WAIMEA — In front of a packed crowd at Waimea Canyon Park and with the league title on the line, the Warriors upended the Menehune in a marathon game Tuesday night.
Kapaa High School’s varsity softball team defeated Waimea High School, 23-13, in a playoff game to win the school’s third straight Kauai Interscholastic Federation championship.
“You know, every game we play with Waimea is like a championship game,” said Kapaa head coach Francis Takasaki. “We got to give credit to the other two schools. They came out this season, and they really put up good competition. I don’t think we would have wanted it any other way but to finish like this.”
He added of winning a third consecutive league title: “Of course, it’s a great thing. We give our kids all the credit. We worked hard this season, and we had to make a lot of adjustments along the way.”
The Warriors and Menehune combined for 36 hits — Kapaa had the lion’s share with 24, and Waimea had 12.
Kapaa (11-2 KIF, 4-2 2nd round, 1-0 playoff) shot out to a 17-5 lead after the top of the fifth inning and threatened to end the game early on the 10-run mercy rule.
The Warriors plated six runs on four hits in the top of the fifth. Warriors starting pitcher Seijia Makanani hit a two-RBI single to left field, and infielder Kaia Davis-Caberto and designated player Shaylin Rivera each knocked RBI singles.
While the Warriors piled on the hits, Takasaki also gave credit to his starting pitcher.
“We really tried to keep her hidden throughout the season in the event it would be a showdown like this today,” Takasaki said. “We’re really happy for her. She really came through for us, and got the job done.”
Facing the possibility of closing early, Waimea (7-6 KIF, 5-1 2nd round, 0-1 playoff) scored five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to extend the game.
Menehune infielder Kieren Henderson knocked a three-RBI double in the inning, and outfielder Taira Abreu and infielder Maegan Soares each drew a walk with the bases loaded to plate a run.
“The girls put up a good fight throughout the game. They never gave up on offense,” said Waimea head coach Teddy Perreira. “Just, we made too much mistakes on the defensive side. Couldn’t keep us in the game making a lot of mistakes. A lot of errors tonight.”
Errors undid the Menehune. In the top of the second inning, Kapaa scored five runs as Waimea was tagged for four errors.
“It would have been a closer game, but hats off to Kapaa. They swing the bat good tonight,” Perreira said. “But the girls will keep going strong. This isn’t over. We still have states to go to. This team is going to be fresh, and they’ll be ready for states.”
Kapaa left 10 runners on base and recorded five errors. Rivera was 5 for 6 batting, including a solo home run in the sixth inning, and had two RBIs. Davis-Caberto was 5 for 5 with a double, scored five runs and once reached first base on an error.
Makanani got the win for Kapaa. In a complete-game effort, Makanani totaled 10 strikeouts and 10 walks.
Waimea left 10 runners on base and recorded seven errors. Henderson was 4 for 5 at the plate with a double and totaled five RBIs. Designated player Kiana Kaiwi was 3 for 5 with an RBI double and scored three runs.
Menehune starter Nikayla Oyamot-Taniguchi took the loss. Also pitching a complete game, Oyamot-Taniguchi had four walks and three hit-by-pitches.
Both Kapaa and Waimea will represent the KIF at the 2019 Datahouse Softball Championships-Division II state tournament, which begins May 1 on Maui.
Kapaa, as the league champ, will likely get a seed and a first-round bye. Waimea, as the KIF runner-up, will likely be unseeded and play in the opening round.
“Great opportunity again for the girls,” Takasaki said. “Again, we’re really happy that Waimea will be making it up there also.”
Perreira said of looking forward to the postseason: “Let’s hope the girls grow off this game here. The defense has got to work harder. If we cut down the mistakes, then we’ll be OK.”
Nick Celario, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.