Nanakuli Comes from Behind, Takes Down Aiea for OIA Division II Softball Crown


HONOLULU — Unbeaten Nanakuli found themselves in an unusual spot taking on Aiea (12-2) in Saturday’s OIA Division II softball championship.

For just the second time all season long, the Nanakuli Golden Hawks (14-0) found themselves trailing in a softball game.

This first time was against this same Aiea Na Alii team back on March 23, a 7-6 comeback win for the Golden Hawks to hand Na Alii the lone loss on the team’s record. After Aiea jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the top of the third inning, Nanakuli experienced déjà vu.

The top two teams from the regular season in OIA Division II play, Nanakuli and Aiea entered the evening with a combined record of 23-1 and scoring 194 runs in their games since the March 23 matchup.

After trading zeroes on the scoreboard for the first two innings, it looked like Aiea would take control of the game with a five-run 3rd inning powered by grand slam from slugger Trinity Caporus-Santos, her 7th of the season. 

Despite facing the team’s biggest deficit of the season, Nanakuli remained calm and trusted in their experiences to get to this moment in the first place.

A one-out triple followed by an Aiea error began the Golden Hawks’ championship game ascent from peril, giving Nanakuli its first run with just one out.

Nanakuli pitcher Melody Baligad helped her cause with an RBI double, a deep drive off the top of the centerfield wall and somehow staying in the park to cut it to 5-2. 

An RBI single by Kalia Cordeiro brought two more runs across, capping the four-run bottom of the 3rd for the Golden Hawks and snatching the momentum right back from Aiea.

Nanakuli tied the game, 5-5, in the bottom of the 4th with a pair of two-out doubles before taking a two-run lead in the 5th on an Ariel Barozzo-Carrillo RBI single to center.

The Golden Hawks added a pair of insurance runs in the 6th, using an RBI triple followed by an RBI single to go up 9-5 on Aiea as Na Alii were down to their final three outs. 

There would be no more theatrics though, as the comeback had already happened against Aiea instead of for Na Alii.

Baligad closed out her nice championship game performance by sitting down Aiea in order in the top of the 7th to clinch the first league title for the Golden Hawks since 2016. 

Nanakuli’s left-handed pitcher earned the win after throwing seven innings, walking five batters, allowing five runs that all came in the third inning, striking out four Aiea batters in total.

Aiea pitcher Taja Souza was tagged with the loss after going 5.1 innings, giving up nine runs (six earned) on 11 hits and striking out four in Na Alii’s second loss of the season, both against Nanakuli and in total.