HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL
Mililani in good form
While many of the faces have changed on the Mililani softball team, the Trojans showed yesterday that they have not strayed from the formula that took them to the state final the past two seasons.
Mililani used an opportunistic offense, steady defense and the pitching of ace Makani Duhaylonsod to drop Pearl City, 11-0 in five innings, in a rematch of last year's Division I state championship game.
"We came out a little flat today, but we were able to execute when we had the opportunities and then we started putting some hits together and Makani did what she does best," said Mililani head coach Rose Antonio.
Third-year ace Duhaylonsod efficiently mixed a fastball, a drop and her signature changeup to limit the Chargers to two singles in posting the shutout. The two-time All-State selection also recorded seven strikeouts in improving to 4-1 on the season.
"Our defense is really good again this year," Duhaylonsod said. "They make it easy for me and allow me to concentrate on pitching for ground balls. We have a few rookies starting for us this year and they have done a great job for us out there."
The Trojans scored the game's first run in the top of the third on an RBI single by sophomore Glenelle Nitta. Jaimee Aiwohi led off the inning with a two-base error by the Pearl City outfield, and moved to third on a well-placed sacrifice by Courtney Abear, setting Nitta up for her first RBI of the season.
Mililani scored four more runs in the fourth before putting together a huge six-run fifth to shorten the contest due to the league's mercy rule.
Courtney Senas led off the fifth inning with a ground-rule double to right center and remained at second base briefly as Duhaylonsod flied out to left. Tierra Cuba followed with a double to left center to begin a parade of six consecutive Mililani hits, keyed by a two-run inside-the-park homer by Nitta.
"I was just trying to hit the ball today," Nitta said. "Coach Rose has been working with me on adding a trigger to my swing to help me with my timing and keep me closed, and I guess it worked."
Change has not been so kind to the Chargers, who lost four All-State performers to graduation following last season's championship run, including state Position Player of the Year Marina Gusman-Brown and state Pitcher of the Year Corrie Nishikida, leaving coach Keoke Behic with just one returning regular.
"The good news is that all four girls have gone on to play college ball," Behic said. "Corrie and Marina are currently playing JUCO ball in Arizona, and Kanani (Numata) and Shanna (Vierra) are both playing over at UH-Hilo.
"The tough part is having to fill those spots with inexperienced players. But that's part of my job as coach, to help develop these young players."