Waimea XXX defends slow-pitch title

It is said that a solid defense wins championships, and that is true in slow-pitch softball. But it also takes solid pitching and hitting.

Waimea XXX put together all three phases of the game to defend its state softball tourney title over the weekend. In the process, Waimea became the first neighbor island team to repeat as champions.

 The 28th edition of the annual slow-pitch softball tournament took place August 2-7 on O‘ahu at the Patsy Mink Central O‘ahu Regional Park and Lanakila Park. Sixty-nine teams representing alma mater from across the state participated in this year’s tournament. Kaua‘i fielded 8 teams: one team representing Kaua‘i High School, two representing Kapa‘a High School and five representing Waimea High School.

 XXX won all seven of its games to defend its title. The two most serious threats to the title defense were highly regarded teams from Mililani and Leilehua High School. The game versus Leilehua was tied 6-all after 6 1/2 innings of the seven-inning game, with Waimea XXX needing a game-winning single by Kelly Batis to score Ashley Vidinha and take the 7-6 win. Later in the day the Waimea team found themselves down big against Mililani, falling behind 11-1 after two complete innings. The team used timely hitting to begin to chip away at the deficit, eventually winning 17-14 to advance in the winner’s bracket of the tournament.

 The championship game was Sunday against Campbell Select, the alumni team from Campbell High School. Because Waimea XXX was the only undefeated team left in the double-elimination tournament, Campbell would need to defeat Waimea twice to take the title, but Waimea only needed one game to defend it.

In the final, Waimea had contributions from the entire lineup to tally 28 hits, highlighted by 2 homers from Kaua Aranio and a grand slam from tournament MVP Ashley Vidinha. The final score was 28-9 in the 6th inning, ending the game via the 10-run mercy rule.

 The title comes with a $1000 scholarship to benefit a student at Waimea High School.

 This year’s tournament was dedicated to the memory of Ben Naki, who passed away earlier this year. Ben founded this alumni tournament in 1984 with eight teams participating. The tournament has continued to grow throughout the years.

Because of the huge interest year-in and year-out, tournament organizers hope to open the field to 80 teams for the 2012 edition.

Waimea XXX will surely be there to defend its title again.

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