MANOA — Danielle Cervantes turned out her best performance of the season in the circle to help lead defending state champion Campbell to an 8-0 quarterfinal win over Kamehameha Wednesday night.
The junior right-handed pitcher recorded a season-high 17 strikeouts to help the second-ranked Sabers (16-1) advance over the Warriors in the DataHouse/Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division I Softball Baseball Championships at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.
"I just came into this game ready," said Cervantes, who had a no-hitter through five and one-third inning. "I just know there's so much to work up to from last year and everything. I just prepared myself and came out strong."
Campbell will face Mililani in the semifinals in a showdown between the previous two state champions. With Kapolei and Pearl City playing in the other semifinal, this will be the first time the final four consisted of teams from the Oahu Interscholastic Association Western Division.
Other than Kaleihoku Kaneshiro's hit in the bottom of the sixth inning, Interscholastic League of Honolulu Division I champion Kamehameha (11-3-1) could get nothing going against Cervantes and the Sabers. The Warriors were able to to get on base via Campbell mistakes and walks, but could not push any runners home.
"We just couldn't come up with enough," said Kamehameha coach James Millwood, whose team is ranked fourth in the Hawaiian Electric/ScoringLive Softball Power Rankings. "We just wanted to make contact. We weren't able to do it and I guess that's why they only have one loss."
Cervantes (9-0) was unfazed whenever runners were on and rose to the occasion, delivering six inning-ending strikeouts to help leave seven total Kamehameha runners on base for the contest.
"Dani (Cervantes) has been coming a long way the last two years," said Campbell coach Shag Hermosura. "She's been working hard at it (with) the improvements she's made in school, at practice, in the weight room and in the conditioning. She threw a helluva of a game today."
Although the Sabers left as many runners on base as the Warriors did, they benefited from four Kamehameha errors and were able to string together 11 hits. Campbell scored the game's first run on two Kamehameha errors before getting multiple runs in the third and seventh inning for the 8-0 win.
"Campbell is the state champs and they're playing like it again with the bats and the pitching that they have going for them." said Millwood.
Spearheading the Sabers' offense was Cervantes' batterymate Jocelyn Alo, who batted 3 for 4 and drove in the first run in the third and seventh innings. Alo also had a leadoff solo home run to begin the final frame to essentially put the game out of reach for Kamehameha.
"Jocelyn is amazing," said Cervantes. "Every game, everyday in practice she just helps me to push a lot harder."
Alo's first hit of the game also went off the shin of Kamehameha starter Mahina Sauer in the top of the first inning. Sauer fought through it for another inning, but eventually gave way to Luana Low with no outs in the top of the third.
Campbell first baseman Caragh Morris got on base thanks to a Kamehameha error to begin the second inning. After the next two batters were retired, Morris was able to score on a throwing error on Sauer to give the Sabers their first score of the game, 1-0.
Cydney Curran doubled into left center field to leadoff the top of the third inning for the Sabers and later came home on Alo's line drive through the middle for Campbell's next score. Designated player Elisa Favela followed this up with a single to right center which advanced Alo to third. After a pitching change, Morris' sac fly plated Alo to give Campbell a 3-0 lead.
Darien Robinson kept the offense going with an RBI double one batter later. Campbell's final run of the stanza came in on Nikki Corla's bunt single to make it 5-0 in favor of the Sabers.
Low kept Campbell down for the next three innings before falling prey to a handful of long balls by the Sabers. Alo led off the seventh inning with a homer that would have cleared 300 feet to make it a six-run game. Morris was walked two batters later to set up Robinson's two RBI home run to close out the Sabers' scoring.
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