By: Wes Nakama
A short memory went a long way for the Kalani softball team Thursday afternoon, as the Falcons quickly recovered from Tuesday’s humbling defeat at Kaiser to crush Moanalua, 17-6, at Kilauea District Park.
Naomi Stremick pitched a complete game and went 3 for 5 with two RBIs and Haley Ching went 2 for 3 with two home runs and five RBIs as Kalani won via the 10-run rule with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning. The Falcons, who lost to East champion Kaiser, 12-2, on Tuesday, finished the regular season at 10-2 and will be the division’s No. 2 seed in next week’s OIA Tournament. The victory also earned Kalani a first-round bye.
Moanalua fell to 9-3 and will begin playoff action on Wednesday as the East’s No. 3 seed.
“We took that feeling of being down (from Tuesday’s loss) to practice the next day, and that day we bounced back from that and we practiced really hard and focused,” said Ching, a sophomore center fielder. “And (then) we just took that energy to today.”
It actually was Moanalua that struck first, jumping to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning after Kara Miyoshi reached on a one-out single and Emily Tome followed with a home run. But the Falcons quickly responded with three runs in the bottom half, on Layna Faria’s sacrifice fly and RBI singles from Ashlyn Sera and Leona Stremick.
Kalani then added six more runs in the second inning, sparked by Faria’s RBI groundout and Ching’s three-run homer over the center field fence. The last two runs came across on a two-out error, making it 9-2.
“Everyone stayed up, no one got down (after the early deficit),” Ching said. “Especially because we were at home, this is our home field. We’re more comfortable here.”
Na Menehune closed it to 9-3 in the third on Hunter Jackson’s RBI single, but the Falcons again responded with two runs in the bottom half, on Naomi Stremick’s RBI single and Sera’s sacrifice fly to push the lead to 11-3.
Malia Taga’s run-scoring single closed it to 11-4 in the fourth inning, but Kalani answered in the bottom half on Kylie Tanimura’s solo homer to make it 12-4.
Moanalua cut it to 12-6 in the sixth after Raean Bumagat’s pinch RBI triple to right-center and Taga’s run-scoring single, but the Falcons responded yet again in the bottom half with RBI singles from Naomi Stremick and Faria, followed by Ching’s game-ending two-run homer over the fence in right-center.
“I think Tuesday’s game was tough, Kaiser out-hit us, and we just couldn’t line up the hits at all,” Kalani coach Iris Stremick said. “Everyone was kind of down … we got on the bus, and I told them when we get off, we’ll leave that (loss) on the bus. Tomorrow is a new day, and we’re gonna go out strong and just focus on one thing at a time, one game at a time. We came back to practice, and they were all happy and having fun and ready to go to work.”
Taga went 3 for 4 with two RBIs, Tome went 2 for 3 with two RBIs and Jackson finished 2 for 4 with one RBI to lead Na Menehune. Besides Ching and Naomi Stremick, the Falcons’ offense was led by Maddix Muramoto (2 for 2, double, stolen base, two runs), Tanimura (2 for 3, RBI), Leona Stremick (2 for 4, RBI), Faria (1 for 3, 4 RBIs) and Sera (1 for 3, 2 RBIs).
“We had a good, strong batting practice and our main thing was stay strong, support each other, can’t sweat the little things, and we just gotta move on,” Iris Stremick said. “And they do really well at that, because they are a close team and they know they got each other’s back. That’s a credit to them, and every single one of them — whether they’re a starter or on the bench, they’re ready to contribute. I think that’s been our strength for this year.”