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Prep Football Preview Special
Brandon Ching | ScoringLiveMay 6, 2023, 12:19am
Fri, May 5, 2023 @ [ 4:30 pm ]
W: Elyse Yoshioka L: Taelor Camelo
WAIM: Leici-Mae Camara 2-2 2 runs 3 rbi 2 HR; Taelor Camelo 7.0 IP 9 ER 6 KP5: Milan Ah Yat 3-4 4 runs 7 rbi 2 HR; Elyse Yoshioka 7.0 IP 10 ER 10 K
MANOA—The cardiac kids did it again.
PAC-5 pulled off another miraculous comeback and Milan Ah Yat's grand slam rallied the Wolfpack past Waimea, 13-12, to claim their first DataHouse/HHSAA Division II Softball State Championship since 2016 at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.
The third seeded ILH champions won all three of their state tournament games by one run to claim their sixth overall koa trophy. PAC-5 (14-3 overall) knocked out defending state champion Kapaa, 10-9 in the quarterfinals, walked it off with three runs to beat OIA champion and second seed Nanakuli, 12-11 in the semis, and tonight took down the tournament's top seed for all the marbles.
"We don't like those close games, we don't want those. But we pull it together as a team and everyone contributes. It's not one person, it's the whole team, pushing from the beginning and finishing at the end," said Ah Yat, who will be playing for Loyola Marymount Univeristy.
"They just stick together. They're young and inexperienced game-wise. I depend on the four seniors to help keep us going. I have two sophomores and the rest are ninth graders. We try to keep them focused and keep them in the game. I don't put too much pressure on them, I want them to relax and just play," PAC-5 coach Blake Lau said.
The Wolfpack avenged a 8-7 loss to the Menehunes in last year's semifinals.
"I'm so happy for this team. Last year we lost to Waimea in the semifinals and it was very heartbreaking. We told ourselves this is a comeback game and winning it, I'm proud of this team," pitcher Elyse Yoshioka said.
Yoshioka (13-2) struck out 10 and walked nine and allowed nine hits to get the win.
As the third hitter in the lineup, Ah Yat went 3 for 4 with two home runs, seven RBI and scored four runs. The last time she drove in seven runs was against Damien on Apr. 17. She capped her senior year with 34 hits, 40 runs, 44 RBI, and 12 home runs.
"That is probably going to be the biggest hit in my high school career. It's done, I'm a senior, it's over and I'm going off with a bang like that and I'm happy how we did," Ah Yat said.
"Every time. She's one of the players it's once in a lifetime you're going to get a player like that. She puts the ball in play. It was the first strike out tonight she had the whole season. She hits two to three home runs for us, she hits shots out there," Lau said of Ah Yat.
Chloe Horikawa (fourth hitter) plated a pair of runs. Freshman Mana Siu, the sixth hitter, went 3 for 4 and drove in four runs and Yoshioka went 4 for 5 from the plate and scored two runs as the Wolfpack cranked out 15 hits for the game.
"I wanted to leave it in their hands. The three, four, and five batters are my best batters I got. I didn't want to waste or take any gambles and believe in the bats. They come through and got the job done," Lau.
In the top seventh down 12-9, Camelo fanned Emily Aikau for the first out, but consecutively walked Rylee Abeshima and Kaiya Tom. Yoshioka worked a full count and sent a single deep to centerfield to load the bases to set up Ah Yat.
"I wasn't sure what happened or see where the ball went. I told myself, ‘Anything close, swing, give it all that I got," Yoshioka said.
"I told them to relax, go out there and take one pitch at a time. We will work one base at a time and get on base and work from there. They started to believe in that. Once we get girls on base, we can get to the top of the lineup and score from there. We try to move up runs and get runners up there and score as much as we can," Lau said.
Ah Yat took a strike then launched her grand slam into the left field netting to plate all base runners. Horikawa and Kate Iida grounded and popped out respectively to second to end the inning.
"She hits so many grand slams for us, it's just another day in the park. I was trying to bring the bottom of the lineup to bring the top up to put them base and leave it in their hands. I was taking pitches and just waiting on it and waiting for the moment," Lau said.
