The Pine Lasses were all smiles on the evening of May 3, as they caught the ferry home from Maui after clinching the MIL Division II championship for the first time in three years. After a long weekend playing softball, the Pine Lasses went head to head with last year’s titleholders, the Molokai Farmers, to decide the tournament.
Led by head coach Robbie Sanches and pitchers Claire Vila and Kayci Kaopuiki-Galiza, the team played through grueling matches on Friday and Saturday. In the end, the girls showed true grit and determination as they came from behind to secure their position in the overall title game Sunday.
“We had a lot of obstacles to overcome this year, so to bring home the win is a very special thing for us,” said Sanches. “In the end I feel very proud of these girls for what they have accomplished. Molokai is a very tough team to beat. Our girls really proved to me that they could play as one, as a team.”
After a night spent in the Baldwin wrestling room, the Pine Lasses faced off against the Farmers in a razor-thin match. With the score tied in the seventh inning, it all came down to junior Kahea Ganer-Eskaran at bat. As the crowd held its breath, she approached the plate and smacked a single to left field, knocking in the go-ahead run to win the championship.
Win dedicated in memory of Coach Duane
Wearing their gold medals with pride, the Pine Lasses pointed to the sky to pay tribute to their late assistant coach Duane Ozoa, a beloved member of the coaching staff. Also in memory of Duane, the team wore uniforms adorned with a blue “D.”
“We’ve decided to dedicate this season to Duane, who coached many of these girls from way back, when they played Little League baseball, all the way through high school,” said Sanches.
Performance to be proud of at state championships
On May 12, the Pine Lasses headed to Oahu to face tough competition in the girls softball state championships. A decisive 14–8 victory against Waialua on Tuesday took them all the way to the quarterfinals.
“The competition at states is fierce, so I’m proud of our girls for having a strong showing and playing with a lot of heart,” said Sanches. “With the hard work and determination they’ve shown this season, I think we have a good chance of coming back next year.”