LAHAINA - Haley Nakamura knew what she had to do.
After watching her Lahainaluna High School softball team surrender a four-run lead to rival Baldwin - sparked by a few fortunate bounces for the Bears - Nakamura delivered a towering triple to the wall in right field to give the Lunas a 5-4 walk-off win on Wednesday at their on-campus field.
"To be honest, I was really nervous because I wasn't really trusting my hitting this past week," said the senior shortstop, who is headed to New Mexico State on a softball scholarship in the fall. "I kept going for balls that I just kept fouling and I just told myself, 'Just don't strike out' because I feel like I help this team and I don't want to let them down."
Lahainaluna High School third baseman Lithe Pokipala-Waiohu charges a bunt by Baldwin’s Alysha Sakamura in the seventh inning of the Lunas’ 5-4 win over the Bears on Wednesday in Lahaina.
The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo
Lahainaluna (3-0) beat Baldwin (2-1) for the eighth straight time in a battle between last season's two Division I state-tournament teams for the Maui Interscholastic League.
Nakamura's game-winner scored fellow senior Hope Morikawa, Lahainaluna's pitcher, who had led off the inning with a line-drive single to center.
"When I saw the ball fly I wanted Hope to hurry up and go home," Nakamura said.
|KS Maui||2||2||.500||1 1/2|
|Lahainaluna 5, Baldwin 4|
|Kamehameha Maui 7, King Kekaulike 3|
|Seabury Hall vs. Molokai|
|at Eddie Tam Field, 4 p.m.|
Baldwin's Skylynne Ellazar led off the top of the seventh with an infield single and Alysha Sakamura followed with a bunt that was misplayed to put runners on first and second. Kylie Rose Dickson reached on a fielder's-choice grounder to Nakamura, who forced Ellazar at third base for the first out.
Lily Bermudez followed with a bouncer that glanced off the glove of third baseman Lithe Pokipala-Waiohu and landed at the feet of Nakamura for a hit to load the bases. Liana Bermudez's ground ball to Nakamura scored Sakamura.
"It was a tough inning, but I'll take that win any day," Nakamura said.
The Lunas scored twice in each of the first two innings - Rhyn Lendio, Lyla Talaroc-Kaniho and Pokipala-Waiohu all had RBI singles and Nakamura stole home.
Baldwin scored its first run in the fourth on an RBI single by Kawena Cabrera after a nine-pitch battle with Morikawa.
Back-to-back RBI singles by Dickson and Lily Bermudez made it 4-3 in the fifth.
"We knew that today's game was going to be a good game, we knew that," Lahainaluna coach Lei Nakamura said. "Everybody contributed today, it was really nice to start off really well. Then in the seventh I felt pretty good, knowing it was the top of the lineup, 1-2-3 coming up - they are there for a reason."
These two teams have two more regular-season games and could see each other in the MIL tournament as well.
"Tough ballgame," Baldwin coach Steve Morton said. "They played well, they hit the ball when they needed to. We thought we would come back in the end, which we did, but one hit by Haley cost us. It was a good game and we will be back again."
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com
Baldwin ............ 000 ..... 120 ..... 1-4 ..... 4 ..... 3
Lahainaluna ..... 220 ..... 000 ..... 1-5 ..... 6 ..... 4
Sanae Nakoa and Sarah Abe. Hope Morikawa and Jessica Wallace.
W-Morikawa. L-Nakoa. 3B-LL, Haley Nakamura.
Leading hitter-LL, Nakamura 2-3, RBI.