HANAPEPE — The Rookies, earning the championship banner from the Kaua‘i Senior Softball League earlier in the year, made senior softball history on the final day of the 45th Hawai‘i State Senior Softball Tournament by becoming the first known Kaua‘i team to earn the state title in the A division at Hanapepe Stadium.
Playing before avid and enthusiastic team supporters and other participating teams in the tournament, the Rookies blasted off from the second inning to knock off the three-season title holder Aikane in a 23-15 slugfest.
“We were just lucky,” said Alan Horikawa, the Rookies coach. “Aikane is a tough team with three consecutive state titles under its belt. We were just lucky.”
Rookies’ pitcher Solomon Wong picked up the win for the Kaumakani-based team by allowing just 19 Aikane hits towards the final 15 runs, eight runs crossing in the open, or seventh inning.
Gerald Aqui went 4-for-5 in the Rookies’ batters box, scoring three times, to lead the lumberyard for the Kaumakani boys, who piled up 26 hits toward their final 23 runs. Wong helped himself on the mound to finish with a trio of singles, and scored once.
Aaron Uyeda, ending 4-for-5 in the box, finished with a double and three singles while scoring once in the Rookies’ win. Rookies’ catcher Teddy Perreira was 3-for-5, churning up a double and two singles and scoring twice.
The Rookies started the fuse on the firecracker by marking four runs on five hits in the opening frame. That was answered by Aikane, who put up three runs on four hits before the Rookies broke away in the second inning with five runs on four hits and holding Aikane to an empty frame.
Entering the home half of the open inning, the Rookies held a 23-7 lead over the three-time champions as the Kaumakani defense kept Aikane to three scoreless innings and allowed just one run in the fifth frame.
But the power ebbed in the final frame as Aikane roared back with an 8-1 inning behind six hits and a number of Rookie miscues for the final math.
The Rookies’ win was the sole medal earned by the host Kaua‘i squads.
Two other teams, the Aloha Kia Lihu‘e A’s and Solid Steel, finished in third place in the B and C divisions, respectively.
The Aloha Kia Lihu‘e A’s and ‘Ohana Rebels were both contenders in B Division play, but were victimized in the semifinals when the Honomu Rockets edged past Lihu‘e A’s, 10-8, and Kona Gold, the eventual division winners, soared to a 17-5 win over ‘Ohana Rebels.
Solid Steel, finishing pool play with a 1-2 record, bounced back in the single-elimination round to eliminate the Islanders, 14-8, before falling to the Punatics, 20-9 in the semifinals.
Kolohe, a team from Maui, relinquished the Waiakea Senior for third place in D Division with a 7-6 edge before claiming the division title by nudging Zen from O‘ahu, 11-10 in the title match at ‘Ele‘ele Park.
Wahine Kane, another squad from Maui, was slotted in third place of the E Division at Wally Sonoda Park in Kaumakani after being edged out by Xpress, 10-9. That set up the all-O‘ahu showdown between Waipio, which claimed the division with a 17-3 showing over Xpress.
Source: The Garden Island