KAILUA-KONA — Kamehameha-Hawaii could be given a pass for its lack of celebration after claiming another BIIF Division II softball title.
It wasn’t from apathy, but more of an “act like you’ve been here” mantra.
After Brooke Baptiste forced a grounder to first to end the best-of-3 series in straight games, the Warriors barely did more than smile at each other after claiming an eighth consecutive league crown.
After battling to an extra inning victory against Kohala in the first game series at Kealakehe High School on Friday, the Warriors’ bats couldn’t miss the ball on Saturday in Game 2, a 16-1, 5-inning TKO victory.
“I think the girls came out more relaxed today,” said Kamehameha head coach Akea Kiyuna. “I don’t really know what caused it but when they are relaxed they play their best game.”
The Warriors did their damage early and often, but it was an explosive eight-run fifth inning put the game away.
“The medal is a perk but to see the players make adjustments and improve, that is what it is really all about,” Kiyuna said. “When it comes to a title, if it comes, it comes, but you can’t make that your end goal.”
The Warriors also completed a perfect BIIF season with an 18-0 record, which could lead to a possible No. 1 or No. 2 seed for the upcoming HHSAA state tournament.
“We had to work for the record but I am very proud of the girls,” Kiyuna said. “It was a team accomplishment.”
Kawehi Ili led the Kamehameha offense with a 4 for 4 performance. Batting second in the order, she did her job, moving the leadoff batter over and scoring three times.
“I knew I needed to make contact and get hits. I went up to the plate to execute the plays that the coach gave me,” Ili said. “I did it for the team.”
Three other players had multiple hits for the Warriors. Leiloa Bustamante continued her hot streak, picking up two hits, two RBIs and a run, while leadoff batter Kaula Martin reached base three times, which including a pair of hits and two runs.
In the back of the order, Kawai Kauahi-Raquel cleared off the base running stragglers with a pair of doubles. She had two RBIs and scored once.
“I didn’t think I was going to hit this game because I didn’t hit last game, but I just focused on tying to make contact,” Kauahi-Raquel said. “It is all about the contact.”
The highlight of the offensive onslaught came in the top of the fifth inning when Kamehameha pushed eight runs across the plate off seven hits, including five doubles.
The inning started out innocently enough with Jolie Kim beating out a slow roller for an infield single. Kauahi-Raquel followed with the first double of the inning. Both runners scored off a Martin double into the left-center gap.
Ili singled up the middle and Dioni Lincoln doubled down the left field line, plating Martin. Kuuili Ili reached on an error and Bustamante hit a hard grounder down the third base line for a double and an RBI.
Batting around, Kim was hit by a pitch with two outs and Kauahi-Raquel picked up her second double of the inning, just missing a home run by inches as the ball hit the top of the center field fence. Kuuili Ili and Bustamante scored on the play.
“I was telling Kawai to relax and not put too much pressure on herself before the game,” Kiyuna said. “She had fun today.”
After Kim scored on a error, the inning mercifully came to an end but the damage had been done with Kamehameha firm in control of a 15-run advantage.
Brooke Baptiste made the final half inning interesting, walking the bases loaded before forcing a ground out to first to end the game.
Baptiste struggled with her control through five innings of work, but was aided by her defense. She allowed only one hit, while striking out four and walking five.
“Playing back-to-back days against a tough team, I knew she was going to be tired,” Kiyuna said. “But she trusted her defense and they backed her up.”
For Baptiste, who threw all eight innings of Friday’s game, not breaking the winning streak was all that mattered in the end.
“It feels good to claim another BIIF title but I am just glad I didn’t break the streak,” Baptiste said. “We have to keep working and we haven’t reached our full potential yet. States would be the perfect time to reach it.”
The game did not start well for the Cowgirls.
A couple costly miscues in left field forced a position change by Kohala head coach Terrance Alcoran, but not before the Warriors scored three runs.
The Cowgirls’ lone run came in the bottom of the first inning when Ayezha Isabel tripled to right field and scored when Mikayla Kekoa hit a bullet that went in and out of the glove of the Kamehameha right fielder for an error.
The play summed up the game for Kohala. Girls up and down the lineup made solid contact but the ball was usually hit right at a defender.
“Kohala had some great hits but our defense just knocked it down,” Kiyuna said. “They were making solid contact today.”
For the second straight day, Kekoa started in the circle for the Cowgirls. She threw all five innings, allowing seven earned runs, while striking out two and walking two.
Kohala was making its first appearance in the D-II championship series since 2016. The schools last BIIF softball title came in 2008.