Baldwin wins MIL crown
KAHULUI – It was a three-season climb, but the Baldwin High School softball team returned to familiar territory on Monday night.
The Bears beat Lahainaluna 6-3 in front of a standing-room-only crowd at Patsy Mink Field in the fifth game of the season between the two, this one a playoff for the overall Maui Interscholastic League Division I pennant.
Skylynne Ellazar smacked two doubles and the Bears took advantage of seven Lunas’ errors to dethrone the two-time defending league champions. Baldwin won seven straight overall crowns before Lahainaluna won the last two.
“It feels so good,” Ellazar said after knocking in a run and scoring twice. “Our teammates backed us up 100 percent, Sanae (Nakoa) pitched such a great game, and we all got picked up when we were down.”
After a comeback attempt failed on Friday night when the Lunas won the MIL tournament final 8-6 after leading 6-0, the Bears held a players-only meeting before Monday night’s game.
“We all talked before the game and said that we were all going to play for each other and it just really came together this year,” Ellazar said.
Nakoa pitched a five-hitter with no strikeouts and one walk and her defense came up big when it needed to, despite committing five errors in a pressure-packed game that took its toll on both defenses.
“The bond that we have between this team is just unbelievable,” Ellazar said. “I love this team.”
The Bears broke on top when Ellazar reached on a game-opening error, Alysha Sakamura followed with a bunt single, and another error loaded the bases. Lahainaluna’s Hope Morikawa recorded a strikeout, but then walked in the first run, and Kawena Cabrera followed with a two-run single to make it 3-0.
The Bears won three of the games between the teams this season and had a 27-25 advantage in total runs.
“We have relied on our defense all year and today they were solid all day,” Baldwin coach Steve Morton said.
“That’s what I told the girls: ‘Just stay positive, make good plays, don’t try to do anything more.’ And they did a hell of a job.”
Morikawa did not allow an earned run in her six-hitter.
Lahainaluna pulled within 3-2 in the second inning when Jessica Wallace led off with a home run to dead center field, Kaua Arcangel doubled one out later and scored on an error.
After Nakoa reached on an error and was sacrificed to second base in the fourth, Ellazar socked her second double and rounded the bases when it was misplayed in the outfield to make it 5-2 Baldwin.
Three more errors led to the Bears’ final run in the fifth, which scored on pinch-hitter Sariah Edlao-Kuailani’s ground out.
Lahainaluna got back within three on Haley Nakamura’s RBI triple in the seventh, but two warning-track fly balls were caught to end the game.
In the end, the Lunas’ five hits weren’t enough to overcome the miscues.
“These games will make us ready for state, it was a good game all the way around,” Lunas coach Lei Nakamura said. “We committed our errors, of course, everybody saw that. Both sides committed errors that added up to that score up there, but it’s just too bad we made ours in the first inning.
“When any team scores first, the ball is on their side of the field.”
Lahainaluna will take seven seniors to the state tournament, including standouts Morikawa and shortstop Haley Nakamura. Morikawa is deciding between Grand Canyon and Hartnell for college, while Nakamura has signed to play at New Mexico State.
“Those are my only two four-year varsity players and they definitely have left their mark here,” Lei Nakamura said.
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com
Sanae Nakoa and Sarah Abe; Hope Morikawa and Jessica Wallace. W-Nakoa. L-Morikawa. 2B-Baldwin, Skylynne Ellazar 2; Lahainaluna: Kaua Arcangel 2; 3B-Lahainaluna: Haley Nakamura. HR-Lahainaluna: Wallace.
Leading hitters-Baldwin: Ellazar 2-4, 2 runs, RBI. Lahainaluna: Arcangel 2-4, run.