By JOE FERRARO
HONOKAA — In the circle, she pitched a complete game. At the plate, she surprised herself by showing some power.
For Precious Palea-Enos, her 16th birthday couldn’t have been much sweeter.
Palea-Enos pitched a five-hitter, and Honokaa’s softball team pounded out six extra-base hits in beating Kohala 10-4 on Tuesday in a Big Island Interscholastic Federation softball game at Honokaa’s Parks and Recreation complex.
“The best birthday ever,’’ said Palea-Enos, who had the first of the Dragons’ four triples. “We won a game we were supposed to win, I was pitching good and I was hitting good surprisingly.’’
With its victory, Honokaa (6-3 BIIF, 10-3 overall) remained in sole possession of second place in the BIIF Division II standings — a game ahead of third-place Konawaena (5-4, 7-6). If the Dragons beat Kealakehe at home on Saturday, they can clinch a first-round bye in the BIIF Division II tournament, which begins Tuesday.
Honokaa hit the ball exceptionally well during a six-game winning streak the Wildcats snapped last Wednesday, silencing the Dragons’ bats in a 6-4 victory.
But it didn’t take Honokaa long to get back on track offensively, pounding out six hits — five with two outs — against the Cowgirls (3-6 Division II, 5-8) during a five-run first inning.
Palea-Enos blasted her triple well over the head of Kohala left fielder Briana Harrison and down the left-field line to plate the Dragons’ first run, and the sophomore scored on Kaitlin Agustin’s sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.
Then Honokaa strung together five consecutive hits against Cowgirls starter Tiani Luga.
Zarina Hasegawa hit a sharp liner to left that took a bad hop on a charging Harrison and rolled to the fence for an inside-the-park home run. Then Jasmine Castro, Chasity Nickel, Shennon Dela Rosa and Shereena Bird had four straight singles to give Honokaa a 5-0 advantage.
The Dragons put forth the offensive performance without coach Wesley Fujimoto, who was in Hilo attending to family matters.
“That’s one thing we can almost always guarantee is our hitting,’’ Honokaa assistant coach Kiana Molina said. “Just about everybody was on fire.’’
Eight of the nine batters in the Dragons order hit safely, with Agustin and Chasity Nickel both going 2 for 3 with a triple. Allie Shiraki had Honokaa’s other triple, and Castro went 2 for 4 with a double.
Bird and Dela Rosa both had two RBIs, with Bird’s sacrifice fly in the fifth staking Honokaa to a 9-0 advantage.
All the while, Palea-Enos had good control, keeping the ball low in the strike zone and retiring 10 Kohala batters on infield popups. She struck out five batters and walked three.
“It’s hard to come back from five runs down, but we tried,’’ Cowgirls coach Terrence Alcoran said. “But (Palea-Enos) was pitching good.’’
Kohala scored four unearned runs off Palea-Enos in the sixth to pull within 9-4. Kiana Alejandro-Cazimero and Sheana Cazimero highlighted the inning with RBI singles.
Alcoran said Luga experienced “dizzy spells” in the circle, forcing her to leave the game after 1 1/3 innings.
In taking the loss, Luga allowed seven runs on seven hits, striking out one and walking one.
Ashlyn Van Zandt pitched admirably in 5 2/3 innings of relief, giving up three runs on four hits. She struck out two and walked three.
Kohala 000 004 0 — 4 5 1
Honokaa 521 101 x — 10 11 2