Kessell leads Kailua

By Jason Kaneshiro

With a gusty breeze whipping across the Kailua High School softball field, Courtney Kessell blew away the Kaimuki lineup to lead the Surfriders to an 8-0 win over the Bulldogs yesterday.

Kessell, a sophomore right-hander, struck out 12 and surrendered just two hits as Kailua improved to 4-0 in the Oahu Interscholastic Association Eastern Division. Kaimuki fell to 3-1 with the loss.

Castle (4-0) is tied with Kailua for first place in the division after defeating Moanalua 4-0 on Lia Pedrina's two-hitter yesterday. The Knights host Kailua on Jan. 15.

Kessell, a second-team All-State selection as a freshman, added a couple of pitches to her repertoire this season, but relied on her riser to handcuff the Bulldogs.

"I wanted to keep them off balance and throw them pitches they hadn't seen before," Kessell said. "But the riser was working and they weren't hitting it."

The Kailua bats gave Kessell a comfortable lead early in the game, scoring three runs in both of the Surfriders' first two turns at bat.

Chante Mundon tripled with one out in the bottom of the first and scored on a single by Tanisha Milca. Kamaile Hughes followed with a double to score Milca, who went 3-for-4 with two runs batted in.

The Surfriders added to their lead in the bottom of the second when shortstop Rusty-Ann Borges, the ninth batter in the Kailua lineup, launched a pitch from Dalia Solia over the left-field fence for a two-run homer.

"We didn't do that well in the preseason hitting the ball," Kailua coach Bernard Victor said. "But lately we've been putting some runs on the board for (Kessell). It makes it a lot easier to pitch."

Kessell allowed the leadoff hitter to reach base in the first two innings, but came back with three consecutive strikeouts both times. She walked two batters in the game and gave up singles to Solia and Punohu Aiko. None of the Kaimuki runners advanced past second base.

"Last year I didn't know what I was doing, but now I have more experience and confidence," she said.

Kaimuki will try to stay in the division title hunt when the Bulldogs take on Moanalua on Wednesday. Kailua next plays McKinley on Saturday.

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