At one point during an eight-inning, three-plus hour BIIF softball affair at Waiakea, Kealakehe coach Loni Mercado walked down the third-base line to talk to Kaylyn Villanueva and delivered the line of the long afternoon.
“Is this the funnest place on Earth or what?” Mercado said. “Disneyland isn’t this much fun.”
In an early season key Division I clash, the two-time runner-up Waveriders and three-time champion Warriors certainly offered up enough up and downs and twists and turns Monday to match any good amusement park.
Waiakea ended with the ultimate joyride, walking off with a 15-14 victory when Shaily Moses was hit on the arm with the bases loaded, just the last unconventional play in a game that was defined by such quirkiness.
“It frazzled my skin,” Moses said as she showed her minor battle scar. “I’ll take it.”
The Warriors (2-0) will take a victory anyway they can get it considering the quality of the opponent and their fielding woes. Waiakea committed seven errors in the first three innings in falling behind 10-5 and then battled back as the lead changed five times in the last three innings.
“Our offense is always going to pick us up and us backing each other helps keep the spirit up and keeps us positive,” senior Brandee Chinen said.
Hitting leadoff, Chinen has several big at-bats, finishing with three hits, including a two-run triple in the fifth as Waiakea rallied for four runs to tie the game 10-10.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth, her grounder was booted allowing two runs to score as Waiakea scored three runs, and Chinen walked to lead off the eighth and eventually scored the winning run, her fourth of the game.
“My job is to get on base, see the ball, hit the ball, and just make contact,” Chinen said. “I enjoy hitting leadoff and leading the team.”
Kelsie Imai pitched the final 3 2/3 innings in relief of Halee Sweat (seven strikeouts) to earn the win, shaking off a rocky seventh inning as the Waveriders (1-1) turned a walk, a hit by pitch, an error and Zayanna Sanchez’s hit into a four-run rally to take a 14-13 lead.
In the bottom half of the inning, Kealakehe freshman Telsea Taketa recorded the first two outs and made the pitch she needed to earn a complete game victory, but Sweat’s grounder was misplayed, and the sophomore scampered home on two throwing errors, the final one skipping out out of play and allowing Sweat to tie the game.
“We overcame a lot of adversity, but we have to minimize our errors,” Mercado said. “For these girls to push through the adversity, they battled.”
The Waveriders fielded the ball cleanly the first three innings but finished with six errors.
Facing a loaded lineup, Taketa walked five and hit a batter, striking out three.
“I anticipate Telsea handling a lot of the work load this season,” she said. “She brings a lot of freshness. We did use Kitara (Cantiberos) a lot last season, and don’t forget about her. Telsea will load the bases but get out of jams.”
Celebrating her 15th birthday, Nanea Kalaua drove in four runs, hammering a two-run triple in the second inning, and Sanchez collected three hits and scored three runs.
Waiakea made nine miscues and its pitchers issued five walks and two hit batters.
The Warriors have had precious little time to work on fielding because of the spate of wet weather in Hilo.
“We’re going to improve overall defensively as a team eventually,” Chinen said.