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Maryknoll rallies to top Punahou, win pitching duel in 11

Apr. 21—Reyni Hiraoka's infield single brought Sheyzhelle Iokia home from third base as No. 3 Maryknoll rallied for a 2-1 win over No. 5 Punahou in 11 innings in the opening round of the ILH softball double-elimination tournament.

Reyni Hiraoka's infield single brought Sheyzhelle Iokia home from third base as No. 3 Maryknoll rallied for a 2-1 win over No. 5 Punahou in 11 innings in the opening round of the ILH softball double-elimination tournament at Sand Island Recreation Area.

The bases were loaded with one out when Punahou third baseman Li 'i Brown reached out and knocked down Hiraoka's line drive. Shortstop Taryn Ho scrambled after the ball and threw home in an attempt to force out Iokia, but the throw pulled catcher Lexi Hinahara off home plate. Iokia's slide knocked the ball out of Hinahara's mitt, ending the playoff battle.

Junior Kasi Cruz went the distance for Maryknoll, allowing one unearned run on four hits. The outfielder-pitcher struck out eight and walked four.

"My screwball was working, " said Cruz, who had never pitched longer than six innings this season.

In club softball, she had never gone further than "eight or nine innings."

"I was getting tired in the last two innings. My coaches said, "Are you all right ?' I kept saying I'm all right, " she said.

It was a heartbreaker for Punahou and ace Paige Brunn, who struck out three and walked one. The right-hander was one strike away from a no-hitter in the bottom of the seventh when Iokia, a freshman, launched a full-count solo home run to left, tying the game at 1.

"I was just thinking left center, just get on base, " Iokia said. "I found my pitch and it went. The (pitch ) was inside high."

It was her fourth home run of the ILH season. Maryknoll had lost to Kamehameha just two days earlier in a tiebreaker game for first place and an automatic state-tournament berth. Punahou had beaten Maryknoll in two of three regular-season games.

"They're no longer freshmen, " Maryknoll coach John Uekawa said of Iokia and the other ninth graders on the team. "They've played a season and they're sophomores at this point. They have faith. They just have to have faith. Punahou played a heck of a game."

Punahou coach Dave Eldredge tipped his cap to the Lady Spartans.

"Paige threw an unbelievable game. One pitch changes everything. Hat's off to Maryknoll for stepping up, " he said. "We've got a tough road ahead of us, but we know what we need to do and we'll get another opportunity to play these guys and Kamehameha."

Punahou took the lead in the top of the fifth inning. Sydney Capello led off with a single to left, then stole second base. The catcher's throw was off target and bounced into center field, allowing Capello to advance to third. Kealoha Cox then doubled to left, scoring Capello for a 1-0 Punahou lead.

With Brunn in no-hitter mode, Punahou appeared to have the win locked up until the bottom of the seventh inning. Iokia launched a solo home run over the left field fence to end the no-hit bid and tie the game at 1.

Briana Sarae followed with a single to left, but Brunn retired Dylan Neves on an infield pop fly to end the seventh.

Making just her fourth pitching appearance of the season, Cruz walked Cox to lead off the top of the 11th inning. After getting the next two batters out, she walked Ho, then got Brown on a grounder to third to end the inning.

It was another stellar performance by Cruz, who went the distance and allowed one unearned run on four hits. The junior struck out five and walked just two. This comes off her five-inning relief performance against Kamehameha on Thursday, when she allowed just one run on two hits.

Tasi Taufahema walked Iokia on four pitches to begin the bottom of the 11th. She then walked Sarae on five pitches. Neves then laid down a bunt single up the third-base line to load the sacks. After Ciana Kamisato grounded into a 5-2 forceout, Hiraoka delivered the big blow.