HHSAA Softball
Game of the Week Rewind - Mid-Pacific vs. Castle, May 6, 2011


 



Fri, May 6, 2011 @ [ 7:00 pm ]


F/8TH 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 R H E
Mid-Pacific 0 01100261091
Castle 0 0 000040464

W: Keiki Carlos    L: Leisha Li'ili'i

CAST: Brittany Hawn 1-4 2 rbi; Leisha Li'ili'i 7.3 IP 4 ER 5 K
MPI: Kacy Aoki 3-4 run 3 rbi; Keiki Carlos 8.0 IP 4 ER 9 K


Editor's note: With the cancelation of the spring sports season, each week we will take a look back at a game of significance from the same week of past seasons we've covered. Along with a brief summary of the game itself, we'll review the impact it had on the winning team's season and reflect upon some of the team members who played a part in it.

 

GAME RECAP

The title game of the DataHouse/HHSAA Division I State Softball Championships featured Mid-Pacific, the tournament's No. 2 overall seed and Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion, against the fourth-place team out of the Oahu Interscholastic Association, Castle.

The Owls entered the game with a 16-4 record and were coming off of mercy rule-shortened routs over third-seeded Baldwin, 13-1, in the quarterfinals, and a 12-1 blowout of Leilehua in the semis one night prior.

Meanwhile, the Knights had won three games in thrilling fashion in as many days and brought a 15-3 record into the title game. They opened with a 10-9 win over Punahou in the first round before scratching past fourth-seeded Lahainaluna by a score of 5-4 in the quarters. In the semifinal round, they rallied from a five-run deficit to topple defending champion and top-seeded Campbell, 9-7, in eight innings.

The tournament final — which took place on a rainy Friday night at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium during a week with its share of inclement weather in Manoa — was largely a pitcher's duel between Mid-Pacific's Keiki Carlos and Castle's Leisha Liilii.

The Owls, who were designated as the visitors, were able to capitalize on Castle's four errors in the game. They plated single runs in the third and fourth innings to take their first lead of the contest.

Kacy Aoki, who batted 3 for 4 with three runs driven in the win, stroked a two-run single in the top of the seventh inning to stretch the Mid-Pacific lead to 4-0 entering the final half-frame.

Carlos, then a junior, had retired a string of 10 consecutive batters going into the bottom of the seventh. However, despite being down to their final three outs, the Knights rallied with four runs to even the score and send the game into extra innings.

"We were up 4-0 going into the last inning and the next thing you know they tied the ball game up," then-MPI coach Willie Quinn recalled.

Not only did Castle tie it up in the bottom of the seventh, it had a chance to win it in walk-off fashion. But with runners on first and second with one out — and University of Hawaii-bound slugger Liilii looming in the on-deck circle — Carlos got Roblyn Silva to line into a pivotal inning-ending double play to keep Mid-Pacific's hopes alive.

"Fortunately we had Tasi (Docktor) at third base catch a line drive off the bat and we doubled off the runner at first, so we were lucky to be in it after being up 4-0 and giving up the lead," Quinn said.

It did not take the Owls long to recover.

Tasha Luis-Hirata, the No. 9 hitter in the card for MPI, started the comeback with a one-out single — her lone hit of the tournament. The Owls loaded the bases a few batters later to set-up Kaydi Kochi's looping RBI-single into short center to reclaim the lead for her team.

Despite a rain delay — the second of the game — that interrupted the Owls' hit parade in the eighth, they went on to score six runs in the frame.

Carlos went on to record two of her nine total strikeouts in the bottom of the eighth to close it out.

"We were pretty fortunate in the eighth because we scored six runs and I can't remember how everything happened, but with every run that scored I was determined to try and score more," Quinn said. "I wanted to score 10 runs because of what happened earlier, but the girls came through and Keiki shut them down in the (bottom of the) eighth inning."

 

THE IMPACT

The victory secured the first softball state championship in program history for Mid-Pacific, which finished the year with an overall record of 17-4 (14-4 ILH).

Castle, which was seeking its second state crown and first since 1977 — the very first year the state tournament was held — saw its season end with a mark of 15-4 (12-3 OIA).

For the Owls, it was the breakthrough they were longing for. They had lost in the quarterfinals of each of the past two state tournaments and went on to finish sixth and fifth, respectively.

"When we first made it (to states) Keiki Carlos was a freshman, but her freshman and sophomore years we came up short and we were determined that, ‘hey, we're gonna win it with her there,' " Quinn said. "We had two more years with her so we felt that we had a good chance still."

Carlos logged three complete games that week and was selected as the tournament's most valuable player. For the season, she posted a 17-3 record with a 1.11 ERA, 0.78 WHIP and 130 strikeouts. Carlos also registered a .365 batting average and drove in 19 runs on the year.

She was joined on the all-tournament team by first baseman Tori Hamura, second baseman Aoki, third baseman Doctor and catcher Kochi.

Kochi, Carlos and designated hitter Gabrielle Hollinger were tabbed ILH first team all-stars, while Doctor, freshman shortstop Lindsey Matoi and junior outfielder Jordon Joy were second team honorees. Quinn was recognized as ILH Coach of the Year.

"It takes a lot of girls and the chemistry of the girls is important. They did a really good job and I owe it to all the girls," Quinn said.

