MANOA – No. 2 Campbell wasted little time in dispatching the No. 1 and top-seeded Hurricanes, 12-2, to repeat as DataHouse Division I state softball champions Friday at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.
It was Campbell's third overall crown; it won its first in 2010. All three of the Sabers' titles came when they were unseeded, or not the Oahu Interscholastic Association champion.
The Sabers (18-1) avenged their only loss of the season when the Hurricanes (15-4) beat them, 5-4, in the OIA semifinals on April 29. Yet the loss might have been the wakeup call that led to mercy-rule finish after six innings. Campbell beat Mililani, 16-4, in five innings to end last year's tournament.
"That loss picked everybody up," Campbell coach Shag Hermosura said. "We had to hit the mental part of the game. Come down from the clouds and realize that we gotta work hard as a program and, yeah, we pulled it out."
The Sabers basically ambushed the Hurricanes.
"I did not expect them to come out with both guns blazing, but they did," Kapolei coach Tony Saffery said. "Today, they were better than us. I mean, what can I say? Top to bottom is vicious. And when they started dropping bunts, we just couldn't defend it. They have the speed to run the bases. We just couldn't recover from that."
With four Oahu Interscholastic Association Western Division landing four teams in the semifinals, it was clear the best softball was played on the Leeward side. But the Sabers made it specific that the best softball was played at 76 South, the federal highway designation for Fort Weaver Road, which leads to the Ewa Beach school.
"It feels great, especially since I'm graduating tomorrow, it's like the best send-off ending my high school career," said Sabers' senior second baseman Cydney Curran, a fixture at her position since her freshman season.
Sabers who played since their freshmen season compiled a 62-14 record, finishing third, second and first twice in the state tournament.
Yet it was the junior class that played a vital role against the Hurricanes. Starting with starting pitcher Danielle Cervantes, who delivered a third consecutive strong outing in the tournament, allowing two runs, three hits and two walked with four strikeouts in the complete-game win.
"It's amazing," Cervantes said. "The last ride with the seniors and everything. It's overwhelming."
Catcher Jocelyn Alo delivered the first blow, a two-run home run in the top of the first inning.
Right fielder Nikki Corla making a diving catch with runners at first and second in the bottom of the first that denied the Hurricanes from answering the Sabers' three-run top of the first.
"That took the wind out of our sail," Saffery said.
It was redemption for Corla, who dropped a fly ball in the quarterfinals against Kamehameha on Wednesday, though it led to no harm.
"My coaches told me to grab any ball that comes to me and don't let it get past me," Corla said.
Center fielder Cieana Curran made a shin level catch to rob Shaycelynn Hoohuli of possible RBI single in the second inning.
"That's another one," Saffery said. "She's going to be a great collegiate athlete. Look at her size. She has good bloodline. Look at her mom (the former Chameka Costa, a four-time OIA West all-star in the 1990s)."
Alo made a sprawling diving catch of a low pop up on a bunt attempt by Raina McKean that might have prevented an even bigger inning by the Hurricanes in the fifth, when they scored their only two runs.
"It's not the first time I've seen her making a diving catch like that," Cervantes said, "but it's always great to help me out."
Corla drove home the two runs in the top of the sixth to provide the 10-run margin needed for the mercy rule.
In the OIA semifinals, Kapaku-You's sinker burned the Sabers. This time, Campbell was ready. The Sabers neutralized the sink by moving up in the batter's box, Alo said.
"We knew that she had a natural drop, so we just made our adjustments to that from the last game," Alo said.
The Sabers showed no mercy on Kapolei starting pitcher Sadie Kapaku-You. Alo's two-run home run, a line drive over the right –center field fence, ignited a three-run first. Elisa Favela continued to swing a white-hot bat by following Alo's homer with a double. An out later, Darien Robinson singled off the gloves of third baseman McKean and shortstop Sala Pedebone to score Favela to make it 3-0.
Just as the Sabers were playing well defensively, the Hurricanes did not. Two errors led to two unearned runs in the third inning.
Campbell combined small ball with long ball in a three-run fourth. Chardonnay Pantastico reached on a squib single in front of the plate and took second when Cydney Curran reached on a bunt single. Alo smoked a two-run triple to right to make it 7-0. Courtesy runner Trinity Favela then scored when sister Elisa squeezed her home while reaching on the fielder's choice.
The Sabers then made it 10-0 with another small-ball, long-ball combo. Corla squeezed home the first run and Pantastico doubled home the 10th run to put the game in mercy-rule range.
The Hurricanes, not wanting their season to end before regulation, took the aggressive approach in scoring twice in the bottom of the fifth. They stole two bases, including one that helped score their first run. Holiday Ribac led off by getting hit by a pitch. McKean tried t bunt her over, but that's when Alo made the spectacular diving catch to foil the sacrifice attempt. But Ribac stole second and reached third when Hoohuli reached on an infield single to put runners at the corners. Hoohuli stole second, but shortstop Pantastico dropped the ball after applying the late tag and Ribac scored as the ball rolled away. Ciena Kauhi then hit an RBI double to make it 10-2. Kauhi reached third on a wild pitch, but was stranded there when Kapaka-You popped out to right.
The Sabers put the game away in the bottom of the sixth with two out. Caragh Morris singled and Darien Robinson and Sierra Mariano drew walks to load the bases for Corla, who singled up the middle to drive in the two runs that put the game in mercy rule position before Cieana Curran popped out.
Cervantes retired the Hurricanes easily in the sixth when Pedebone popped out to short and when Lili Kaimi and Dallas Pollard-Brownell each struck out.
"Tonight, we just were hungry," Hermosura said.
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