Konawaena spent the offseason stewing after a 17-3 five-inning mercy rule loss to Kamehameha in last year’s Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division II title game.
On Tuesday, the Wildcats got the gratifying taste of redemption, upending the Warriors 2-1 in a defensive battle at Gabby Inaba Field in Kealakekua. Dorian Anu Binney recorded the complete game, four-hit win for Konawaena (2-0) in the battle of aces.
Reigning Division II Player of the Year Mykala Tokunaga took the loss, despite racking up eight strikeouts and just a single walk.
“It’s a nice redemption for us and a great gauge to see where we are at early in the season,” Konawaena head coach Shellie Grace said. “Anu did awesome on the mound. She deserved this one. This year she has progressed a lot. Last year she was hardly on the mound, but since the offseason and even preseason she has grown so much.”
For Kamehameha, the loss stings but will serve as a welcome lesson for the new-look roster on what the Warriors have to improve upon in pursuit of a third consecutive championship.
“I think what we are going to take away from this is that we have to keep our heads up and in the game, no matter what,” Kamehameha assistant coach Akea Kiyuna said. “The girls can be really hard on themselves, so we have to learn to bounce back quickly when we make mistakes.”
Kamehameha (1-1) lost six starters from last year’s championship team and has been in search for firepower in the lineup. However, the Warriors did not have a full arsenal to draw from Tuesday, as multiple players were missing because of practice for the school’s Hoike festival, which the students are graded on.
“The girls held their own today,” Kiyuna said. “The ones that played really stepped up and I don’t think it is an excuse for us.”
While Binney’s performance locks her in as one of the Wildcats’ aces going forward, behind the plate, Kiersen Kawehi Kahele, was the hero for Konawaena.
Kahele was just 1-of-3 against Tokunaga, but her hit — one of just five allowed — came at the perfect time.
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth, Kahele hit a blooper that dropped in front of Kamehameha left fielder Jayla Alonzo-Estrada, driving in Jayssa Grace and Shyla Victor.
Syleesia Jose was the most successful hitter against Tokunaga, recording her first and second hits of the season. No other Wildcat had multiple hits Tuesday.
Kamehameha made its best run in the top of the fifth. Kekai Wong Yuen hit a stand-up double to right field, to drive in Kaila Kaaihue and make it a one-run game.
With momentum and the go-ahead run at the plate, the Warriors were in great position to take the lead, but just moments later Wong Yuen was caught attempting to steal third to end the inning.
Binney was lights out on the mound, but received some help from the defense behind her.
The numerous amount of highlight reel fielding plays was topped by an athletic diving catch by Jayssa Grace in right field in the top of the sixth. Grace’s play drew a thunderous cheer from the home crowd and lit a fire under the defense heading into the final stanza.
Binney did the rest. The senior hurler recorded two strikeouts and no hits in the final inning, cementing the win for the Wildcats.
The loss now sets up Kamehameha’s own shot at redemption when the postseason rolls around.
“I know the girls really want to see them again in the playoffs,” Kiyuna said. “If we play them again, do everything right, and still lose, we will know at least it was be a better game on our part.”
• Hilo 10, Kohala 0: Aliesa Kaneshiro hurled a one-hit shutout to lead the Vikings (2-0) to a five-inning TKO win over the visiting Cowgirls.
Kaneshiro struck out seven and walked one to earn the win. Ashlyn Van Zandt went the distance for Kohala and took the loss.
Kaneshiro also helped herself with the bat, going 2 for 3 with two doubles and three runs batted in. Shyanne Higa-Gonsalves (2 triples, 2 RBIs), Shaylin Guthier, Amber Vaughn (2 RBIs) and Moana Pinner each had two hits. Teammate Reisha Hoopii-Haslam added a triple.
Kiana Alejandro had the lone hit off Kaneshiro, a single in the fifth inning.
Kohala 000 00 — 0 1 1
Hilo 055 0x — 10 12 0