Down 11-7 in the bottom of the seventh and final inning, it did not look good for the lady Farmers in the championship game Saturday against Lanai for the Maui Interscholastic League title.
But with Waipuna Paleka leading off, there was still reason for cautious optimism. The Molokai junior had already knocked a home run over the left centerfield fence in the third inning to give the Farmers a 4-2 lead. Puna hit a double down the left field line and the rally had begun.
Freshman Brooke Kelihoomalu followed with a walk and then Kelsie Tanabe hit a single to load the bases with no outs. As the dugout chatter increased, the Lanai pitcher Claire Vilacas appeared to get rattled, giving up two walks to the chant “We like free bases!”
The Farmers batted through the order to tie the game at 11-11. With the bases loaded and two outs, Paleka promptly collected her second hit of the inning and third of the game to score Brandi Domingo-Key for the winning run in the 12-11 victory.
Molokai will go the state championship tournament as the top seed out of the MIL, finishing the season with a 9-3 record. Lanai also goes to the state tournament as the second MIL seed. Hana defeated Seabury Hall 11-1 in the third-place game to earn the chance to play Kauai for the final spot at the state tournament.
In the first MIL championship softball tournament ever held on Molokai, the Farmers first had to break a four-way tie for first place on Thursday. With Molokai, Lanai, Hana and Seabury entering the tournament with identical 5-3 records, the Farmers had to defeat Seabury and Lanai to earn the number-one seed. Molokai had to come from behind on Thursday to defeat Lanai 15-14. On Friday, Molokai defeated Seabury again, 16-3, after Seabury beat St. Anthony earlier in the day.