KAHULUI - Even if most others didn't expect Maui High School to pull off the Maui Interscholastic League's biggest softball upset of the season, the Sabers themselves had confidence.
They showed the ability to back up that optimism on Thursday, beating previously perfect Lahainaluna 1-0 in a Division I league tournament semifinal at Patsy Mink Field.
"We came together as a team," Samantha Ohigashi said after pitching a shutout that sent Maui High into a meeting with Baldwin today for the tournament championship. "I mean, I love them. I knew they always had my back. At practice we work hard. We always wanted this. I'm just proud of my whole team."
Maui High School players celebrate after the Sabers defeated Lahainaluna 1-0 in the semifinals of the MIL tournament on Thursday
The Maui News / BRAD SHERMAN photo
Ohigashi permitted seven hits while striking out five batters and walking one.
The right-hander allowed four hits in a 1-0 loss to Lahainaluna on April 11 - the Lunas scored in the bottom of the seventh in that game.
"She pitched two great games," said Maui High coach Bobby Medeiros. "We were fortunate enough this time to score a run first."
Brooke Jordan's double in the third inning drove in Thursday's only run.
The Sabers (3-11), who have no seniors and just two juniors on their roster, finished at the bottom of the regular-season standings, but defeated Kamehameha Maui in the MIL tournament's opening round, and are now one win from the state tournament.
"We're going to be automatically focused. We showed everyone, we beat Lahaina. We can do it," Ohigashi said.
Lahainaluna starting pitcher Hope Morikawa faced one batter over the minimum through the first 2 2/3 innings, but Courtney Lau Hee and Liana Tanaka then had back-to-back singles, and Jordan's double drove in Katelyne Dougherty, who was courtesy running for Lau Hee.
"We worked this from the beginning of the season, we tried to get that into their heads, that we can compete with everybody in this league," Medeiros said. "We're young. I have freshmen and sophomores. They were intimidated by the teams we played, I understand that, but as the season progressed, they saw that it was reachable, it was attainable. We talked about it at practice and before the game, and I said, 'As long as you work as hard as you can, you're going to do it.' And they did."
The Lunas (12-1) outscored league opponents 91-10 in winning the regular-season title.
"We just need to go back to the drawing board, refocus and work on what we need to work on, which would be our batting," said Lahainaluna coach Lei Nakamura.
The Lunas will play for the MIL overall championship on Monday, against the winner of today's game.
"They're ready to regroup," Nakamura said. "As we were having the meeting (after the game), they were looking at me, eyes on me, listening to what I'm saying. They're focusing, they're nodding their heads like, yes, they're ready to go."
Ohigashi retired seven of the last eight batters she faced - only an error with two outs in the bottom of the seventh prevented her from finishing the game with consecutive perfect innings. Lahainaluna had just one batter get past second base.
"I felt like I was getting stronger," Ohigashi said.
Tanaka had two hits, as did Morikawa and Brennalyn Nakamura, who pitched the final four innings for the Lunas. Morikawa doubled in the third.
* Brad Sherman is at firstname.lastname@example.org
* BALDWIN 6, KING KEKAULIKE 0: At Patsy Mink Field, Alyssa Ariyoshi pitched a two-hit shutout as Baldwin (10-3) earned a spot in the Division I tournament final.
Sanae Nakoa and Ariyoshi hit back-to-back triples in the Bears' three-run fourth inning.
Nakoa, Ariyoshi and Alysha Sakamura were all 2-for-3. Sakamura also had a triple.
King Kekaulike finishes the season at 6-7.
* SEABURY HALL 19, ST. ANTHONY 10: At Keopuolani Park, Christie Kimura drove in four runs and Megan Kirton had three RBIs and scored four runs as Seabury?Hall defeated St. Anthony in an MIL Division II?first-round game.
Kimura and Kirton both had three hits, as did Taylor Hori, who scored three runs and had an RBI, and Danica Cooley contributed an RBI double for the Spartans (4-5), who will face regular-season champion and top-seeded Hana in the semifinals today.
Kaitlin Kim and Autumn Tam both were 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI, and Emma Smith had a triple and scored two runs for the Trojans (1-8).
MAUI HIGH 1, LAHAINALUNA 0
|Samantha Ohigashi and Samantha Fenton. Hope Morikawa, Brennalyn Nakamura (4) and Jessica Wallace. W—Ohigashi. L—Morikawa. 2B—Maui High, Brooke Jordan. Lahainaluna, Morikawa.|
|BALDWIN 6, KING KEKAULIKE 0|
|Kailey Nobriga and Arianna Valdez. Alyssa Ariyoshi and Sarah Abe. W—Ariyoshi. L—Nobriga. 3B—Baldwin, Ariyoshi, Alysha Sakamura, Sanae Nakoa.|
|SEABURY HALL 19, ST. ANTHONY 10|
Keani Pacheco and Kaitlin Kim. Megan Kirton and Christie Kimura. W-Kirton. L-Pacheco. 3B-St. Anthony, Emma Smith. 2B-St. Anthony, Kim, Autumn Tam; Seabury Hall, Danica Cooley.