Saints earn spot in championship
KAHULUI – Last season, when the St. Francis School softball team lost its opener in the DataHouse Division II State Championship, Shaye Simms was in the 8th grade.
Thanks to 132 pitches from Smith and an offense that banged out 11 hits, the Saints will play for the state title tonight after a 14-6 win over top-seeded and defending state champion Waimea on Thursday night at Patsy Mink Field.
“I’m ready,” Simms said with a smile after an eight-hitter that included five strikeouts and two walks. “Their batting was good, really strong, but our offense played hard and we wouldn’t let them go.”
St. Francis will be taking the field for its fourth game in four nights when it plays in the final against Nanakuli, last season’s state runner-up and the No. 2 seed this time.
The Saints (9-10) are unseeded because of a state rule that to gain a seed a league must have at least three three teams in the division – the Interscholastic League of Honolulu has two D-II teams.
Simms wasn’t worried about that after she won for the third time this week – she has given up 10 runs in 17 innings. The Saints’ offense has scored 33 runs in three games.
“They help me a lot,” she said. “I don’t feel pressure. I like this a lot.”
Simms pitched in an 8-0 win over Nanakuli in a preseason tournament.
“With my team behind my back, I feel confident,” she said.
After Waimea broke on top 2-0 in the bottom of the first, St. Francis scored six times in the second, on a two-run triple by Rasela Vili, a run-scoring error and a bases-loaded triple by Rachel Carlos.
The Menehunes cut the deficit to one in the third – Bailey San Agustin-Nordmeier knocked in two with a triple and Alyssa Miyamoto delivered a run-scoring single.
The Saints boosted the lead to 7-5 in the fourth on an RBI groundout by Carlos.
Waimea got back within a run in the fifth on an RBI double by Gaylan Matagiese, who is headed to Hawaii on a softball scholarship.
St. Francis pulled away with three runs in the sixth – Carlos had an RBI single, and two ground balls each plated a run. In the seventh, the Saints added four more runs, with an RBI single by Carlos, a run-scoring fielder’s choice, a sacrifice fly by Danielle Antolin and a run-scoring error.
Carlos was 3-for-5 with six RBIs and two runs. Vili was 3-for-4 with two RBIs, and also scored twice.
“It’s big for us,” St. Francis coach Randy Langsi said. “We have been working on this since last year when we lost to Kauai in the first round. Once we lost that, I told the girls, ‘This is the beginning,’ although it was the end. ‘We are working towards next year.’ They put the hard work in (in) the offseason. I think the key was trying to get these kids to bond and play together as a team.”
San Agustin-Nordmeier was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and three runs for the Menehunes, while Miyamoto was 2-for-2 with an RBI and run.
“That’s a very good team over there,” Langsi said. “We just hit the ball. They have got a lot of fight in them, we expected them to explode. They are the kind of team that can come back on you any time.”
Waimea, which committed five errors, will face Kauai for third place today in an all-Kauai Interscholastic Federation matchup.
“Real good team, real good team,” Menehunes coach Teddy Perreira said of the Saints. “We made a lot of mistakes out in the outfield, cost us. A little bit too much mistakes. It was a battle all game, you have got to cut the mistakes against a strong team.”
Perreira said playing under the lights at Patsy Mink Field was tough on his team.
“The lights need to be more bright than this,” he said. “We don’t play under the lights at home, we play mostly day games.”
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org
Shaye Simms and Kelsie Hee; Deanalynn Tafiti and Gaylan Matagiese. W-Simms. L-Tafiti. 2B-St. Francis: Kenedee Passos; Waimea: Bailey San Agustin-Nordmeier, Matagiese. 3B-St. Francis: Rachel Carlos, Rasela Vili.