Kohala senior Mikayla Kekoa was dependable as ever, and No. 8 batter and freshman Leiana Carvalho drove in the go-ahead run.
The Cowgirls defeated Waialua 6-5 in the HHSAA Division II semifinals on Friday on Maui, reaching the championship for the first time.
In the other semifinal defending state champion Saint Francis beat Kamehameha-Hawaii 7-1 in a rematch from last year’s title game.
Brooke Baptiste went six innings and gave up seven runs in the loss.
Kaula Martin batted 2 for 3 to lead the Warriors (19-1), who had just four hits and play Waialua for third place at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Kohala (14-6) plays Saint Francis (14-4) for the state championship at 5 p.m. Saturday at Patsy Mink field.
The Cowgirls led 5-0 after four innings, but the Bulldogs rallied for five runs in the top of the fifth inning.
In the bottom of the fifth, Laila Caravalho singled, Kayla Juan-Kealoha reached on an error, and Anela Cazimero-Roxburgh walked.
After Haven Guerrero recorded a strikeout, Leiana Carvalho grounded out to shortstop to score Caravalho for a 6-5 lead. Guerrero got out of the inning with another groundout.
Then Kekoa pitched shutout ball over the next two innings for the complete-game win. Her defense made to errors, which cost her two unearned runs.
Caravalho batted 4 for 4 with an RBI, Carvalho, a freshman left fielder, and Harley Yamasaki each drove in two runs for Kohala, which finished with eight hits.
In the second, Carvalho had an RBI groundout, and the Cowgirls added four runs in the third. Caravalho pounded an RBI triple, Caravalho scored on a wild pitch, and Yamasaki added a two-run triple for a 5-0 lead.
Guerrero pitched three innings and gave up a run in the loss for the Bulldogs (10-4).
“The girls played hard, we made some errors but it wasn’t too bad,” Kohala coach Terrance Alcoran said. “Mikayla pitched a good game. We did everything we needed to do. It was our best game of the season.. Leiana is only a freshman, and she was clutch.”
The Bulldogs could only score in the fifth against Kekoa, who was getting inside strikes with her fastball and curveball.
When she ran into disarray in the fifth, Kekoa stepped out of the pitching circle and looked at the Valley Isle’s scenery to collect herself.
“I had to step back and look at the mountains to calm myself,” she said. “I had to settle down and keep my composure. We had a little scare but pulled through. Our freshman pulled the end of the lineup’s rope for us. They played their hearts out.”
Kohala’s first championship appearance was a great surprise for Alcoran, who always had a fighting chance with an ace like Kekoa.
“I’ve been coaching a long time, and it’s the first time in my life,” he said. “I knew one day we’d get here. We’ve got to win on Saturday and show that we can play ball on the Big Island.
“Mikayla was amazing. She was telling our girls where to be. She took the lead and was getting outs. She took control of the game.”
Honokaa 4, Kapaa 0: The Dragons eliminated the Warriors in a consolation game, behind Tehani Epenesa’s four-hitter. In six innings, she struck out two and walked three.
Alexis Martinez and Ceelyn Gali-Luero each batted 1 for 3 with an RBI for the Dragons (13-7), who play Waimea for fifth place at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Campbell 15, Kealakehe 0: The Sabers exploded for 12 runs in the first innings and finished with 13 hits.
The Waveriders (11-8) were held to just two hits and committed four errors.
Punahou knocked off Kamehameha-Hawaii 18-4 in the semifinals.
Nani Spaar scored two goals, while Aubrey Carter and Ocean Akau had one each for the Warriors play Kaiser for third place at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
Baldwin eliminated Hawaii Prep 7-3.
Gabby Pike, Chloe Hughes, and Jackie Payne scored for Ka Makani.
In consolation play in Honolulu, Hilo def. KS-Maui 2-1, while Mililani tripped BIIF champion Kamehameha 2-0.
In D-II Makua Lani beat Nanakuli 2-1 and HPA bested Pearl City 2-0, setting up a BIIF title game rematch at 11 a.m. Saturday in the fifth place game at Blaisdell Center.
No stats were available from the HHSAA.