Lunas top Warriors, earn ninth straight state berth

Lahainaluna scores 13 runs in third for 19-4 semifinal win

Seraya Casco of Lahainaluna High School pitches in the second inning of the Lunas’ 19-4, three-inning win over Kamehameha Maui in an MIL Division I tournament semifinal Thursday night at Patsy Mink Field. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photos

KAHULUI — The Lahainaluna High School softball team has made the state tournament every season since Lei Nakamura started coaching there in 2010.

The Lunas made it 9-for-9 for their head coach Thursday night with a 19-4, three-inning win over Kamehameha Maui in a Maui Interscholastic League Division I tournament semifinal at Patsy Mink Field.

“The beginning was a little rough there,” Nakamura said after the game was tied 4-4 midway through the second inning. “Kamehameha is a great team. Everybody is a good team and get better from the beginning of the season, so you just don’t know what to expect.”

The Lunas (8-5) broke open a 6-4 game by scoring nine runs in the bottom of the third before an out was recorded. They ended the game with four more runs in the frame.

Lahainaluna advances to face Baldwin in the tournament championship tonight.

Warriors catcher Kanoe Kahahane tags out the Lunas’ Kaaina Kalanikau as she tries to score from third base on a first-inning bunt.

Kamehameha Maui’s season is over at 6-7.

“The players are committing, they are committed to the program,” Kamehameha Maui coach Mark Vaught said. “It was their doing, really their doing. The Lunas have a lot of experience, they are very smart, they are well-coached. They know exactly what they are doing out there and they took advantage tonight.”

Liliola Vehikite’s two-run single pushed the lead to 17-4, the 18th run scored on an error and Mia Gerbig drove in the game-ender with a double, one of five players to smack a two-bagger for the Lunas.

“We had to stay on focus, on track and just take care of business,” Nakamura said. “It absolutely feels good to nail down that state berth.”

Gerbig and Vehikite are the only seniors on the Lunas’ roster. They combined to knock in six runs, with Gerbig going 3-for-3.

Kamehameha Maui’s Kyana Nagasako follows through on a first-inning RBI single Thursday.

“It really does feel good,” Vehikite said. “At the beginning of the season we didn’t really know if we were going have a team. Just coming back from that is really great.”

Vehikite know it won’t get easier tonight against the unbeaten Bears.

“They’re a great team, but I feel as long as we hold it down we definitely have a chance,” Vehikite said.

Gerbig has watched this young team improve game to game.

“No matter what, I’m proud of my team,” Gerbig said. “They’ve worked hard. I’ve seen these girls my whole four years and I think we really improved this year.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.

Kamehameha Maui 220–4 5 7

Lahainaluna 42(13)–19 11 0

Jerriah Solomon, Melia Kama (3) and Kanoe Kahahane; Seraya Casco and Briann Keohuloa. W–Casco. L–Solomon. 2B–Kamehameha Maui: Kyana Nagasako, Solomon; Lahainaluna: Liliola Vehikite, Mia Gerbig, Nohili Hong, Keohuloa, Kaaina Kalanikau.

Leading hitters–Kamehameha Maui: Nagasako 2-2, 2 RBIs; Solomon 2-2, RBI. Lahainaluna: Gerbig 3-3, 4 RBIs; Hong 3-3, RBI; Keani Pagan 2-2, RBI.

Wednesday’s Late Result

MIL tournament play-in

At Patsy Mink Field

MAUI HIGH 8, KING KEKAULIKE 6

King Kekaulike 321 000 0–6 5 0

Maui High 420 002 x–8 10 0

Sadie Sakamoto and Abby Manegdeg; Siera Ohashi and Kaycee Arase. 2B–Maui High: Destiny Kama, Melia Paet.

Leading hitters–King Kekaulike: Ashley Gamble 2-4. Maui High: Erin Prieto 2-4; Arase 2-4; Paet 2-4.

MIL Softball Tournaments

At Maui High

Thursday’s Results

D-I semifinal: Baldwin 16, Maui High 6, 6 innings

D-I semifinal: Lahainaluna 19, Kamehameha Maui 4, 3 innings

Today’s Games

D-II semifinal: Lanai vs. Hana, 4 p.m.

D-I final: Baldwin vs. Lahainaluna, 7 p.m.

Saturday’s Games

D-II final: Molokai vs. Lanai-Hana winner, 10 a.m.

D-II overall championship, if necessary: Molokai vs. Lanai-Hana winner, noon

Tuesday’s Game

D-I overall championship, if necessary: Baldwin vs. Lahainaluna, 5 p.m.

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