Back-to-back home runs lift Menehune to softball title

HONOLULU — It was a position the Waimea Menehune had been in before. Several times this season, the Menehune softball team found itself in a deadlock late, and each time they found a way to win. The only difference between this game and those in the past is that when the Menehune found that path to victory Saturday night, they were crowned state champions.

Back-to-back homeruns from Krysta Kali and Kawehi Ephan broke a 3-3 sixth-inning tie and the Menehune added five more runs to in the seventh inning to beat Nanakuli 12-4 in the DataHouse Hawai‘i High School Athletic Association Division II State Softball Championship on O‘ahu.

Deannalynn Tafiti picked up the win for the Menehune by pitching a complete game while limiting Nanakuli to five hits.

Kali finished the game with three hits and five RBI, Ulu Matagiese added three hits and a triple and Kristy Pimental had a double and drove in two runs.

The Menehune wasted no time showing Nanakuli why they were the top-seeded team in the tournament. Waimea jumped on Nanakuli starting pitcher Chyanne Koko for three runs in the top of the first inning. But Nanakuli chipped back with a run in the bottom of the inning and tied the game at 3-3 with two runs in the third inning.

After the first inning, the Menehune struggled to get much off of Koko. Then came the sixth inning.

With two runners on base Kali pulled a ball deep down the left field line. Kali ran toward first and used some body English to pull the ball fair for a three-run homer.

While Kali’s home run was fair by a slim margin, Ephan followed with a no-doubter. Riding the momentum of the crowd and cheers from the bench, Ephan unleashed on a ball and sent it over the netting behind the left field wall for the 7-4 lead.

The Menehune gave one run back in the bottom of the inning, but secured the title with five runs in the top of the seventh inning.

The Menehune finished the season with a perfect 15-0 record.

After the game, the DII All-Tournament team was announced and the Menehune placed five players on the roster while the Kaua‘i Red Raiders added a pair.

For Waimea Kali, Sienna Santiago, Matagiese, Ephan and Tafiti made the team while Daeja Cummings and Kyana Hirokane were Kaua‘i’s representatives.

Matagiese and Paulo-Meyers were named co-Most Outstanding Players of the tournament.

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