HHSAA softball: Saint Francis overwhelms Kamehameha in D-II final

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald
    Kamehameha's Brooke Baptiste.

Kamehameha’s softball team doesn’t have to look any further than its brothers and sisters on the school’s girls basketball, boys soccer and baseball programs to see that winning state crowns is often a process.

Those teams all stubbed their toes more than once in a title game before coming back stronger the next time to bring home their most recent championship.

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Perhaps one day the Warriors’ softball team will look back on Friday night as a sweet memory, just a bump on the road that strengthened its resolve on the path to glory.

In the meantime, however, its first taste of a state final was a sour one from the start. Saint Francis made sure of that, scoring six runs in the first inning and cruising to a 10-0 TKO victory at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium in Honolulu to grab its second HHSAA Division II championship.

The unseeded yet ultimately unmatched Saints (13-3) of the ILH proved themselves to be not just the class of D-II but also one of the best teams in either class, knocking out a BIIF team for the third time in four days.

Saint Francis was the state runner-up last season, losing 4-3 to Aiea, and it hadn’t won a softball title since 2005, so junior Kailee Mahelona knows a thing or two about the process.

“This is so great, we worked all season for this and we busted out buts and I’m just proud of everyone, cause we all made a huge impact on getting a ‘W’ today,” Mahelona said on the OC16 postgame show.

The Saints’ heavy lifting came in Thursday’s semifinals when they rallied to score four runs in the seventh to edge BIIF runner-up Konawaena 8-7. Overall, the Saints outscored their opposition 41-8, including a 10-0 win against Kohala in the first round.

Looking to become the first Big Island team to bag a state softball title since Hilo in 1978, seven-time BIIF champion Kamehameha loaded the bases in the top of the first inning with one out against Sierrah Kupihea, but the Warriors stranded all three runners and then the roof caved in.

Mahelona, the No. 3 hitter, clubbed a two-run home run off Taylor Sullivan, the Warriors committed two errors and Brooke Baptiste had to be summoned to get the final two outs in the inning, but not before it was 6-0.

“I wasn’t expecting to hit anything big, I was just looking for my pitch,” Mahelona, who finished 2 for 3 with three RBIs and two runs, said of her homer. “I saw my inside pitch and I turned hard.”

Kupihea tossed a two-hitter and struck out four, appearing to use a rise ball to flummox Kamehameha. The junior retired 11 batters in a row before Baptiste walked in the fifth. Kuulei Ili and Dioni Lincoln had hits for the Warriors, who committed four errors.

Sullivan knows a thing or two about the process as well. The senior also was a starter on the Warriors’ girls basketball team, which claimed an elusive the state-II title in February after consecutive runner-up finishes.

Sullivan is bound for UCLA, and the softball team’s only other senior is Jessica Cameros, who provided the Warriors with their highlight of the night when she robbed Sammie Ofoia of a three-run home run by grabbing a ball at the fence in left field in the third inning.

The Warriors, who start three freshman and five underclassmen in all and will return Baptiste as their season ace, figure to be formidable again next season. So does Konawaena, which features a strong nucleus in Shaylynn Grace and Jayla Medeiros.

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Saint Francis owns two wins this season against Punahou, which played in Friday D-I final against Leilehua, giving it a legitimate case as the best team in the state.

“We beat a lot of good ILH teams, and we really deserve this win,” Mahelona said.

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