Carlos was selected as Gatorade State Player of the Year that season, an honor she repeated as a senior the following year, when she helped the Owls successfully defend their D1 state championship.

 

HE SAID IT

"The entire tournament was rainy and cold and we weren't even sure that we would get that championship game in that night. They skipped the pre-game introductions because they wanted to start before more rain came down. The early innings were a pitchers' duel between Keiki Carlos and Leisha Liilii. Neither team could muster much offense. We managed to scratch across a few runs and then Kacy Aoki clutched up with a two-RBI single in the top of the seventh to seemingly put the game away, but, like Castle was doing all tournament long, they rallied for four runs in the bottom of the seventh to tie it up and they had the winning run on second with one out. The place was going crazy, except in the Mid-Pacific dugout. Roblyn Silva, who preceded Leisha in the order, then hit a laser, but right at third baseman Tase Doctor. Tasi snagged it and fired to first to double off the runner. Inning over. On to extra innings. With one out, our ninth batter, Tasha Luis-Hirata, lined a single into right field and the flood gates opened. A few fielder's choices, a hit batter and an RBI-single by Kaydi Kochi, another RBI-single by Aoki and two perfect squeeze bunts punched across six runs and put the game out of reach. Keiki then did her job in the bottom of the eighth and Mid-Pacific won the school's first-ever girls Division I state championship. The entire team and school was super happy for head coach Willie Quinn, as he basically started the program and was in charge through the ‘dark days' of Mid-Pacific softball, when other schools would pad their stats against them. His hard work and undying commitment to the program came to fruition that night." -Alan Inaba, then-MPI assistant

Inaba recalled a specific practice that season that seemed to light a fire in the players.

"A special practice session that year also solidified the team. After a poor effort in the weight room the day before, the team got a long talk the next day, all while standing in a pouring rain. That stern lecture showed the girls that the coaches meant business and anything but the best effort wouldn't be good enough," Inaba said. "Needless to say, the rest of the year the girls always gave their best efforts. In a way, it also made the coaching staff more cohesive, as it showed that we will back each other up no matter up."

Another pivotal moment in MPI's run to their first state title came in a 1-0 win over Iolani.

"The one game that really made the team believe was the one-game playoff versus Iolani for the (ILH) first-round championship. Great pitching, solid defense and a clutch, walk-off homer by Tasi Docktor that got us into the state tournament," Inaba reminisced. "It showed the girls that even though things weren't going their way that game, if they stuck together and kept fighting, they could end up on top."

Inaba reflected upon some of the players on that team.

 

Kaydi Kochi: "Unquestioned team leader, solid No. 3 batter and all-state catcher. She didn't say too much, but everyone knew she meant business and no one dared question her authority. Drove in the go-ahead run versus Castle in the top of the eighth inning."

 

Tori Hamura: "The team clown. Everyone thought she was joking when she fell at practice after stepping on the rake, only to find out she was really hurt. Missed a few games, but rebounded with key RBIs in the ILH championship versus Punahou and in the state final versus Castle."

 

Lindsey Matoi: "Freshman shortstop. Arguably one of the best defensive shortstops to ever play the game."

 

Keiki Carlos: "The top pitcher in the state both her junior and senior years and she could really swing it with the best of them."

 

Tasi Docktor: "Best third baseman I have ever seen in high school. She hit for power, had above average speed, uncanny quickness and a rifle for an arm. With her and Matoi on the left side, there weren't many ground balls that got through. She was all-state as a senior in 2012."

 

Kacy Aoki: "Miss Clutch. Solid defender at second base, ultimate contact hitter who hit for average and drove in three runs in the state championship. She was also all-state as a senior in 2012."

 

Karis Kochi: "Outstanding outfielder. She didn't hit for herself in 2011, but she hit .400 her senior year and was all-state as a senior in 2012. She started out game-winning rally against Campbell the following year."

 

Gaby Hollinger: "ILH all-star as a DP. Fierce competitor in games and practices. She had a style all her own."

 

Tasha Luis-Hirata: "Underrated right fielder. She threw a runner out at home versus Iolani in that playoff game to keep the score knotted at zero-zero. She also started the game-winning rally against Castle in the top of the eighth inning."

 

Jordan Joy: "Amazing speed and quickness. She ran down everything in the outfield. She didn't play much softball before high school, but she was solid for us all year long and made all-state as a senior in 2012."

 

MOVING FORWARD

Mid-Pacific repeated as ILH champions the following season and this time earned the No. 1 seed in the state tournament. It defeated Waianae, Kapolei and finally, Campbell, on its way to a second straight state title.

Carlos once again earned MVP honors of the state tournament and was joined by Matoi, Docktor and catcher Nicole Lopez on the all-tournament team.

The Owls went 14-2 in ILH play and won their final eight games to finish 17-2 overall in 2012. Carlos was selected as ILH Player of the Year that season. Other league all-stars were Doctor, Joy and Hollinger on the first team, while Matoi garnered second team recognition.

"That will-to-win attitude carried over to the next year, where we repeated as state champions. It also set a standard for future teams to live by," said Inaba, who took over for Quinn in 2013.

Carlos and Liilii went on to become teammates at UH and Lopez eventually followed in their footsteps as a Rainbow Wahine.



Reach Kalani Takase at [email protected].




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