line and Kihani Palmer-Kahahanui's run-scoring double to center.
But that would be it for the Waveriders, as Smith-Keopuhiwa allowed only two hits and faced the minimum nine batters over the final three innings.
KEALAKEHE (8-3) 000 200 0 — 2 5 4
WAI'ANAE (11-6) 105 001 X — 7 11 0
Kihani Palmer-Kahahanui, Summer McEntee (3) and Ciana Matsuoka, Nicole Rivera (3). Pi'ilani Smith-Keopuhiwa and Kristi Keomalu. W — Smith-Keopuhiwa. L — Palmer-Kahahanui.
Leading hitters — Kealakehe: Palmer-Kahahanui 2-3, RBI; Brooke Rivera triple, RBI. Wai'anae: Smith-Keopuhiwa 2-2, home run, 3 RBIs; Kyree Naiwi 2-4, double, home run, 2 RBIs; Aukai Hauhio 2-4.
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