By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
HONOKAA — Kaitlin Agustin fired a one-hitter, and the Honokaa junior right-hander received all the run support she needed when Hawaii Prep’s inexperience showed up in all the wrong places in a 16-run second inning in the first round of the Division II playoffs.
That combination catapulted the Dragons over the Ka Makani 23-1 in a five-inning TKO Big Island Interscholastic Federation softball game Tuesday at Honokaa’s Parks and Recreation complex.
Honokaa (7-4 BIIF, 11-4) travels to play Konawaena (6-4, 8-6) at 3 p.m. Thursday in the semifinals for a berth to the Hawaii High School Athletic Association state tournament.
The season is over for HPA (1-10, 1-14), which loses only one starting senior in catcher Camille Kiyota.
The Dragons are young, too. They have no starting seniors and are already big-game veterans. Honokaa has been to states the last two years, a difference against HPA that showed in all phases of the game — from pitching to hitting and defense.
“There’s no substitute for experience. Once we gain that, we’ll be a fun team,” HPA coach Betsy Tranquilli said. “Softball is a humbling game. It doesn’t matter how good of an athlete you are, hitting the ball is one of the hardest things to do in sports.”
Agustin’s only hit allowed was a sharp single to Ranko Ono through the shortstop’s hole in the third inning. Agustin walked three, struck out two and gave up an unearned run in the fourth when Kaui Taylor reached on a fielder’s choice, advanced on an error and scored on a wild pitch.
“We wanted to come out with a bang because if we lose this game then that’s it,” Agustin said. “We wanted to get ahead by the third inning.”
Her offense arrived an inning earlier than expected.
In the second, HPA junior right-hander Kawena Lim-Samura surrendered three straight hits, and Shereena Bird followed with a two-run double. Allie Shiraki and Kayla Kalauli had back-to-back walks with the bases loaded for a 4-0 lead, and Kayla Requelman reached on an error, scoring two runs.
Lim-Samura struck out Agustin. Then disaster struck. The next seven Dragons reached base and scored.
In that 16-run inning, there were eight walks (two by Tehane Reynolds for the only hitters she faced), accounting for seven runs, and three errors, leading to eight unearned runs. Honokaa sophomore second baseman Shennon Dela Rosa had three at-bats in the inning and went 2 for 3, driving in a run and scoring twice.
She finished 3 for 4 with two RBIs, Agustin went 2 for 5 with two RBIs and Bird was 2 for 3 with three RBIs.
In four innings, Lim-Samura walked 10, surrendered 21 runs (11 unearned), struck out two and never wavered in her confidence.
“After a few runs, I tried to get myself up,” Lim-Samura said. “I could feel the rest of the team go down. I wanted to fight, get strikes and get out of the inning. When my body gets tired, instead of my top and bottom working together it all comes off.
“When coach takes me out and I feel Tehane is not doing too good, I want to go back in. I just don’t like giving up.”
Lim-Samura has been pitching since the sixth grade and has suffered a few lopsided losses this season. It’s all part of suffering a steep learning curve with rather inexperienced teammates.
“We’ve got a really young team and a lot of them are new to the game,” Tranquilli said. “I’m excited to see them develop and grow. Inexperience brings growing pains. They’re young kids and doing their best.
“Kawena and I talked that it’s not the first time she had a blowout inning. Mental toughness is something you can’t teach. You have to go through it. As the mental part of her game catches up to the physical part, I look forward to her senior year.”
Meanwhile, the Dragons not only feature experienced youth, but also a healthy supply of hot bats. They banged out seven hits in the second-inning explosion. Several balls were tattooed, including Bird’s rocket double to right-center field.
“The girls looked good. They hit the ball and never gave up (with a big lead) and played the game all the way through,” Honokaa coach Wesley Fujimoto said. “Kaitlin looked good for someone who hasn’t pitched for the last four games. In the second inning, the main thing is we hit the ball and stayed on it.”
The he looked ahead to the Wildcats, who beat Honokaa 6-4 on April 10.
“We’ve got to hit against Kona and make no errors,” Fujimoto said. “Our defense is looking a lot better.”
HPA 000 10 — 1 1 7
Honokaa 0(16)5 2x— 23 13 2
Kohala 5, Pahoa 3: Freshman Briana Harrison only had one hit Tuesday at Kamehameha Park, but it was a big one.
Harrison drove a two-out pitch over the left field wall and broke a 3-3 tie to advance the Cowgirls (6-9) to Thursday’s semifinal game at Kamehameha-The fifth-inning, two-run home run provided the final margin.
Tiani Luga allowed three runs on six hits over seven innings, struck out three and walked none to earn the win. Kumulani Kaai added a base hit.
Mackenzie Singleton took the loss for Pahoa (3-13). She allowed five runs on four hits and eight walks with two strikeouts. Kayla Silva went 2-for-3 with a solo home run for the Daggers.
Pahoa 012 000 0 — 3 6 2
Kohala 120 020 x — 5 4 3
Division II first round
Kohala 5, Pahoa 3
Honokaa 23, Hawaii Prep 1
No. 4 Kealakehe (5-5 BIIF, 7-7) at No. 1 Hilo (9-1 BIIF, 13-2), 3 p.m.
No. 3 Waiakea (6-4 BIIF, 9-6) at Keaau (7-3 BIIF, 10-5), 3 p.m.
No. 4 Kohala (4-7 BIIF, 6-9) at No. 1 Kamehameha (10-0 BIIF, 14-1), 3 p.m.
No. 3 Honokaa (7-4 BIIF, 11-4) at Konawaena (6-4, 8-6), 3 p.m.
Semifinal winners, 1 p.m. at higher seed
Semifinal winners, 1 p.m. at higher seed
Semifinal losers, 1 p.m. at higher seed