The Maryknoll Spartans left nothing to chance this time.
Maryknoll routed ‘Iolani, 11-1, in five innings to capture the Interscholastic League of Honolulu softball championship on Wednesday night at Tiger Softball Stadium.
Ua Nakoa-Chung, a junior, pitched a three-hitter with one strikeout, two walks and one hit batter. It was a big turnaround from the most recent regular-season matchup between the teams, a wild come-from-behind 18-17 win by ‘Iolani. The Raiders rallied from a 17-10 deficit in that battle.
This time Nakoa-Chung seemed unhittable. Meanwhile, her teammates scored three runs in the first inning, two in the third, and then put the game away with six runs in the fifth to trigger the 10-run mercy rule.
“This is just great. It was a combination of not only hitting, but we played really good defense and had really good pitching. When you have those three, it’s a winning combination,” Maryknoll coach John Uekawa said. “I would consider Ua one of the top three pitchers in the state. Every pitcher, including those in the big leagues, has their bad days and good days, and this was a great day for her.”
Maryknoll, the top seed in the single-elimination tournament, finished 10-2. The Spartans defeated Punahou, 21-1, in the semifinal round. ‘Iolani rallied past Kamehameha in the other semi.
“The drive and passion we had for this game was overwhelming. We took other games in stride. This game, we wanted badly. We had to calm them down,” Uekawa said. “It was good.”
The Raiders’ late-season run was phenomenal.
“Maryknoll is expected to win. They’ve got a lot of talent. We’re the underdogs,” Raiders coach Benny Agbayani said. “I’m super proud of our girls, balancing school and coming to practice. Maryknoll, they’re pretty good. I tip my cap to them. We just didn’t execute a lot of the things we needed to do.”
The Spartans got immediate action in the bottom of the first with a leadoff double by Carys Murakami and a walk from Mahalo Akaka. After Nellie Marinas walked to load the bases, shortstop Ailana Agbayani replaced Allie Capello in the pitcher’s circle for ‘Iolani.
Liliana Thomas walked to force in Murakami from third base. Jenna Sniffen, a freshman third baseman, then brought Akaka home with a sacrifice fly to center for a 2-0 lead. After Daylee Williams was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Nakoa-Chung struck out. Logan Gaspar then walked to force Marinas home from third for a three-run Maryknoll lead.
Down 3-1, the Raiders got a spark in the top of the third when Agbayani singled to center with one out. Capello then sent a deep drive near the right-field corner, but Bréli Agbayani-Shibao raced to the ball for the catch and rifled it to first base to double off Agbayani.
“That turned the game,” Uekawa said.
In the bottom of the third, Maryknoll plated two more runs for a 5-1 cushion.
In the bottom of the fifth, Williams was hit by a pitch for a second time and Nakoa-Chung brought her home with a double to center. Gaspar then singled and Aloha Akaka’s sacrifice fly brought in the Spartans’ second run of the inning for a 7-1 lead.
After Murakami singled to left, Mahalo Akaka launched a three-run homer to left, increasing the margin to nine runs.
Marinas reached base on an infield error and came home moments later on a line-drive single to left by Nakoa Chung to end the game.
Ua Nakoa-Chungs RBI single seals it, Maryknoll wins 11-1, 10-run mercy rule, bot 5th, for the ILH softball title.@StarAdvertiser @HawaiiPrepWorld @MaryknollSports @Iolani_Raiders pic.twitter.com/owKKeuSmLB
— Paul Honda (@PupulePaul) May 13, 2021
Mahalo Akakas 3-run HR boosts Maryknolls lead to 10-1, bot 5th. @StarAdvertiser @HawaiiPrepWorld @MaryknollSports @Iolani_Raiders pic.twitter.com/yT8YA8iJUB
— Paul Honda (@PupulePaul) May 13, 2021
‘Iolani (8-3) 010 00 — 1 3 1
Maryknoll (10-2) 302 06 — 11 11 0
Allie Capello, Ailana Agbayani (1) and Keely Kai. Ua Nakoa-Chung and Liliana Thomas. W—Nakoa-Chung. L—Capello.
Leading hitters—‘Iolani: Agbayani 1-2, walk; Kaylee Matsuda 1-2, run, SB; Milla Fukuda 1-1, double, RBI, walk. Maryknoll: Carys Murakami 2-4, double, 2 runs; Mahalo Akaka 2-3, HR, 3 RBIs, 2 runs, walk; Nakoa-Chung 2-4, double, 3 RBIs, run; Logan Gaspar 2-2, walk, RBI, run.
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