MANOA — No. 3 Campbell rode the broad shoulders of senior pitcher Danielle Cervantes to beat No. 1 and top-seeded Mililani, 2-0, Saturday night for the Sabers' record-tying third consecutive DataHouse Division I state softball title.
An overflow, standing-room only crowd at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium (capacity 1,200) saw the Sabers (16-4) win their 12th consecutive state tournament game, breaking the 11 in a row set on two occasions by Kailua. It also was Campbell's fourth overall title, the first coming in 2010.
Unlike Campbell's previous two title teams, which featured mostly experienced players at nearly all positions, this one had five first-year starters, including the infield. The inexperience was sometimes reflected by the offensive output. All of Campbell's four losses were by one run, two being shutouts (one a no-hitter by Pearl City's Tyanna Kaaialii).
"We were young and stuff and people doubted us, but at Campbell, we work," said senior catcher and bases-on-balls specialist Jocelyn Alo, who has signed with Oklahoma. "(The players) worked hard everyday, came to practice with a purpose. It paid off, obviously, so kudos to the infield. I'm going to miss them next year."
Cervantes (13-4), the reigning All-Hawaii Player of the Year, fired a one-hitter and struck out 11. Appropriately, the last out of the game was Tracie Okumura getting called out on strikes. Okumura had the Trojans' sole hit, a sharp line single to center to start the fifth.
"All I kept thinking was, 'You worked four years for this," Cervantes said. "All the hard work, all your heart, has to be there tonight and you can do it'."
Cervantes, the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, faced three batters over the minimum. She walked one (Tarah Aniya) and another (Maya Yoshiura) reached on a fielder's choice, both in the the third inning.
"She was awesome tonight," Campbell coach Shag Hermosura said. "She wouldn't be denied tonight. She wanted it so much. She brought her ‘A' game."
Like most teams — especially the contenders from the Oahu Interscholastic Association West — the Trojans walked Alo all four plate appearances giving her 46 for the season.
"A walk is a (potential) run," Alo said. "Whatver it takes to win, I'll do it and if that means walking every game, then I'll walk every game."
During her first walk, Campbell fans chanted: "Let her hit, let her hit."
While the senior battery of Cervantes and Alo kept the Trojans off the scoreboard, it was the youth that put the numbers in the Sabers' columns. It was as if it were a sign showing the returnees taking the baton from the seniors. And the first run was a blast from the past. Junior Trinity Favela hammered a 1-2 pitch over the left-field wall off Mililani starting pitcher Misha Carreira (14-3) to lead off the bottom of the first inning. If the last name sounds familiar, her older sister, Elisa, now at Bossier (La.) Parrish JC, hit two homers in the 2015 title game against Mililani.
"Oh, my god, it's amazing," the younger Favela said. "I didn't really feel it. I was just thinking, ‘relax, just keep my head in there and hit it where it's pitched'."
It was her first home run of her high school career. Favela said she'll call her sister to talk about it.
"I'm so happy," Favela said. "I'm just thankful to (Elisa) for believing in me and teaching me to hit big and just relax out there."
Added Cervantes: "(The homer and lead) gave me that boost I needed for the whole game."
(Selected by media)
Most Outstanding Player: Danielle Cervantes, Campbell
C: Jocelyn Alo, Campbell
INF: Chloe Domingo, Campbell
INF: Darian Obara, Pearl City
INF: Shannon Pascua-Stanton, Mililani
INF: Merilis Rivera, Mililani
OF: Nikki Corla, Campbell
OF: Cieana Curran, Campbell
OF: Alesia Ranches, Campbell
U: Trinity Favela, Campbell
P: Misha Carreira, Mililani
P: Tyanna Kaialii, Pearl City
The Sabers insured their lead in the bottom of the sixth on sophomore Alesia Ranches' RBI single.
The experienced Trojans (14-4), with nearly all of their returning starters, could not find their timing against Cervantes.
"What can you say?" Mililani coach Rose Antonio said. "She was great tonight."
In the Trojans' previous meeting against Cervantes, they tagged her for five runs in a 5-4 regular-season win. That game was in the afternoon at Mililani.
"Maybe the atmosphere, I don't know," Antonio said. "The velocity tonight looked quicker. In the night, it looks quicker than during the day."
Cervantes engaged in a pitchers' duel with Carreira, a senior right-hander, who was charged with two runs, four hits and nine walks with seven strikeouts. Despite allowing 13 base runners plus another from an error, she stranded 12 runners, eight in scoring position.
"Misha did a great job for us," Antonio said. "She kept us in the game."
Cervantes threw 92 pitches in seven innings to Carreira's 131 in six. Cervantes ran 3-ball counts seven times (six being full counts), but walked only one and struck out five. The other three-ball count resulted in a ground out. This against a team that entered the game with a tournament-leading .407 team batting average. The Trojans had four starters entering the game with a .500 batting average or higher, including Hawaii-signee Merilis Rivera and hot-hitting Shannon Pascua-Stanton, who was coming off a 7-RBI game against Kamehameha in Friday's semifinals. Cervantes got Rivera called out on strikes, on a foul pop to first and fly to right.
"I was a little nervous about (facing Rivera)," Cervantes said. "But I just hit my spots and the outside pitch was working really well for me. That's what I stuck with."
Pascua-Stanton also struck out, but lined out to first and right field, both times she was victim of nice defensive plays by first baseman Zoie Recolan and right fielder Nikki Corla.
"My defense has been there the whole season," Cervantes said. "I love them."
Of all the three titles, this one was the toughest for various reasons, not all of them on the field. The previous two title games ended by the mercy rule. This one was a gut-wrencher all the way.
"All the emotional stuff, all the physical stuff we went through, it's been tough on them," Hermosura said. "These girls now, this is all for them. They played through everything. They wanted it bad."
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