Tafiti, Ephan lead Menehune to 12-4 season opening win

WAIMEA — The Waimea Menehune softball team didn’t take long to make a statement. The Menehune Wahine scored four runs in the first inning and relied on solid pitching and defense to beat the Kaua‘i Red Raiders, 12-4, Wednesday night in Waimea.

Freshman Deannalynn Tafiti notched her first win for the Menehune by limiting the Red Raiders to seven hits, striking out three and giving up only one earned run.

Waimea head coach Teddy Perreira said his young pitcher was impressive in her high school debut, showing that she has the guts to stick it out in tough situations.

“She battles on the mound,” Perreira said. “She’s working hard and getting better. Compared to where she was in the preseason, she’s gotten a lot better.”

Tafiti had plenty of room to work with, as the Menehune churned out 11 hits.

Senior catcher Kawehi Ephan led the team with three runs batted in, including a homerun to deep left field in the fifth inning. Ephan, one of two seniors on a young Menehune team, said the win was a good start to the season.

“We want to set a standard with this win and keep building on it,” Ephan said.

Krysta Kali knocked in two runs and doubled twice for the Menehune, while Sienna Santiago proved to be a thorn in the Red Raiders’ side on the basepath.

Santiago, the Waimea shortstop. reached base three times — twice on infield singles — and racked up five stolen bases.

“She’s a big weapon for us at leadoff,” Perreira said. “When she gets on base she has the green light.”

Ka‘a La‘amea pitched a complete game in a gutsy performance for the Red Raiders.

La‘amea struggled to find the zone in the first inning and loaded the bases after the first three batters. While the Menehune took advantage with four runs in that inning and two in the second, La‘amea settled down and was able to make it through the rest of the game.

“She showed a lot of composure for us on the mound today,” Kaua‘i head coach Cassie Wong said. “She’s a leader out there.”

The Red Raiders tried their best at the plate to stay in the game. After Waimea’s four run first, the Red Raiders bounced back with two in the second with back to back RBI singles from Khaya Bunao and Moana Waipo — Kaua‘i’s number six and seven batters.

But the Red Raiders went cold through the middle innings before scoring two in the fifth when the game was out of reach.

“We need to get our big hitters going,” Wong said. “The bottom half of our order really carried us tonight.”

The KIF softball season continues on Saturday when Waimea faces Kapa‘a in a doubleheader beginning at 10 a.m. in Kapa‘a. The second game will begin 30 minutes after the first game is completed.

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