Menehune come home champions

LIHU‘E — Waimea High School softball coach Teddy Perreira is normally a man of few words, and Sunday there was no need for words as Perreira went off to a corner at Lihu‘e Airport, overcome by emotion and reflection on the 15-0 season.

Perreira led the team to the championship of the Datahouse Hawai‘i High School Athletic Association Division II state softball championships on O‘ahu Saturday night with a 12-4 win over Nanakuli at the University of Hawai‘i Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium in Honolulu.

While the team celebrated its victorious return to Kaua‘i Sunday morning amidst golfers arriving for the state boys golf championship, which starts Tuesday, there was clearly a missing player — Deannalynn Tafiti, the freshman pitcher who picked up the win after pitching through three games at the state tournament.

“She was nursing herself through the entire time,” said Wayne Fujimoto, a team parent and retired fireman. “But by the end of the championship game, she was hurting so much, she could hardly walk.”

The Fujimotos, awaiting the return of the team with the smattering of vocal, overjoyed parents and fans, said the ambulance took her to Queen’s Hospital where she remained hospitalized while her team caught the flight home Sunday.

“We went to visit her after the game and the family of the Nanakuli catcher who was taken away by ambulance during the game was all there,” said Sheri Ephan, a team mom.

“Coach Teddy spent some time in the hospital with Deannalynn while the rest of the team went back for some rest.”

Nanakuli, who beat Kaua‘i High School, 14-8 on Friday to advance to the championships, battled the Menehune through six innings at a 3-3 deadlock before Waimea broke open the game on back-to-back home runs from Krysta Kali and Taylor “Kawehi” Ephan, icing the win with five runs in the seventh inning.

“The support was unreal,” said Hazel Fujimoto, a team mom. “The stadium was packed. The volleyball boys were there and families came just for the game.”

Perreira said the camaraderie among the athletes from Kaua‘i was undescribable.

“We went to support the Kaua‘i girls when they played, and they came when we played,” he said.

Hazel said one of the biggest supporters was Becky Malapit, a Kaua‘i team mom who graduated from Waimea High School.

“She kept saying it was too quiet and how good it felt to cheer for Blue again,” Hazel said.

Kaua‘i High School, just one game away from facing the top-seeded Waimea for the Division II title, finished third in the championships following an 8-4 win over Kalaheo High School Saturday in a game shortened to six innings by time constraints.

Daeja Cummings, Red Raiders first baseman, finished two-for-three in the box, both bangs being home runs, and Kyana Hirokane was a perfect four-for-four with three doubles and three RBI to lead the 11 hits tallied by Kaua‘i.

Karlyee Malapit, the third baseperson and Becky’s daughter, finished with a double with two RBI and Kirra Jaquias rounded out the offense with two hits for the third-place win.

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