OIA Softball
Nanakuli wins third straight White title with win over ‘Aiea


Sat, Apr 26, 2014 @ [ 5:00 pm ]

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W: Chyanne Koko

NANA: Precious Paulo-Meyers 2-3 2 runs 2 rbi dbl trp; Chyanne Koko 7.0 IP 4 ER 3 K
AIEA: Raisa Strom-Okimoto 2-4 2 runs rbi HR / 4.6 IP 9 ER 3 K

WAIPIO – Three up, three down. No, not batters. Championships.

A crowd of about 400 at the Patsy T. Mink Central Oahu Regional Park were on hand to witness the Nanakuli Golden Hawks (15-0) claim their third straight Oahu Interscholastic White Division title with a 10-5 victory over ‘Aiea (13-2) Saturday night. 

“It feels great,” said Nanakuli coach Ricky Gusman. “The kids worked hard. Even though we didn’t have too much of a softball field to practice on, their mentality, their game preparation, their mind, it kept them sharp. They never took (anything) for granted.

“We worked hard everyday, regardless if we had a field to practice on. The kids know all about working hard. Its just the commitment. To win three in a row, that’s not the easiest thing to do. Three-peat, that’s surreal right now. These girls wanted it and they knew they had the capabilities to do it.”

Nanakuli senior pitcher Chyanne Koko (10-0) pitched a complete game with three strikeouts, and also had the go-ahead double in the third inning to lead the Golden Hawks. Koko was also the winning pitcher in the Golden Hawks championship victories against Kalaheo (2012) and Kaiser (2013).

“It feels great,” Koko said on the win. “Even though we’ve been here before, we wasn’t used to it. It still felt like our first time playing here so it was a good experience.”

Nanakuli’s third title in a row can be attributed to its offensive explosion in the bottom of the fifth, garnering seven runs to put the game out of reach for Na Ali’i. The Golden Hawks’ strong showing in the fifth was a far cry from their first meeting with 'Aiea where they won, 3-1. 

“I was waiting for that to happen,” said Gusman. “It didn’t happen the first time we played ‘Aiea. I was just waiting for that one inning where we go off.”

Spearheading the Golden Hawks’ fifth inning effort with homers were Ashley Van Gieson and Alexix Paulo-Meyers. Gieson’s homer drove in two while Paulo-Meyers’ homer drove in three. 

“The home runs woke everybody up and then we all started hitting,” said Koko. 

Still, despite its penchant for success, Nanakuli wasn’t going to win the title by just showing up. ‘Aiea did everything it can to put pressure on the reigning champions as they got extra runners on base thanks to five Golden Hawk errors. 

“We were nervous because of the pressure and the (cameras),” said Koko.

In fact, ‘Aiea took the first lead of the game with a homer from leadoff hitter Raisa Strom-Okimoto to open the first inning. Na Ali’i extended their lead to two thanks to an error on Nanakuli right fielder Charallen Mahoe. Riley Tagawa’s shot to right field should have ended the inning; instead, it allowed courtesy runner Kaylie Matsunami to come home safely.

‘Aiea’s early lead would just Nanakuli’s third title much more sweeter. Like any champion, the Golden Hawks were up for the challenge.

“I told them listen, they came to play, we need to answer,” Gusman said, retelling his message to his girls when they faced an early deficit. “We need to let them know that we are going to battle. That’s what champions do. You need to go through adversities. (One) of the signs of a great team is (that) they can come back.”

Nanakuli got on the board in the bottom of the first with a Precious Paulo-Meyers triple that brought home Kaila Burnett for a score. The Golden Hawks later added two more runs on Koko’s double that drove in Emma Kawaiaea and Paulo-Meyers, giving Nanakuli the lead for good. 

“The girls are resilient,” said Gusman. “They know how to win and they showed it tonight.”

The Golden Hawks held a 3-2 lead before their offensive flurry in the fifth inning that put the game away for good. ‘Aiea came back to rally for three runs in the final two innings, but the damage was too great to overcome and Nanakuli walked away with it’s third league title in school history. 

Both teams will be participants in the 2014 DataHouse Division II Softball Championships that gets underway on Tuesday, May 6. Nanakuli, the 2013 Division II state champions, will receive a first round bye in the 12-team tournament.

Reach Michael Lasquero at [email protected].

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