"When I was in the box, I was thinking breathe and mellow down. It was so loud I couldn't hear myself think. All I wanted to was square up the ball and help my team win. Even after, it was straight to defense and straight to cheering on my team so we can all do it and win," Ah Yat said.
Yoshioka fanned Kaelyn Banquel on a full count, Kayla Prigge flew out to left, and she struck out Nia Pablo for PAC-5's first 1-2-3 inning of the game to shut the door on Waimea.
"I was very nervous but it was the last inning and my teammates were supporting me. I told myself to give it all that I got. Every time, before every pitch, I tell myself it's me and my catcher and just pitch to the glove. I have my defense back me up since they got my back," Yoshioka said.
"We always said, ‘One at a time, one at time'. Whether it's hits, runs, plays, anything. We wanted to take it slow and one at a time," Ah Yat said.
Taelor Camelo (13-1) struck out six and walked five as she took her first loss of the season.
Aside from a lone loss to Kapaa on Apr. 12, Waimea (13-2 overall) dominated the KIF competition and continued its run with a 15-4 win over Radford in the quarterfinals and a 12-5 win over Kamehameha-Hawaii in the semifinals.
Tom led off with a single to center and moved to third on Yoshioka's double and scored off of Horikawa's ground out.
Waimea answered with a pair of runs after Sianni Sakai tripled and Nakeisha Olivas doubled. Olivas scored off a throwing error for a 2-1 lead.
Leici-Mae Camara hit one of her two in-the-park home runs and Sakai cranked a double and plated the second run of the frame Ryleah Torres ground out RBI to extend it to, 4-1.
PAC-5 answered with four runs to retake the lead. After the first out, Tom reached on an error moved to second on Yoshioka's single and scored off Ah Yat's base hit to center. Horikawa walked to load the bases, before Iida struck out swinging for the second out. Siu doubled left field to score all runners.
Waimea tied up the game at 5 on two PAC-5 fielding errors in the third. The Wolfpack overcame total seven fielding errors, Yoshioka committed three and Tom had two.
"Errors happen. We adjust and bounced back. We pulled through to make the outs," Yoshioka said.
"I have a very young team and our defense was the weakest spot of the game. We have a sophomore, we're working with her. She keeps us in the game. Our philosophy is let's keep us in the game on pitching and we're going to hit the ball to win the game. On defense, we're going to take one pitch at a time, one out at a time and try to eliminate errors. In this game, they were all excited. Last year we had a bad state tournament and loss to Waimea. I told them to relax and get one out at a time," Lau said.
The Wolfpack answered with three runs in the fourth. Tom walked and Abeshima and Yoshioka singled to load the bases. Ah Yat drew an RBI walk and Horikawa hit a hard grounder to Camelo and Siu plated the third run of the inning to make it, 8-5.
"Our players are very clutch and these past three games, we made comebacks and we can count on anyone to make a comeback," Yoshioka said.
Camara's in-the-park home run to left field took an awkward hop to lead off the fifth inning. Sakai walked and Olivas reached on and both scored off consecutive errors from Yoshioka and a throwing error on Tom. Kayla Prigge homered deep to center to rally the Menehunes with five runs.
Ah Yat chipped away at the lead by belting a solo home run to right center to trail, 12-9 in the sixth.
"I knew she could do it. I was so happy for her and I'm proud of her," Yoshioka said of Ah Yat.
Valente struck out looking, but Camara walked. Sakai struck out swinging and Olivas singled. Torres popped out to Ah Yat as the Menehunes stranded two runners as Waimea came away empty-handed.
PAC-5 won three titles under the late Cecil Hasegawa in 2010, 2011 and 2016 and won titles in 2006 and 2008.
Waimea was seeking its first title since 2012 and third overall.
DataHouse/HHSAA Division II Softball All-Tournament Team
InfieldKaiya Tom, PAC-5Ryleah Torres, WaimeaJenna Ku, NanakuliKahiwaleinaniokealoha Ili, KS-HawaiiSianni Sakai, Waimea
OutfieldLeici-Mae Camara, WaimeaMana Siu, Pac-FiveDaniellea Samson-Wright, Nanakuli
UtilityChloe Horikawa, PAC-5
PitcherElyse Yoshioka, PAC-5
CatcherKayla Prigge, Waimea
Most Outstanding Player: Milan Ah Yat, PAC-5
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