In theory, Aiea pitcher Poamai Tuli did enough to get credit for the win and the save in Na Alii's 7-3 quarterfinal win over Kohala at McKinley's Tiger Softball Stadium Thursday night.
Tuli struck out 13 of the 19 batters that she faced in six innings of work to punch Aiea's ticket into the semifinal round of the DataHouse/HHSAA Division II state tournament.
Na Alii, the second-seeded team and Oahu Interscholastic Association champion, will move on to face Kauai Interscholastic Federation champ Kapaa Friday in a 12 p.m. game at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.
Tuli, the OIA D2 Player of the Year, pitched five innings of no-hit ball before shortstop Chantelle Shimabukuro moved inside the pitching circle in the top of the sixth with a 7-1 lead. The defensive change reshuffled the infield and moved Tuli to first base.
Shimabukuro and Na Alii ran into some trouble in the top of the seventh however. Kohala's Setsuko Kimura hit a leadoff home run and Mikayla Kekoa singled to left field. Things got even more worse when Kekoa stole home for the Cowgirls' third run and the next two batters reached on an error.
After Shimabukuro faced four batters, Aiea coach Alan Higuchi reinserted Tuli at pitcher with the potential tying run on deck.
Tuli's second appearance in the circle started the same way as her first. The senior left-handed pitcher fanned the next three batters in order to deny the Cowgirls a late-inning rally.
Tuli also did damage at the plate with two doubles, an RBI and a run scored.
Kohala's Jurnee Keawe was charged with the loss. She was tagged for 12 hits, seven earned runs and four walks against one strikeout in 5 1/3 innings of work. Symphony Kauanoe pitched the final two outs for the Cowgirls.
Shimabukuro started the bottom of the first with a home run to left-center for the game's first run. Tuli and three-hole hitter Mikelle Gonzales then reached on a bases on ball to put Kohala in a bind. Cleanup hitter Testimoni Tavale's RBI single and Trinit Atuatasi's sac fly scored Tuli and Gonzales respectively to give Aiea a 3-0 lead after the first inning.
For the first three innings, Tuli was unstoppable. Other than a pop out to third base, Tuli retired the entire Kohala lineup in order with eight strikeouts before losing a perfect game bid in the top of the fourth.
Kauanoe reached on a throwing error to start the fourth stanza, and would later come home on Kimura's RBI groundout for an unearned run and the Cowgirls' lone score of the game.
Aiea added four more runs in the bottom of the frame to give itself a six-run cushion heading into the fifth.
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