Major League Baseball likes to keep teams busy at the RBI Softball World Series with off-the-field projects.
With that in mind, the Big Island’s Nobu Yamauchi wasn’t all that interested in wasting any time once it hit the field for its opener.
Makena Wagner allowed only two hits in four innings in a rare start Wednesday and Bethany Batangan connected for three hits as Hawaii beat Minnesota 8-0 in a five-inning TKO in pool play in Grapevine, Texas.
“Maybe we started a little sluggish with the amount of days we didn’t swing the bats,” coach Tracy Miyashiro said. “They started getting a little more comfortable and got into the groove of playing ball.”
Wagner was primarily a shortstop during her sophomore season at Kamehameha-Hawaii, but Miyashiro decided to start her in the circle after watching Minnesota during a pregame workout.
“I kind of knew they weren’t going to be very good,” he said.
In his mind, co-aces Mykala Tokunaga and Aliesa Kaneshiro are better served resting up for the remainder of the tournament.
All eight teams in the under-19 event will advance to the elimination round, which begins Saturday.
“That’s when the games really count,” Miyashiro said.
With the heat hovering in the mid-90s on Wednesday in North Texas, Wagner worked around five walks and struck out two. Kaneshiro struck out a batter during a perfect fifth.
Batangan, a Konawaena senior, doubled and scored in the fourth, and she singled in a run and scored as Hilo put the game away by scoring five times in the fifth. Kaneshiro, a Hilo High graduate, and Kealakehe junior Tavian Taketa each finished with two hits, including RBI singles in the fifth. Taketa also reached on a double.
On Thursday, Hilo plays the other two teams on its side of the bracket, meeting Houston at 8 a.m. local time and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic at 10:30 a.m.
The early starts are necessary because Hawaii is scheduled to take part in a community-service project at a food bank later in the day.
“That’s how it is here. It a very busy schedule and you don’t get much rest,” said Miyashiro, who was an assistant coach the last time Nobu Yamauchi won the World Series in 2009. “I tell the girls to just go with the flow, enjoy the experience and what MLB has to offer.”
After being retired in order in the first inning, Tokunaga, a Kamehameha junior, led off the second with a triple and scored on Skylar Thomas’ groundout.
Kamehameha junior Kekai Wong Yuen tripled to ignite the rally in the fifth and gave Hawaii a 4-0 lead on Skylar Thomas’ single.
Waiakea sophomore Tierra Tevas drove in a run and scored twice.
Minnesota 000 00 — 0 2 4
Hawaii 010 25 — 8 11 0