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Prep Football Preview Special
Kalani Takase | ScoringLiveMay 4, 2023, 11:30pm
Thu, May 4, 2023 @ [ 4:30 pm ]
W: Taryn Irimata L: Kiara Baba
CAMP: Kaiana Kong 2-3 run rbi dbl; Taryn Irimata 8.0 IP 2 ER 10 KIOL: Lexi Muramoto 1-3 run rbi HR; Kiara Baba 7.6 IP 2 ER 6 K
MANOA — Teiah Keliiholokai's RBI-sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth inning lifted top-ranked Campbell to a thrilling 3-2 win over No. 4 Iolani in the semifinals of the DataHouse/HHSAA Division I Softball State Championships Thursday night.
The Sabers (15-0) kept their perfect record intact and will move on to face No. 3 Kamehameha in Friday's title game.
Kayla Whaley led off the bottom of the eighth with a bloop single into short left field on the first pitch she saw from Iolani pitcher Kiara Baba. Whaley gave way to pinch runner Jasmine Ribac, who took second on a Baba wild pitch. Baba got Leia Durban to strike out for the first out of the frame, but an errant throw from catcher Mia Carbonell allowed Ribac to advance to third.
Keliiholokai fell behind Baba in the count quickly, 0-2, then fouled off a couple of pitches before she drove a pitch into deep centerfield that was caught by the Raiders' Milla Fukuda before Ribac tagged up from third and easily scored the game-winning run.
"I just tried to stay confident in there and look for something I could drive and even when I was down oh-and-two, I just had to battle with what they gave me," said Keliiholokai, a senior centerfielder.
The Sabers racked up 10 hits from seven different players. They saw their six-through-nine hitters combine to go 5 for 12; Whaley (2 for 4) and ninth-batter Kaiana Kong (2 for 3) each paired hits, along with clean-up batter Lorraine Alo (2 for 4.
"I have nothing but faith in this team. There's not one batter in this lineup where I'm scared that they won't pull through," Alo said.
Campbell faced a deficit just three batters into the game, when Carbonell belted a solo homer over the centerfield fence in the top of the first inning.
"We just had to pick her up," Keliiholokai said of Irimata, the Sabers' ace pitcher and a University of Nevada-signee. "On the field I told her that it's OK if she gives up a couple of hits because we got her back on defense."
Irimata retired a string of 12 of the next 15 batters after the homer to Carbonell and stranded a pair of Iolani baserunners in scoring position in the process. She got into a bit of a jam in the top of the sixth, but got Hunter Salausa-Galletes to ground into an inning-ending double play to come away unscathed.
The Sabers evened the score in the bottom of the third on a two-out RBI-single off the bat of Alo to score Kong. Alo's come-backer hit off of Baba's leg on the play.
"I was just telling myself to trust my swing and get the pitch that I wanted and that was it and I just tried to hit it as hard as I could to get her in," Alo said.
It was a bit of an eventful inning for Alo, who was tended to by athletic trainers just before the top half of the third. While warming up her infielders, Alo took a ball off of her chin after it ricocheted off of her glove.
"Cairah (Curran) threw the ball at me and it was supposed to go in the middle of my glove and then it curved out and got the end of it and it hit my chin," Alo laughed. "Yeah, she threw me a curveball."
Despite a delay of a few moments, Alo put some athletic tape over the gash and remained in the game.
"Oh, no ways. I was going to plug this out," she stated.
Campbell took its first lead in the bottom of the sixth, when Durban drew a one-out walk and eventually came around to score on a two-out double by Kong, who worked an eight-pitch at-bat.
However, the Raiders tied it in the next half-inning on a one-out solo home run by Lexi Muramoto.
"Honestly, Taryn does the best in that circle and we always tell her that we'll get her back, so if that happens we'll get her back on offense," Alo said.
Irimata's teammates did just that in the bottom of the eighth to help the Sabers win in walk-off fashion.
"It feels amazing and especially I was talking to Taryn in the dugout and I just told her, ‘We got this' and I have a lot of trust in my team and we worked so hard and it just feels amazing to clutch up for them," Keliiholokai said.
Irimata finished with 10 strikeouts to improve to 14-0 on the season. She did not issue a walk and scattered four hits over eight innings.
Baba tallied six strikeouts of her own. The senior walked one in the loss and fell to 7-4 on the year.
"She had an amazing curveball," Keliiholokai said of Baba. "I struck out actually the first time (up to bat) on it and I just had to adjust by moving up on the plate."
Iolani was its third consecutive state finals' appearance. It won in 2019 and fell short to Maryknoll in 2022; there was no state tournament in either 2020 or 2021.
Campbell avenged a loss in extra innings to the Raiders in last year's state quarterfinal round.
"It meant so much because last year we came up short and I told everyone before this game that this game is more personal than anything because we wanted this game," Alo said. "We wanted it so bad last year and this year all the seniors made sure to make it possible this year."
The Sabers will try for their first state title since 2017 and fifth overall.
The Raiders (15-6) will play No. 2 Waianae for third place, 5 p.m. Friday at McKinley.
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