KAILUA-KONA — As of late, battling adversity has become commonplace for Konawaena.
So with their season on the line on Saturday at Kealakehe High School, the Wildcats responded the only way they knew how — with big plays.
After falling behind early in the second game of a doubleheader, Konawaena continued to fight, using a grand slam by Jayla Medeiros to outslug Kamehameha 10-8 and send the series to a tie-breaking Game 3. The rubber match will be held Monday at 3 p.m. at Kealakehe.
“They played well the first game but needed to clean up a couple of things,” said Konawaena athletic director Kellye Krug, who is currently serving as the team’s head coach. “To be resilient enough to come back and take care of business in the second game showed discipline and heart.”
The Warriors won the front end of the doubleheader 7-6, staging their own late comeback.
In bottom of the sixth, Kamehameha’s Kaulawena Martin led off with a walk. Kuulei Ili followed with a double to left, putting runners on first and third with no outs. Kawehi Ili then grounded out to second, bringing in Martin to tie the game. Diono Lincoln reached on an error, allowing Kuulei Ili to score the eventual deciding run.
Brooke Baptiste picked up a victory in the opening game, going the distance and allowing six runs, five earned, off two hits. She walked one and struck out three.
Shaylann Marie Grace took the loss, tossing six innings, and allowing seven runs, six earned, off nine hits. She walked three and struck out three.
“Things worked for us in the first game and things worked for them in the second game,” said Kamehameha head coach Akea Kiyuna. “I think we are well matched and there are strong players on both sides.”
The second game proved to be just as competitive as the first. Kamehameha took an early 4-1 lead in the top of the second inning off a two-run single by Lincoln, who despite only being a freshman, leads the team in most offensive categories.
“Dioni is a very disciplined hitter,” Kiyuna said. “She brings a lot of maturity to the plate despite her age.”
Konawaena rallied in the bottom of the second inning. With two outs, Rachel Sato singled to center and Andi Uemura doubled to right. Grace walked to load the bases for Medeiros, who hit a Baptiste pitch over the right field fence, just out of the reach of Taylor Sullivan, who crashed over the wall trying to make the catch.
The grand slam put the Wildcats up 5-4.
“Jayla works really hard in practice and obviously she is a really strong girl. For her to have her work pay off in a moment like that, you can not ask for a better opportunity for an amazing kid,” said Krug. “Everyone has their moment to shine and she had hers today.”
Konawaena added to its lead in the third inning, but Kamehameha pushed three runs across the plate in the fourth thanks to a two-run double by Lincoln.
Down again, the Wildcats rallied one more time for four runs in the fifth thanks to two costly errors on plays at the plate by the Warriors.
“Kamehameha is an amazing team and every time they take the field you know it is going to be a battle,” Krug said. “Our girls knew exactly what to expect and they will know what to expect on Monday.”
Grace picked up the victory on a busy evening. She threw all seven innings, allowing eight runs off nine hits. She struck out two and walked four.
Baptiste started the game for the Warriors, but exited after two innings. She allowed five runs off four hits, while striking out two and walking two in a no-decision effort.
Sullivan threw the final four innings, she allowed five runs, but only one two hits. She walked three.
Kamehameha is going for its seventh consecutive BIIF title and second under the current coach. In a rematch of last year’s championship series, the Warriors needed three games to put the Wildcats away in 2017 as well. Konawaena is seeking its first BIIF title since 2011.