Tasi Docktor (far right) and the Owls celebrate a walk-off victory over 'Iolani. Brien Ing | SL
Tasi Docktor's leadoff home run in the bottom of the eighth inning Tuesday lifted Mid-Pacific to a dramatic 1-0 victory over visiting 'Iolani and the Interscholastic League of Honolulu's first-round softball championship.
The special playoff win improved the Owls' ILH record to 8-1 and secured the first of the league's two state tournament berths.
"We finally got it done, but we gotta keep going and practicing hard," said Docktor, a junior third baseman.
MPI, 'Iolani and Punahou each finished the first round schedule with a 7-1 record, forcing a three-way playoff. The teams drew cards on Sunday and the Owls, who lost to Punahou, 4-3, on Saturday, drew a playoff bye.
'Iolani held off Punahou, 4-2, on Monday to advance to yesterday's winner-take-all game that turned into a tense pitching duel between Mid-Pacific's All-State junior, Keiki Carlos, and Raiders junior Nalani Taniguchi.
Docktor ended it abruptly with a 200-foot shot over the left-center field fence off an 0-1 pitch.
"It looked like a riser, a little outside," Docktor said. "I thought they were going to try and let me chase it a couple times, but I told myself if it looks good, I'm gonna swing. The main thing was to get on base, because I knew if I did, my teammates would bring me in."
Raiders coach Chris Shimabukuro said Taniguchi had little room for error with Docktor at the plate.
"In almost any other situation, we might have pitched around her," Shimabukuro said. "But since she was leading off, we didn't want to walk her."
Earlier in the game, it was 'Iolani that had a chance to break the scoreless tie. Kim Souza was hit to lead off the fourth inning and was circling the bases two batters later when an infield throwing error on Mari Fujimoto's grounder put the ball in short right field. But a throw home caught Souza at the plate to end the inning.
In the seventh, Alex Masaquel doubled with one out, advanced to third on Fujimoto's groundout to first and appeared ready to score on Kirstyn Namba's grounder to the right side. But second baseman Kacy Aoki scooted to the 4-3 hole to scoop up the ball and throw to first to end the threat.
Those plays supplemented another brilliant effort by Carlos, who allowed just three hits in eight innings and struck out seven with no walks.
"Keiki had her pitches working today," Shimabukuro said. "She was getting ahead in the count with the change-up and inside fastball, and their defense made a bunch of plays. We just couldn't get those runs in."
Owls coach Willie Quinn said his team faced similar problems against Taniguchi, but Docktor was able to deliver the victory with one swing.
"She's such a strong girl, all it takes is one mistake pitch," Quinn said. "It came at the right time."