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Mililani trounces Kamehameha, 14-1, to win first state title since 2014

By Wes Nakama

Mililani ended its 10-year state title drought in a huge way Friday night, trouncing Kamehameha, 14-1, to win the HHSAA/Data House Softball Championship.

The game at Rainbow Wahine Stadium was shortened to five innings due to the 10-run rule, after senior center fielder Sunni Kahanu hit two home runs — including  a grand slam — and freshman left-hander Haunani Bautista completed a four-hitter to help the top-seeded OIA champion Trojans finish the season at 17-1. The No. 2 seed ILH champion Warriors ended at 14-6.

“It’s very heart-warming, it’s just a really great feeling knowing we came this far,” said Kahanu, who will play for Hawai’i next season. “After having experienced the COVID (cancelled season) my freshman year, and now ending up my senior year here … it’s amazing.”

This long road to the title had a winding finish, as the heavy rain this week caused a delay that spread Mililani’s quarterfinal victory over Kalani to two days and two far-flung campuses — UH on Wednesday and Campbell on Thursday. The Trojans then had to hold off Campbell, 3-2, earlier Friday afternoon before finally returning back to Rainbow Wahine Stadium for the back end of a rare split day-night doubleheader.

“All season, we faced obstacles, and this tournament (had) obstacles again,” Mililani coach Rose Antonio said. “But we adjusted. This team adjusts well. And this was their best game. We didn’t make any excuses, we just did what we had to do.”

The Trojans took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning after Makayla Pagampao led off with a walk, advanced to second on Kahanu’s groundout, to third after two walks and then scored on a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch. Kamehameha tied it at 1-1 after Nikki Chong drew a leadoff walk, advanced to third on an infield error and scored on Mua Williams’ groundout to short.

In that same at-bat, Williams had ripped a line drive down the third base line that at first was ruled fair, apparently scoring two runs. But the initial call was overturned and the ball was ruled foul, so instead of a 2-1 lead with one out and a runner at second, the Warriors had to eventually settle for a 1-1 tie with a runner stranded at third.

“It was huge, momentum can swing just like that,” Kamehameha coach Mark Lyman said. “In a game like this, with two very good teams, momentum can swing on the smallest little things here or there. And that was huge.”

Mililani broke it open in the fourth, after Kahanu led off with a solo home run over the fence in left center field. The Trojans loaded the bases with one out after Bautista’s single, a walk and an error, and Ui Garcia hit a hard ground single to center to bring in two runs and make it 4-1. After an RBI groundout by Kolbi Kochi, Ori Mailo reached on a double to left, and Pagampao followed with a three-run homer to center field to extend the lead to 8-1.

That was it for Warriors starter Peahi Grilho-Armitage, a freshman who took over as the primary pitcher late in the ILH season after veteran senior Kiani Soller’s innings shrank reportedly due to a shoulder injury. Grilho-Armitage had allowed only one earned run in nine combined innings against Leilehua in the quarterfinals Wednesday and Baldwin in Friday’s semifinal.

“I can’t say enough about Peahi, she came in and took over the reins,” Lyman said. “She became the No. 1 as a freshman, and she put the weight of this team on her shoulders and did well. She pitched a no-hitter in the game before this, against Baldwin, and she came out there (tonight) and battled as hard as she could. She grew up a lot.”

Mililani exploded for six more runs in the fifth, with four coming on Kahanu’s grand slam to left-center following Kochi’s sacrifice fly and Mailo’s RBI single.

“They just put the ball in play and made contact,” Antonio said of the Trojans’ offense. “Discipline at the plate — that’s what you want.”

The 14 runs was more than enough support for Bautista, who did not allow a hit from the beginning of the second inning through two outs in the fifth.

“She’s terrific, I’ll give her a lot of credit,” Lyman said of Bautista. “She threw the whole first game (earlier Friday against Campbell), she came in here and never got tired. She threw well against us, she put it where we couldn’t hit it.”

Bautista, who did not strike out a batter but only walked two, said it was a team effort.

“Basically all of my pitches were working,” Bautista said. “It was me just trusting my defense.”

Antonio was the coach when the Trojans last won the state championship, in 2014.

“It’s our 10-year anniversary, and you know what — it feels great,” Antonio said. “Back to Mililani, the koa head (trophy) goes.”

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