Kapolei's Austi Paris was put out at the plate by Mililani catcher Stacy Sakata yesterday.

Kapolei wins
OIA softball title

A tradition-rich team took a back seat to the new, spunky kids on the block yesterday as Kapolei defeated Mililani 3-1 for the Oahu Interscholastic Association softball championship.

The determined Hurricanes (12-1), who have only fielded a varsity team for three years, took advantage of a crucial, two-run infield error by the Trojans (11-2) in the fourth inning.

Even on its home field, Mililani --which had won five of the last seven OIA titles going into yesterday --was unable to get out of that hole.

"With tradition like that, you're already almost down a run before you even start," Kapolei coach Tony Saffery said. "They made an error that allowed a couple of runs to come in. That's what sports is all about --who makes the least amount of mistakes."

Saffery told the Hurricanes to be aggressive on the basepaths, but the plan nearly backfired in the first when Austi Paris was pegged out at home trying to score from second base on Malama Manuma's hit to shallow left.

"We wanted to establish ourselves and not just settle for one base, but to keep pushing for the next base," Saffery said. "I told the girls that in order to be champions, you have to play like champions, like the title is theirs. Even though she was out at home, I still wanted them to keep pressing."

The Trojans took a 1-0 lead in the second when Melissa Lehano doubled, then scored on Casey Sugihara's base hit to center.

With two outs and runners on first and second in the fourth, Kapolei went up 2-1 when Paris and Manuma crossed the plate on a Mililani infield overthrow.

"That one error escalated," said Trojans coach Mike Okimoto, whose team won a 1-0 regular-season contest against the Hurricanes. "It took our momentum away. With a 1-0 lead, you like to think you can hold them off and win the game."

Kapolei added its final run in the fifth when left fielder Anita Manuma singled to drive home Jasmin Sanchez.

"I believe in this team," said Manuma, who also started the Hurricanes' fourth-innning rally by beating out an infield hit. "I knew at the start of the season that we could do this and become champions. We can continue to believe. We've come this far, so why not go all the way."

With the win, Kapolei earned a bye in the first round of next week's state tournament. Mililani will also play at the states.

"We lost because of the mistakes we made," said Trojans infielder Charity Senas, who sat out much of the regular season with a knee injury and is playing third base instead of shortstop. "We can't let our communication drop and should have picked ourselves up instead of carrying it over to the next innings. But we'll be ready (for the states). I still think we played a good game."

Senas, a captain who will play for Hawaii-Hilo next year, was one of just three Mililani seniors in the starting lineup yesterday.

"We had a lot of players in there who were playing in their first OIA championship game," Okimoto said. "We still got to where we wanted to be --the show. If we can get to the show at the states, I told our girls that would be awesome."

Kapolei pitcher Tajia Acierto finished with a complete-game four-hitter. Dana Lee, who took the loss, allowed six hits and gave up just one earned run.

"This is so excellent, so great," Acierto said about the team's first title. "It's such an intense feeling right now. We did it with our hard work, confidence and the belief that we can be No. 1."

At Mililani H.S. field
Kapolei 000 210 0 -- 3 6 2
Mililani 010 000 0 -- 1 4 3

W--Tajia Acierto. L--Dana Lee.
Leading hitters--Mili: Melissa Lehano 2b; Kimberly Goo 2b; Casey Sugihara RBI. Kap: Anita Manuma 2-4, RBI; Jasmin Sanchez 1-2.

Third-place game
Pearl City 2, Kailua 2, 12 innings
Fifth-place game (winner earns state berth)
Castle 3, Leilehua 1


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