Freshman stands out among stars as Waianae softball tops Kapolei

Mar. 12—The grassroots pipeline at Waianae includes a freshman phenom.

The grassroots pipeline at Waianae includes a freshman phenom.

While incoming transfers Jerzie Liana and Moani Ioane drew attention for returning to their hometown school, it was cleanup hitter Jerrell "Ori " Mailo who stepped up on Saturday as No. 2 Waianae used a five-run burst in the sixth inning to outlast Kapolei 9-3.

Mailo went 3-for-3 with a walk, scoring three runs as Waianae improved to 3-0 in OIA West play (7-0-1 overall ).

"I was just looking for solid contact, put it in play and help my team out, " Mailo said.

Mailo wasn't alone in clutch performance. Kehaulani Tambaoan-Kaeo started in the circle and batted 3-for-4 with three RBIs against Kapolei's promising sophomore ace, Kandi Malama-Ahlo.

"I feel good about today and our season in general, " Seariders coach Tiani Hensley said. "We have a good squad. They know how to come to the plate when they need to come to the plate. They know they all have a certain job to do and they excel together."

Former Kapolei ace Liana got the win, pitching 32 /3 scoreless innings with four strikeouts and no walks. She was in cruise control, retiring the final 11 batters she faced. Fastball, changeup, screwball—all of it was on point in a show of mastery.

"Coming in, I wasn't as warm after playing shortstop. Once I got warmed up after that first at-bat and that first hit, I was more in the groove, " Liana said. "I still have a lot of friends on their team, and I still have relationships with their coaches. I wanted to come home for senior year and play for my hometown."

Liana and Ioane stirred things up in the West in the offseason, leaving Kapolei to play for the Seariders. For five innings, Kapolei didn't seem to miss the recently departed ex-teammates. Malama-Ahlo's fastball got the better of some of the state's top hitters. She struck out Liana, the leadoff batter, who finished 1-for-4 at the plate. Ioane, a power-hitting utility player and returning All-State outfielder, was 1-for-3.

Waianae was resilient, however, and Mailo's knowledge of Malama-Ahlo's arsenal proved invaluable.

"I played with her for club (Hustlers ), " Mailo noted.

The game went back and forth, with Waianae ahead 4-3 going into the bottom of the sixth inning. Camryn Hensley led off with a single and Liana, hitless to that point, sent a deep fly ball to center. On the run, Kapolei center fielder Maka Flores had the ball in the pocket of her glove as she trampled over the temporary fence, but the ball popped out for a home run. That opened Waianae's lead to 6-3.

Charlee Rose Stevens then reached base when Malama-Ahlo dropped a pop-up, and Ioane walked. Mailo lined a single to right field, scoring Stevens. On the same play, a fielding error by right fielder Jadelyn Gabaylo allowed Mailo to score, and Ioane advanced to third base.

Braiesey Rosa's sacrifice fly to right brought Mailo home, giving the Seariders their final run.

Malama-Ahlo went the distance, allowing seven earned runs with four strikeouts and four walks.

Tambaoan-Kaeo went 31 /3 innings in the circle, allowing two earned runs on three hits. She walked three and hit one batter.

Despite having just three returning starters, Kapolei coach Enson Queypo is very optimistic.

"We're super young for the most part. That's big shoes to fill for a bunch of young girls. In a way, it's a win for us with the way we played against Campbell and Waianae. We will clean up some things. I think the girls know they can stay with these teams, " he said.