It would have been perfectly understandable if Ka’u coach Donovan Emmsley wished for a heavy dose of rain about halfway through Wednesday’s softball game at Waiakea.
When was the last time the Trojans led the Warriors by three runs in the fourth inning?
That four-time defending BIIF Division I champion Waiakea rallied for a 9-6 victory was perhaps predictable, but the result underscored this: Ka‘u is paying a closer attention to detail this season.
“Just the consistency (is better),” Emmsley said, “the girls are trying harder, just consistently getting outs and everybody making contact.
“More hustling and with the strive they have now, it’s just easier.”
The Trojans (3-6) matched their win total from last season, Emmsley’s first, with a 12-11 win against Keaau on Saturday, and the score of season so far was reached last week: Ka’u 27, Pahoa 13.
Emmsley says he approaches every game the same no matter the opponent. That wouldn’t appeared to have been a wise policy entering Wednesday’s game, but left-hander Shailani Vierra threw strikes, Tiare Wong Yuen hit two doubles and scored twice and Dusty Emmsley hit a two-run single to help stake the Trojans to a 6-3 lead after they scored four times in the fourth.
“For being this close against Waiakea, I clouldn’t ask for better,” Donovan Emmsley said. “This is the best we’ve ever played against Waiakea. Usually (they TKO) us in the third or fourth inning.”
Tristen Cullio pitched 3 2/3 innings for the Warriors (7-1), before ace Halee Sweat went the rest of the way in victory, firing 3 1/3 scoreless frames, striking out four and allowing three hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
The Warriors came right back with four runs in the bottom of the fourth. Alyssa McKeague led off with a single, moved to third on a passed ball and a wild pitch, then scored on Ziara Tosie’s sacrifice fly. Jolene Hirata tripled and scored on a a single by Alize Ka’apani, who scored the tying run on an error on Kayla Kodani’s bunt hit. Kodani crossed with the go-ahead run on Sweat’s sacrifice fly.
Ka’apani, a big run producer for Waiakea this season, hit one of her two doubles to lead off the sixth and scored, finishing 3 for 4 with three runs scored.
Waiakea belted 15 hits, including two apiece by Hirata, Kodani, Lyndsey-Mae Carvalho, Cullio and McKeague. Tosie led of the bottom of the first with a triple and scored on Hirata’s hit to highlight a three-run rally.
Still, Vierra largely did what her coach asked and didn’t walk a batter, striking out two in six inning of work.
“She did a great job,” Donovan Emmsley said.
Vierra’s emergence in the circle has allowed Cece Silva-Kamei to play shortstop this season to help stabilize the defense.
Each team made three errors.
At the plate, Vierra, who singled in a run in the second, and Silva-Kamei were each 2 for 4.
It wasn’t enough, but close was just about good enough for the Trojans.
“To me, I’m happy as long as they play hard, have fun and they love what they do,” Donovan Emmsley said.
• Kohala 14, Kealakehe 5: Mikayla Kekoa pitched three innings with five strikeouts and homered and doubled among her three hits in Kapaau as the Cowgirls improved to 3-0 against Division I teams this season.
Cheylin Imai ignited Kohala (8-2) with a triple and three RBIs, Laila Caravalho tripled with two runs batted in and Harley Yamazaki doubled in two runs.
After Kekoa walked two batters in her stint in the circle, Pilila’i Kaai pitched four innings and walked four.
For the Waveriders (4-3), Kaylyn Villanueva finished with three hits, including a triple, and Chandice Fujihara-Kaai and Nanea Kaluau each had two hits. Telsea Taketa started and pitched one inning and Mia Joaquin went the final five, walking four and striking out four.
Kealakehe made five errors, and Kohala had three.
• Hilo 18, Pahoa 4: The Vikings (2-5) picked up the road win, but statistics were not avaiable. The Daggers fell to 0-9.