MANOA — Putting the ball in play can lead to good things for any team that's at the plate.
Putting the ball over the outfield fence is even better.
Ninth-ranked Saint Francis smashed four total home runs in its 9-0 semifinal win over top-seeded KS-Hawaii in the DataHouse/HHSAA Division II state tournament Friday afternoon at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.
The Saints will meet third-seeded Aiea, the Oahu Interscholastic Association champ, Saturday at approximately 4:37 p.m. in their first state championship appearance since 2013.
"It feels exciting," said first baseman Skye Ah Yat. "Our girls worked hard and our coaches pushed us. It was a team effort. We play as a team, we never let each other down and all glory goes to God."
Ah Yat put the first four Saint Francis runs on the board with her one-out grand slam in the bottom of the first inning. The Saints' next two scores came on consecutive two-out solo home runs in the bottom of the third by Kaena Keliinoi and Kolbee Kealoha.
Designated player Jordyn Lono's sac fly to score leadoff hitter Hailey Matsumura gave Saint Francis a 7-0 lead in the fourth inning before Keliinoi crushed the Saints' final home run with a solo shot to left-center to leadoff the bottom of the fifth.
"Before this tournament we worked a lot on hitting, and just swinging to the ball," said Keliinoi, a 5-foot-3 sophomore.
Pinch hitter Sugar Bednar drew a bases-loaded walk to give the Saints' their final score of the game in the fifth inning.
The large lead that the Saints built through five innings also gave multiple Saint Francis reserves a chance to see the field in the final stages of the game.
"I'm (really) proud of the girls," said Saint Francis coach Randy Langsi. "They're a very unselfish team. They play for each other. They wanted the subs to go in. That's the kind of team that we have. They don't think about themselves (and) they care for each other."
Sophomore pitcher Sierrah Kupihea earned the win in the circle for Saint Francis. Kupihea fired a four-hitter with seven strikeouts and no walks in six innings of work. Tiara Guerrero pitched the final inning for the Saints.
Jessica Cameros was charged with the loss for KS-Hawaii. She gave up six hits, six runs (five earned) and one walk in three innings of work before giving way to right fielder Brooke Baptiste.
Baptiste didn't fair any better. She allowed five hits, three runs and two walks after taking over in the fourth inning.
KS-Hawaii coach Akeamakamae Kiyna had nothing but praise for the Saints.
"They're a strong team. They're really tough and they hit that ball hard. They were just on it with their hitting, and defense was solid too. They played a great game."
Cameros and Kiarra Lincoln each had a double to lead the Warriors in the loss.
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