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Prep Football Preview Special
Prep Football Preview
Game of the Week
Kalani Takase | ScoringLiveApril 17, 2021, 5:25pm
Sat, Apr 17, 2021 @ [ 10:00 am ]
W: Sherreigh Nakoa-Chung L: Madison Rabe
MS: Liliana Thomas 1-3 2 runs 2 rbi HR; Sherreigh Nakoa-Chung 6.0 IP 1 ER 6 KKSK: Haley Agena 1-1 run; Madison Rabe 4.3 IP 7 ER
SAND ISLAND — Liliana Thomas belted one of Maryknoll's three home runs and 12 total hits to back Sherreigh Nakoa-Chung's four-hitter in an 11-1 win over Kamehameha in Interscholastic League of Honolulu softball Saturday morning.
The game ended with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning after Nakoa-Chung's single to center scored Thomas from third.
The win put the Spartans (5-0) in first place in the ILH Division I standings, while it was the first loss for the Warriors (5-1).
"I think we all knew we had this game in the bag," said Thomas, a senior catcher and clean-up hitter. "We go out there with a lot of confidence and swag, so when we all play together as a team we do really well, so it's really great."
Kamehameha took an early lead with a first-inning run as a result of Nicole Donahue's two-out RBI single up in the middle to score Haley Agena, who led off the game by working a 10-pitch walk off of Nakoa-Chung.
But it did little to rattle the junior pitcher, who goes by Ua, or her batterymate, Thomas.
"I just thought to myself that every walk is a run and if I lessen my walks then we should be fine and I just got comfortable and confident and that's exactly what happened," said Nakoa-Chung, who struck out six and walked three to improve to 3-0 on the season with a 2.38 earned run average.
Nakoa-Chung allowed just six Kamehameha batters to reach base after the first inning. Outside of her six strikeouts, Nakoa-Chung got six ground-ball outs, five fly-outs and one lineout — along with an error-free effort from her defense.
"It was a complete game, that's how we felt about it," Maryknoll coach John Uekawa said. "Some games you're going to make mistakes, but when we make mistakes it's at the right time — how strange is that, right? When it comes down to ‘gotta do it,' you see our defense, they're pretty damn decent."
Nakoa-Chung set the Warriors down in order in the top of the second and stranded a baserunner at third base in the third inning when she got Donahue to pop-up to third baseman Jennalyn Sniffen in foul territory for the third out. She recorded a pair of strikeouts in the fourth, but ran into some trouble in the fifth.
Agena drew a one-out walk and Navaeh Telles followed with a single through the left side of the Spartans' infield to put two runners aboard for Kamehameha. A wild pitch by Nakoa-Chung put both runners in scoring position, but she got out of the jam unscathed by setting down the Warriors' third and fourth batters, Kenna Higa and Donahue, respectively.
"The thing about Ua is that she can block everything out and look at just what's in front of her," Uekawa said. "Sometimes she just gotta be reminded to just slow down, but she regroups and it's like a war and she just battles, that's how I look at it."
Nakoa-Chung fell behind to Higa 3-1, but found the strike zone with her next two offerings, including a rise-ball that Higa took for strike three.
"I mean, that was big to get one of their best hitters on their team," said Thomas, who calls all of the pitches. "That just shows how good of a pitcher Ua is and I was really proud of her, she hit her spots really well and our D backed her up."
Although first base was open, Nakoa-Chung said she didn't want to face Donahue with the bases loaded and one out.
"I think we had a big batter next, so I was thinking that as long as we get (Higa), we're fine," said Nakoa-Chung, who relied on her riser to limit the Warriors to four singles. "That was my best pitch today and that was the one that I felt confident in."
Nakoa-Chung got ahead of Donahue 0-2 and eventually got her to pop-up to shortstop Nellian McEnroe-Marinas for the third out to strand both baserunners.
Uekawa said Thomas deserves a lot of credit for Nakoa-Chung's success in the pitching circle.
"She would have been a four-year starter, but she's a three-year starter for us. She started at first base, she made her sacrifices and then from that point on she got better and better and now she calls every single pitch, because I have confidence in her that she knows the weaknesses of the batters," Uekawa explained, "and that's why not too many runs have been scored against us. It's a combination: it's not only the pitcher, it's where she pitches the ball."
Thomas, who is signed to play for Arizona State next season and last season was selected as Gatorade state Player of the Year, noted that Nakoa-Chung has worked diligently in the offseason to improve her game in all facets, but especially pitching.
