OIA Softball
Cordeiro-Felise powers Kapolei to season-opening win over Nanakuli


Wed, Feb 28, 2024 @ [ 3:00 pm ]

F/5TH 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Nanakuli 0 0001XX135
Kapolei 1 3 134XX12131

W: Kandi Malama-Ahlo    L: Malia Felisi-Enriquez

KAP: Kendalyn Cordeiro-Felise 3-4 3 runs 5 rbi HR; Kandi Malama-Ahlo 5.0 IP 1 ER 6 K
NANA: Malia Felisi-Enriquez 1-2 rbi / 4.0 IP 7 ER 4 K

KAPOLEI — Kendalyn Cordeiro-Felise's Kapolei debut was a smashing success by all accounts. 

Cordeiro-Felise, a junior catcher and transfer from Waipahu, batted 3 for 4 and drove in five runs from the leadoff spot to power host Kapolei to a 12-1 win over Nanakuli in the regular-season opener for both teams Wednesday afternoon. 

The game was called in the bottom of the fifth inning after Cordeiro-Felise belted a three-run home run over the fence in left field to induce the 10-run differential mercy rule. 

"I was really excited," Cordeiro-Felise said. "Changing from (Division II) to D1 it's a big difference, different style of play. It was super exciting though to be on this level."

The Hurricanes (1-0) rapped out 13 hits and took advantage of five errors by the Golden Hawks (0-1). They plated at least one run in every inning. 

Aside from Cordeiro-Felise, Hayden Imai, Dezeyer Faagai, Jahsiah Hernando and Harley Seminavage each paired hits. Faagai had an RBI-double that was part of a three-run second inning. Hernando also doubled in the second frame. Both Faagai and Hernando scored on a two-run single off the bat of Cordeiro-Felise, who took the first pitch she saw in the at-bat to the opposite (right) field. 

"I just saw it going out and I knew I had runners on in scoring position and I knew I had to go opposite field, so I took it that way," Cordeiro-Felise said. 

In the top half of the frame, Cordeiro-Felise caught a Nanakuli base runner too far off first base and threw behind her to initiate a 2-3-4-3 putout. The base runner got on with a one-out bloop single to short centerfield. 

Cordeiro-Felise's battery mate, junior pitcher Kandi Malama-Ahlo, was grateful for the heads-up play by her catcher behind the plate. 

"It helps a lot. I feel more confident when I know my defense got me, my catcher got me, everybody on the field got my back if I was to miss something or if the ball gets hit (into play)," Malama-Ahlo said. 

Malama-Ahlo faced just one more batter than the minimum through four innings of work, but struggled with her control in the top of the fifth. She hit two batters with pitches and allowed an RBI-single by Malia Felisi-Enriquez, but recorded a pair of strikeouts before she stranded two runners on base after she got leadoff batter Maria Felisi-Enriquez to line out to Hernando in left field for the final out. 

"Kandi is super strong, she can gut through anything and I'm actually really proud of her because she had that one tough inning, but she just got through it. I think just with the defense behind her, she can get through anything," said Cordeiro-Felise. 

Malama-Ahlo credited her catcher for getting her back into the right frame of mind during a brief meeting in the pitching circle between batters. 

"I just tried to slow down myself. I'm happy that my catcher took the time to talk to me, just to calm me down, see if I was okay and then we just worked through it and we got out of the inning," said Malama-Ahlo, who scattered three hits in five innings of work. She struck out six batters and walked one. 

Malama-Ahlo helped her own cause with a two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth that stretched her team's lead to 8-0. 

"Right down the middle — beautiful pitch — and then I just swung. I didn't think it was going to go over," Malama-Ahlo said. 

After the Golden Hawks pushed their lone run of the game across in the top of the fifth, the Hurricanes answered in a resounding way in the bottom half of the frame. 

Faagai led off the inning with a double and Hernando followed with a single. An error in left field allowed Faagai to score on the play, while Hernando advanced an extra 60 feet to second base. Seminavage reached base with a single to move Hernando to third, then stole second base to put both runners in scoring position for Cordeiro-Felise — not that it mattered much. With one swing of the bat, Cordeiro-Felise called game after she turned on an inside offering from Malia Felisi-Enriquez and sent it over the left field fence. 

"Inside is probably my strongest pitch I can hit and I think majority of the time I can go out of the field and I knew from off the bat it was good hit," Cordeiro-Felise said. 

Kapolei coach Enson Queypo called Cordeiro-Felise, who goes by the nickname Oli, the team's Swiss Army knife. 

"Wherever I need to put her out on the field she does an excellent job," he said. 

Cordeiro-Felise was penciled in as the team's shortstop early in the preseason, but has seemed to find a home behind the plate ever since she convinced Queypo to let her catch during the Glenn Ah Sam Trojan Softball Classic a few weeks ago. 

"I moved during the Mililani tournament — it was super last minute," she said. "I just asked him if I could just catch one game and he let me and after that he said that I'm the starting catcher from now on."

Queypo said it was a matter of need. 

"We just felt like we needed to control the catching game a little bit better and I just feel like she controls the game a little bit better as far as Kandi's control, so I made the change and it seems to be better for the team as far as our chemistry goes, so for now I think we're going to keep her behind the plate," Queypo said. 

The Hurricanes struggled by their own standards at the Ah Sam Trojan Softball Classic, but turned things around not long after. They recently returned from Kauai, where they went undefeated at the Waimea Invitational Tournament. 

"I kind of feel like the Mililani tournament we didn't really play up to our potential and they needed to have a little wake-up call and we had a couple good days of practice and the girls turned it up a notch in practice and we turned it up on Kauai to play more toward our potential and I hope that we keep it going going forward," said Queypo, whose team went 8-10 overall and 6-8 in league play a year ago. 

Kapolei finished fifth (out of six teams) in the rigorous Oahu Interscholastic Association Division I West, but still managed to reach the state tournament. 

Nanakuli, meanwhile, went 16-1 in 2023, including a 14-0 mark in league play en route to an OIA D2 title — their fifth in program history. The Golden Hawks, who finished third in the D2 state tournament a year ago, are back in Division I for the first time since 2017. 

"I don't see much difference between the D2 and the D1 competition, it's just that the girls — we gotta show up and play. I don't think we showed up and played our game today and that's the biggest difference. When we come out and we show up and play, then we should be alright in D1," Nanakuli first-year coach Kenny Naehu said. 

Naehu tipped his cap to the Hurricanes, but expressed confidence in his own squad moving forward.

"We'll be back," he said. "Today was the first D1 game. Maybe the stage was too big for us today, but we'll be back. We'll bounce back from this."

Malia Felisi-Enriquez struck out four batters and walked two in four-plus innings pitched. She allowed 13 hits, but five of the 12 runs she was charged with were unearned. 

The Golden Hawks will have five days off before returning to action against Waianae (0-1) on Tuesday. 

Kapolei will try to remain on the winning track when it hosts defending OIA and state champion Campbell (0-0) Saturday at 10 a.m.

Reach Kalani Takase at [email protected].

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