KAHULUI - Nanakuli High School got back to the final stop at the DataHouse Division II State Softball Championship.
The Golden Hawks rode two early home runs from sisters Precious and Alexis Paulo-Meyers and a five-hit shutout by Chyanne Koko to a 10-0, six-inning victory over Kauai in the semifinals Thursday at Patsy Mink Field.
Last season, Nanakuli lost to Waimea in the state final. This time, the second-seeded Golden Hawks (14-1) will play St. Francis for the state crown.
Nanakuli’s Alexis Paulo-Meyers is greeted at home plate by her teammates after her third-inning home run against Kauai in a semifinal game Thursday at Patsy Mink Field.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
The Golden Hawks’ Chyanne Koko pitched a five-hitter.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
"There is a lot of motivation after last year," Precious Paulo-Meyers said. "I guess everyone wants to make good hits now."
Precious Paulo-Meyers hit a two-run homer in the first inning that cleared a secondary fence in left field with room to spare. Alexis Paulo-Meyers led off the third with a line-drive homer to left.
The last time each sister homered in the same game was last season, also in the state semifinals.
DataHouse Division II State Softball Championship
At Patsy Mink Field
McKinley 10, Hana 2
Aiea 16, Molokai 3
Kamehameha Hawaii 9, Kohala 4
Nanakuli 10, Kauai 0, 6 innings
St. Francis 14, Waimea 6
Kaiser vs. McKinley, noon
Aiea vs. Kamehameha Hawaii, 2 p.m.
Kauai vs. Waimea, 4 p.m.
Nanakuli vs. St. Francis, 6 p.m.
"It was very important because we usually start slow," Precious Paulo-Meyers said. "But after that the mood was pumping."
Nanakuli coach Ricky Gusman said, "They really got us going. I usually put my better hitters in the leadoff spot so she (Alexis Paulo-Meyers) gets more times at the plate, so if the opportunity presents itself she's the next one up on deck. The two Meyers kids, they are pretty talented, gifted athletes."
Alexis Paulo-Meyers finished 2-for-4 with three runs and three RBIs, Emma Kawaiaea was 3-for-3 with three RBIs and a run and Kelcie DeFreitas was 2-for-2 with an RBI and run.
Koko struck out four batters and walked one. Her teammates played flawless defense behind her, although senior center fielder Lauren Ku was hurt running into the wall on a triple by Kyana Hirokane in the first inning. Gusman said the team's trainer indicated Ku will not be able to play today.
Hirokane finished a home run short of the cycle.
Nanakuli increased the lead to 7-0 in the fourth - Ashley Vangieson singled and later scored on a balk, and Alexis Paulo-Meyers smacked a two-run double before coming home on a single by Kawaiaea.
After DeFreitas' sacrifice fly in the fifth, the Golden Hawks ended the game in the sixth on Kawaiaea's two-run double.
Gusman said the two-time Oahu Interscholastic Association D-II champions are ready to finish what they started last year.
"There's a lot of motivation," he said. "It's something we have been talking about, dreaming about. Last year was a dream season for us to win the OIA coming out of Nanakuli. To win it two in a row, that's another step, but we need to finish off and seek our dreams.
"Whatever comes tomorrow, win or lose, we put ourselves in a position to get there."
Kauai fell to 9-6.
"They are tough. I mean great hitting, good, solid defense," Red Raiders coach Kassie Wong said of the Golden Eagles. "We hit the ball really hard today, but they just jumped up there and just grabbed it. We hit some line drives that normally would go through for two bags, but they wouldn't let us. They played really tough and their defense is really solid."
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kailee Nii, Courtney Laamea (3) and Tammie Yoshimori; Chyanne Koko and Precious Paulo-Meyers. W-Koko. L-Nii. 2B-Kauai: Kyana Hirokane; Nanakuli: Alexis Paulo-Meyers, Emma Kawaiaea 2, Kelcie DeFreitas. 3B-Kauai: Hirokane. HR-Nanakuli: P. Paulo-Meyers, A. Paulo-Meyers.