"I think she did a lot since last year. She switched her whole stance and she's just grown so much from last year and I think we just kind of have a dynamic when we're together," Thomas said. "I know when she's on, she knows when I'm on and we just work really well together."
Nakoa-Chung tried her best to flush the bad memory of her last outing against Kamehameha — when she allowed five earned runs in four innings and took the loss in a 10-3 defeat on March 7, 2020 — but Saturday's win provided a bit of redemption, for sure.
"It honestly felt great. We just came here to do business and that's exactly what we did. Last season we definitely got beat big and honestly, I just kind of forgot about it and knew that I could get the job done and that's all I did," said Nakoa-Chung.
Maryknoll's hitters gave Nakoa-Chung lots of run support in the process. Nine different Spartans recorded a hit, including multi-hit games by Sniffen (3 for 3), and Day-lee Williams (2 for 3). They also drew six walks off of Kamehameha's pitchers against just two strikeouts.
"Honestly, I just — not depend on my offense — but if I struggle on defense (pitching) then I know that my offense is there to pick me up," Nakoa-Chung said.
To her point, all nine starters in the batting order recorded at least one hit. Maryknoll had five extra-base hits, including three home runs, as well as Logan-Ray Gaspar's two-run triple in the bottom of the second that scored the tying and go-ahead runs in Sniffen and Williams to put her team ahead for good.
The very next batter after Gaspar, Aloha Akaka — the Spartans' ninth hitter — doubled her team's run total with one swing when she cranked a 1-1 pitch from Warriors' starting pitcher Madison Rabe well over the outfield fence in straightaway center.
It was Akaka's second homer in four days; She batted 2 for 3 with a home run, triple and drove in four runs in Maryknoll's 12-0 win over Iolani Wednesday.
"You're not going to see too many ninth batters (who) last game hit a home run and this game hit a home run like Aloha Akaka," Uekawa said.
The Spartans' bottom of the order of Williams, Gaspar and Aloha Akaka combined to go 4 for 8 with one walk, five RBI and three runs scored Saturday.
"It's great. I mean, I think our 7-8-9 hitters could be our 1-2-3 on any other team. They do their job and they do it well," Thomas said.
Maryknoll's 4-1 lead held until Carys Murakami's solo homer to left center led off the bottom of the fifth. Three batters later, Thomas padded the lead with her two-run homer that got out before she got halfway down the first-base line.
It was her fourth straight game with a home run and her sixth extra-base hit of the year — and came just two pitches after a hefty swing-and-miss on a 1-0 pitch from Rabe.
"Initially I was thinking ‘hit it over the fence,' but once I took that big hack I knew I had to calm myself down and just go for a line drive because when you think line drive the ball goes out far, which is pretty much what I did," Thomas said. "I saw my pitch and I just took it."
Williams drove in Sniffen with a ground ball-single up the middle for the fourth run of the inning.
The Spartans added a pair of insurance runs in the sixth on Sniffen's two-run single down the third-base line to plate Mahalo Akaka and McEnroe-Marinas to stretch it to a 10-1 lead before Nakoa-Chung's stroked her RBI-single on the very next pitch to induce the mercy rule.
"You're visually seeing probably the best team I've ever had — defensively, hitting, timely hitting, pitching," Uekawa said. "But we haven't peaked yet and that's what I just told the girls. We are progressing, we're bunching hits and that's all we talk about all the time. It's not about hitting home runs, it's about the more hit we get, the more runs we can score and anything to get on base."
Rabe was charged with the loss for the Warriors after she allowed seven earned runs on seven hits with three walks and one strikeout in 4 1/3 innings pitched. Haley Lyman worked one-plus inning in relief of Rabe and surrendered four earned runs on five hits with three walks and a strikeout.
"It was a tough loss for us," Kamehameha coach Leo Sing Chow said. "We definitely have some things to work on. It helped us show somethings that we really need to focus on to come back from this. I have confidence that they can, it's just going to take some time to put in some work right now."
The Warriors will look to rebound Wednesday, when they plays Sacred Hearts (0-6) at 4 p.m. at Ala Wai Community Park.
At the same time, the Spartans will host Punahou (2-4) at Sand Island State Recreational Park.
Kamehameha will get a chance to avenge Saturday's loss when it hosts Maryknoll on May 1.
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