By: Wes Nakama
Throughout the sometimes wild and crazy ILH softball season, ‘Iolani has stayed calm and stayed atop the standings. The visiting Raiders did it yet again Wednesday afternoon, holding off Punahou, 10-6, to improve to 8-1.
That’s good for a two-game lead over second-place Kamehameha, and four games in front of both Punahou (4-5) and Maryknoll (4-5).
“It’s very competitive, from what I’ve noticed, it’s always the team that makes the least amount of mistakes that comes out on top,” said ‘Iolani first-year coach Chad Cordero. “Our pitchers bent a little bit (today), but they didn’t break. And same with our offense, we started a little bit slow, but they picked it up in the (later) innings and put some good swings on it, and good things happened.”
The Buff ‘n Blue took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning on Taryn Ho’s two-run homer over the fence just inside the left field foul line. ‘Iolani answered with five runs on six hits in the top of the fourth, highlighted by Hunter Salausa-Galletes’ solo home run deep over the left-center field fence and Natalie Ching’s RBI single to center.
The Raiders’ scored five more runs in the fifth, taking advantage of four walks and cashing in on Mia Carbonell’s two-out grand slam over the center field fence to make it 10-2.
“My first at-bat I got a walk, and my second one I hit a pop fly, so I knew that I either needed to hit a gapper, or just get something through so two of the runners could get in,” said Carbonell, a junior catcher. “We just kept going deeper in the count, because she was getting a lot of walks, so we just took that to our advantage and let her come to us. We knew we could hit with two strikes.”
Punahou got a run back in the sixth on Sydney Capello’s RBI single to center field, and then closed it to 10-6 in the seventh on Capello’s two-out, three-run homer.
But reliever Kiara Baba then struck out the next batter to end the game.
“When you have a big lead like that, as a pitcher you just want to go right at them,” said Cordero, a former seven-year Major League Baseball veteran who led the National League with 47 saves in 2005 as the closer for the Washington Nationals. “You want to make them earn it, because chances are … are they going to hit a home run all the time? Not really. More times than not, they’re going to get themselves out, because they’re pressing.”
Buff ‘n Blue coach Boy Eldredge, himself a former catcher at Brigham Young University and former baseball head coach at Hawai’i Pacific University, said he is impressed with how ‘Iolani has stayed composed throughout an unpredictable and high-scoring ILH season so far.
“They’re very disciplined and well-coached, and especially when the game is close, they all do their part and take care of their job,” Eldredge said. “I thought this might be a rebuilding year for them, but they have a lot of mental toughness and they know how to battle back when they get down.”