Bears hand Lunas season’s first loss
KAHULUI – The Baldwin High School softball team’s level of frustration facing Lahainaluna had been growing for two-plus seasons.
The formula of Sanae Nakoa’s complete-game pitching, Kawena Cabrera’s clutch RBI double and defense that was flawless and sometimes spectacular helped the Bears break an eight-game losing streak against the Lunas in a 1-0 win Saturday at Patsy Mink Field.
“It’s been, like, a struggle to always beat them, but our defense was good and we just pulled through,” Nakoa said after striking out five batters and walking none in a three-hitter. “My defense made me confident. My rise was working good, they were really biting at it.”
Cabrera’s double scored Lyana Bermudez in the second inning, and the game became a battle between Nakoa and Lunas pitcher Hope Mo-rikawa down the stretch.
Morikawa, the returning Maui Interscholastic League Division I Player of the Year, also finished with a three-hitter, striking out one and walking two.
Both teams are now 6-1.
The Lunas had a runner thrown out at third base in the third, the only inning the two-time defending MIL champions put two on base. Bears center fielder Alysha Saka-moto made a nifty catch on Rhyn Lendio’s drive to the warning track to end the threat.
In the final inning, Nakoa induced a popup to shallow left by Haley Nakamura, and shortstop Kylie Rose Dickson made a nice catch in the wind for the first out. Nakoa then caught a pop fly off the bat of cleanup hitter Jessica Wallace, and another fly to Cabrera at third base ended the game.
“I was kind of nervous,” Nakoa said of facing the 3-4-5 hitters in the final inning. “But after the two pop flies I knew we had the game.”
Baldwin has won four straight games since losing to Lahainaluna on March 2.
“All we did was tie up the league,” said Bears coach Steve Morton. “It took me three years to finally get to them. We are always going to have good games against them. Sanae was very good on the mound, defense was solid today and our bats were a little bit weak, but we got the one hit by Kawena at a crucial time. One run, that was the game.”
The teams are scheduled to meet again on April 10, and could run into each other in the MIL tournament.
“Baldwin is a tough team, always,” said Lunas coach Lei Nakamura. “One run can make a big difference in a game like that. Sanae pitched well. These games are tough, so the next game is big. I think maybe we were so hungry and we wanted to go get it, it was hard. I’m not going to say it was from lack of focus, but maybe having too much aggressiveness.”
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hope Morikawa and Jessica Wallace; Sanae Nakoa and Sarah Abe. W-Nakoa. L-Morikawa. 2B-Baldwin: Kawena Cabrera.