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Kalani blasts Kaimuki, looks to take major step forward

Mar. 10—The Lady Falcons of Kalani went 10-2 in the OIA East, then came up short of qualifying for the softball state championships.

The sting of 2023 hasn't been forgotten.

The Lady Falcons of Kalani went 10-2 in the OIA East, then came up short of qualifying for the softball state championships. Campbell, Waianae, Kapolei, Kaiser, Mililani and Leilehua got a taste of the tourney, where OIA champion Campbell prevailed over Kamehameha for the crown.

Kalani is fully fueled this spring. Southpaw Naomi Stremick hurled two scoreless innings with three strikeouts, and went 2-for-2 at the plate with an RBI double as Kalani overwhelmed Kaimuki 16-3 in six innings at the Lady Bulldogs' field on Saturday.

Kalani coach Iris Stremick emptied her bench by the top of the third inning. Reserve third baseman Kelsie Taketa went 3-for-3 with two RBIs.

"They have really come together to support each other. (Assistant coach ) Dayton (Morinaga ) gives us a motivational quote before every game, " coach Stremick said. "It's all about having the girls grow and become stronger women, not just in softball, but in their whole life. That's what we want to really emphasize to the girls. We rely on everybody to be strong."

Kalani went 17-8 overall last year. This time around, the Falcons had a strong preseason, going 9-4. Two losses were to defending state champion Kamehameha, one was to OIA powerhouse Mililani, and another was to Kamehameha-Maui. Following the win on Saturday, Kalani is 3-1 in East play, with all three wins by TKO. The lone defeat came at Castle, 6-5 last week.

Coming off a wild 18-17 road win over Kahuku and a lopsided loss to Moanalua, Kaimuki couldn't get a consistent rally going against Stremick and two Kalani pitchers until the fifth inning. The Lady Bulldogs kept battling despite the score, a lively and loud dugout providing extra fuel.

"That's what we're trying to do. A lot of them never played before. There's no feeder program. This bunch, we're trying to instill in them, never give up, " Kaimuki coach Chris Awaya said.

Under overcast skies with occasional drizzling, Kalani opened the game with five runs in the top of the first inning. The Falcons put up five more in the second for an early 10-0 lead.

The Lady Bulldogs slipped to 1-3 in league play. They will host Roosevelt on Tuesday and Castle on Saturday, fighting for a playoff berth in OIA Division I.

Kalani has just one game next week, at Kaiser on Friday.