With only a few games to play and no BIIF championship waiting at the finish line, a season-defining game is hard to come by this year for Big Island high school teams.
Hawaii Prep softball found theirs, and it couldn’t have happened on a more perfect day.
HPA defeated Kamehameha 13-10 Thursday in Waimea, on Ka Makani’s senior day. HPA senior catcher Sarah Taniguchi led the way for Ka Makani, hitting 2 for 3 with a home run in what is scheduled to be HPA’s final home game this year.
“I was feeling ecstatic,” Taniguchi said. “I think the energy that we brought to the field with it being the senior game helped me get into the zone of really wanting to push to win. Knowing that Kamehameha is a pretty good team and usually hard to beat, I was super excited when I hit that home run.”
Taniguchi is ending her career at HPA on a high note, after her junior and senior seasons didn’t go according to plan due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This coming week won’t be her last time on a softball field — despite a lack of BIIF games the last two seasons, Taniguchi has committed to play at Pacific University, a Division III school in Oregon.
“It wasn’t the year that I expected, but being able to play only the few games that we have has been an awesome opportunity and I’m so glad they finally let us play,” Taniguchi said. “The fact is that I’m going off to college next year, and I wanted to play in college, but not having games really affected my chances at being able to be on a team. But because of COVID, we’ve filmed all our games, and having the film actually helped me with finding a college.”
Johnna Lorenzo finished off Kamehameha in dramatic fashion. The HPA junior, who was 2 for 3 in the game, hit the walk-off three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning to end the two-hour time limited game.
“It was so exciting. It was awesome just to feel proud of ourselves,” Lorenzo said. “We’re proud of our seniors, we’re proud of our coaches and we’re proud of our players and our performance in general. We did so good.”
Ka Makani pitcher Kina’u Grace pitched a complete game, striking out five Warriors.
Center fielder and leadoff batter Kailena Akau also had a home run for Ka Makani.
HPA coach Travis Bondallian said the win was “huge” for the team.
“The girls have been coming up short the past few games so they really deserve to get this win,” Bondallian said. “I’m proud of them and I am very blessed to have the opportunity to coach them.”
Going into the final week of the shortened spring season, soon the HPA seniors will leave the team to Lorenzo and the other young Ka Makani, who could have a full schedule and a chance at a BIIF championship in 2022.
”We just need to work together and communicate more. We need to have confidence when we go up to bat and just confidence in general,” Lorenzo said. “A lot of the girls on our team right now are new to the game and I just want to build their confidence and have them feeling that they are capable of winning. It’s not so much about performance as it is just mental.”