HILO – In youth leagues, Shaela Jardine’s drive to center field and ensuing romp around the bases for Honokaa would have been scored definitively as a home run.
In the big leagues, the play likely goes into the books as a four-base error.
In BIIF softball, the play in question is even more of a judgment call, and on a sun-drenched Saturday morning at Carvalho Park most every verdict came down in favor of the Dragons, who defeated error-prone Hilo 18-0 in a tidy four-inning TKO.
“I just ran because the contact of the bat felt so good,” said Jardine, who didn’t look up after her well-struck ball glanced off of a running outfielder’s glove and rolled toward the fence, allowing her to circle the bases for a two-run home run. “My teammates were cheering me on telling me to go all the way.”
Aulii Meyer and Destynee Carvalho also sped around the bases and touched them all during a seven-run third, but in their cases a single was played into a “home run” thanks to three-base errors by the Vikings in the outfield.
The Dragons (7-4) needed the laughs, coach Virgil Agustin said.
Last Monday against Konawaena there was a scary scene in Honokaa when pitcher Tehani Epenesa was drilled in the head by comebacker, suffering a wound that required 11 stitches.
“Like somebody pulled a trigger,” Agustin said, indicating there were two cracks. “Bat, head.”
The game was tied when Epenesa left the contest and the Dragons went on to lose 10-8, but “I was more worried about how Tehani was doing,” catcher Natasha Molina said.
Epenesa will be considered “day to day” next week, Agustin said, but in her absence Alexis Ramirez and Carvalho held down the fort in the circle again – Honokaa swept Pahoa in a doubleheader Wednesday – a each firing two shutout innings with two strikeouts and two hits allowed.
“The physical part we should be able to handle,” said Agustin, referring to Epenesa’s injury, “it’s the emotional part of coming together as a team and today was the first day we could actually see that.”
The Dragons sprayed 14 hits to all fields, including three by Molina.
Starting pitcher Chalisse Kela struck out three and took the loss for Hilo (3-7), working two innings.
Hilo’s problems were exemplified by the top of the second inning, when Honokaa loaded the bases on two walks and an error, then two runs came in on passed balls before Molina’s single made it 5-0.
Fueled by Ceelyn Gali-Lucero’s double, Honokaa batted around in the third and the first six batters – Meyer, Martinez, Jardine, Waiehu Kauahi-Raquel, Molina and Carvalho – reached in the fourth as the Dragons tacked on five runs.
“Our team played well together and communicated a lot,” Molina said. “When we get frustrated we really don’t talk to each other.”
Due to a scheduling quirk, Honokaa played seven-time defending D-II champion Kamehameha consecutively during a four-day span right out of the gates, losing 14-2 and 17-1.
“We had no chance to adjust, but at a certain point you have to can’t use that as an excuse,” Agustin.
He took the job three years ago in part because of a core group five players that are now seniors: Meyer, Martinez, Carvalho, Jardine and Molina – all had multihit games Saturday.
“We all have our own talents in different areas,” Molina said, “and when we work together it’s perfect.”
The highlight of Honokaa’s season so far was a 10-8 home win against Kohala (8-2), and the teams play again Monday in Kapaau. The Dragons are in third place ahead of the Wildcats (6-6) as the team jockey for positioning in the Division II semifinals.
Asked what needs to improve for Honokaa to catch up with the teams at the top, Molina mentioned small-ball, but if Jardine has her way it will be more long ball.
Either way, she’ll put her head down said she’ll just “think about scoring.”