Kadena wins third title in five seasons
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan – One of coach Kelli Wilson’s calculated gambles in trying to rebuild Kadena’s softball team was inserting freshman Brianna Wilson into the lineup at midseason, hoping to give the Panthers a jolt offensively.
The move paid off handsomely, no more so than on Wednesday, when she had three hits and drove in three runs to power the Panthers back to the Far East High School Girls Division I Softball Tournament title.
“She’s a great kid, she works very hard,” Kelli Wilson said after the Panthers downed Guam 8-1 in Wednesday’s final, winning their third Division I title since 2010. Kadena’s played for the title every year.
“She hasn’t had a lot of experience, but I can’t wait to see her in a couple more years. She’s a great kid and we’re excited to have her. She makes good contact. She’s not scared of anything.”
The title game was the only one played Wednesday, when rain fell much of the day and rendered the fields at Ranger Complex on Naval Air Facility Atsugi unplayable. Organizers then moved both the D-I and D-II finals to Yokosuka’s turfed Berkey Field. ASIJ, a first-year program, was awarded third place in the shortened schedule.
Kadena wasted no time going ahead with a first-inning unearned run. Then Wilson went to work, leading off the second with an inside-the-park home run to deep right-center field. Tori Sego’s RBI single made it 3-0. Wilson’s RBI single and another unearned run made it 5-0 in the third.
Guam answered against Kadena right-hander Peyton Lettkeman, as Kianni Martinez belted an inside-the-park solo homer to right field. But that was all it could manage against Lettkeman, who allowed three hits and struck out six.
Lettkeman drove in a run with a fielder’s choice groundout in the fifth, then Wilson capped the scoring with an infield RBI single following another unearned run; Guam committed six errors.
“It feels great,” Kelli Wilson said of bringing the banner back to Okinawa, following a heartbreaking loss in last year’s final. “We think about this year alone and coming back, doing our thing and putting Kadena back up there.”