Golden Hawks beat Saints for championship
KAHULUI – With runners on first and second in the bottom of the seventh inning, Nanakuli High School was one out away from its first state softball title.
“I was nervous,” said pitcher Chyanne Koko. “I started shaking.”
On a 3-2 pitch, Koko struck out St. Francis’ Kenedee Passos to finish off a 5-4 victory Friday night in the DataHouse Division II State Championship final at Patsy Mink Field.
“It feels great. This is the first time, so we’re very proud,” Koko said. “I had faith in my team, we had faith.”
The final inning began with the score tied 3-3.
The Golden Hawks’ Emma Kawaiaea and Precious Paulo-Meyers opened the top half of the seventh by reaching on errors. A sacrifice bunt advanced the runners and brought up freshman Ashley Vangieson.
“I told myself to do it, and don’t mess up,” Vangieson said with a smile. “I’m an aggressive hitter, so if the first pitch looks good I always take it.”
Vangieson did just that, and hammered a two-run double to left-center field.
In the bottom of the seventh, Ashley Kahapea-Wagner’s one-out single cut the gap to a run, but Koko got Shaye Simms on a fly ball to shortstop, and then fanned Passos.
“I was thinking about getting the first three, strike them out one, two, three, so it would be easier for my team and it would be much less pressure,” Koko said. “But it ended up being a lot of pressure.”
The Saints’ Kaitlin Santos led off the bottom of the seventh with a walk, then was retired when Rachel Carlos hit into a fielder’s choice.
Going into Friday, Carlos had been 9-for-12 in the tournament with a home run and 11 RBIs. She was 0-for-4 with a strikeout on Friday.
“We got a crafty pitcher,” said Golden Hawks coach Ricky Gusman, whose team was seeded second. “You can’t throw fastballs by them. You just have to make them feel uncomfortable.”
Kelsie Hee, who had homered in the third inning, hit a towering fly ball to shallow right center that four Nanakuli players converged on, but could not catch, prompting Gusman to call time and calm his team.
“I told the infield, ‘Listen, we can give them one run. They score a run, let’s get an out, and now we got two. If we do that we’ll put ourselves in a position to win,’ ” he said.
After Kahapea-Wagner’s hit and Simms’ popout, Passos drew three straight balls before Koko, named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, battled back.
“The girls played with heart, they gave everything we had,” said Saints coach Randy Langsi.
* Chris Sugidono is at email@example.com
Nanakuli …….. 100 ….. 110 ….. 2-5 ….. 11 ….. 5
St. Francis ….. 011 ….. 010 ….. 1-4 …… 8 ….. 2
Chyanne Koko and Precious Paulo-Meyers. Shaye Simms and Elsie Hee. W-Koko. L-Simms. HR-St. Francis: Hee. 2B-Nanakuli: Koko.