KAHULUI - Seeded as an underdog and facing some early deficits, the Lanai High School softball team came from behind in a big way to claim a Maui Interscholastic League championship.
The Pine Lasses beat Hana in both the Division II tournament final and overall title game Saturday at Keopuolani Park, by 14-4 scores in five innings each time.
Lanai had trailed by three runs in each game.
Nalani Plunkett (13) of Lanai High School is congratulated after homering in the fourth inning of the MIL?Division II tournament final Saturday at Patsy Mink Field.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
"Everyone was playing as a team, cheering for me and everyone else," said the Pine Lasses' Dezsiree Dameg, who pitched a complete game in the overall title contest, allowing two hits over the last 4 2/3 innings after the Dragons had taken a 3-0 lead in the first.
Dameg also pitched two shutout innings of relief in the first game, allowing one hit.
Lanai (8-3), the runner-up to Hana (8-3) in the MIL regular season, scored in each of the last four innings of the second game, sending 14 batters to the plate in an eight-run fifth - that rally was helped by three errors, two wild pitches and three walks.
"We felt like, if it's there, hit it, and if it's not, don't. Don't be that aggressive," said Pine Lasses coach Israel Zablan. "It's kind of good that we're not at home, because at home, they get all crazy."
Lanai had clinched its first state-tournament berth since 2008 by winning an MIL semifinal game Friday.
The state tournament begins on Oahu on May 2, and four of Hawaii's five league champions will get first-round byes.
The Dragons, making their fourth straight trip, are assured of playing in the first round.
"We just have to practice hard and get ready for states," said Hana's Sina Williams, who hit solo homers in each game. "This was helping us for states. It's going to be even harder, but we'll be ready."
The Pine Lasses' Kahelelani Zablan was 3-for-4 in the second game with an RBI double and run scored, and reached base six times in eight plate appearances on the day. Maile Herolaga was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored in the second game, and Megan Amby and Jessie Del Rosario each had two hits as well.
Del Rosario hit a three-run double in the third inning of the tournament final, which put the Pine Lasses in front for good - they trailed 4-1 after two innings.
Lanai's Nalani Plunkett hit a three-run homer in the fourth, and missed the cycle by a triple. She also scored three runs. In the second game, Plunkett was 1-for-3 with two RBIs.
The Pine Lasses' Noe Eskaran reached base all four times she came to the plate in the tournament final, and Dameg had two hits.
In both games, every player in Lanai's starting lineup reached base. Tiana Bala scored three runs in each game.
Makamae Smith had two hits in the first game for the Dragons, who had won both their meetings with the Pine Lasses in the regular season.
"They came out to play, Lanai did," Hana coach Louis Hoopai said. "From when we played them before, they were a different team."
* Brad Sherman is at email@example.com
MIL DIVISION II TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONSHIP
LANAI 14, HANA 4, 5 INNINGS
Lanai ..... 105 ..... 53-14 ..... 13 ..... 3
Hana ..... 220 ....... 00-4 ....... 5 ..... 3
Kahelelani Zablan, Dezsiree Dameg (4) and Megan Amby. Shalen-Brae Hoopai, Jaynalee Hoopai and Sina Williams. W-Zablan. L-S. Hoopai. HR-Lanai, Nalani Plunkett. Hana, Williams. 2B-Lanai, Plunkett, Jessie Del Rosario.
MIL DIVISION II OVERALL CHAMPIONSHIP
LANAI 14, HANA 4, 5 INNINGS
Lanai ..... 023 ..... 18-14 ..... 12 ..... 5
Hana ..... 300 ....... 01-4 ....... 4 ..... 5
Dezsiree Dameg and Megan Amby. Shalen-Brae Hoopai and Sina Williams. W-Dameg. L-Hoopai. HR-Hana, Williams. 2B-Lanai, Kahelelani Zablan. Hana, Brittany Smith.