Kauai senior made most of last chance


POSTED: Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wailana Borrero may have been the best pitcher the rest of the state hardly knew.

The Kauai senior won all three starts as the Red Raiders stormed to their first Division II state softball championship on Saturday. The classic pitchers' duel between Borrero and Waialua ace Marissa Keao was a hard-luck battle; neither hurler allowed an earned run. Kauai won 1-0, courtesy of a booming RBI double to deep center by Jessica Iwata, who is headed to the University of Hawaii to play for the Rainbow Wahine.

Borrero was at her best in the final, fueled by memories of years past.

“;It felt good after not getting it the last two years,”; she said of Kauai's second-place finishes in 2007 and '08.

Borrero struck out six and walked just one in her two-hit shutout, but credited her team and its unity.

“;We're more mature. We're really close. We don't have any dramas,”; she said. “;We just have fun.”;

A week ago, Borrero—who calls her pitches as first-year catcher Carly Matsumoto nods in agreement—had to think back to March and a preseason game with Waialua.

“;We played them at the St. Francis tournament,”; she said of a game that ended in a tie. “;I knew they could hit high balls,”; Borrero said. “;I had to keep the ball low and inside. Our defense has worked hard and it's a lot stronger now.”;

The Red Raiders are the first softball champ from the Kauai Interscholastic Federation since 1990, when Waimea won the crown.

“;I wasn't even born yet,”; Borrero said.

Coach Darrell Borrero, Wailana's father, couldn't contain his joy.

“;All season long, her drops did good,”; he said. “;(Keao) pitched a helluva game. She has a good rise ball. That gave us a hard time bunting the ball.”;

Coaching runs in Darrell Borrero's family. His brother is Kauai football coach Derek Borrero.

“;It's a relief. We work hard and we have fun,”; he said. “;I'm so thankful for that.”;

Bulldogs went far

Waialua's state softball title aspirations rode heavily on the shoulders of its senior ace, Keao, who never lost her cool through the heat of postseason play. Coach Jay Keao, Marissa's father, was surprised by the loss, but proud of his team.

“;I expected the win, but the girls came this close and set the tone for years to come,”; he said.

Waialua's strong following of about 100 fans would've rejoiced with a state title. Even without the title trophy, their fans were clearly among the most happy to be in the final.

“;It would've been awesome if we had won (the final),”; Marissa said. “;Its never happened before. My teammates, they made this year fun.”;

She has no clear plan yet about her future in softball, but one thing is certain: Marissa won't be playing for her father.

“;I'm going to miss him,”; she said. “;I love my dad.”;