GET­TING TO KNOW …

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - SPORTS - By Nick Abramo nabramo@starad­ver­tiser.com

Coach Mitch Mat­sumoto had an inkling his Kaiser Cougars would be a highly com­pet­i­tive soft­ball team this year, and that thought grew stronger when four of his play­ers com­bined to hit nine home runs in the pre­sea­son.

All four are sis­ters from the Aholelei fam­ily of Palolo, and all are starters — se­nior first base­man Chris­tiana, fresh­man short­stop Ivane and twins Pri­mose, who is a ju­nior pitcher, and Pre­cious, a ju­nior catcher. That’s a lot of Aholeleis on the soft­ball di­a­mond, but they are not the only ones. Two years ago, Le­sieli Aholelei, an older sis­ter now pitch­ing at Ed­monds Com­mu­nity Col­lege in Seat­tle, led the Cougars to the state tour­na­ment as a se­nior. An­other older half-sis­ter, Sisilia Tuip­u­lotu, is a Kalani as­sis­tant coach.

“We thought we were go­ing to have four of them when (Le­sieli) was a se­nior,” Mat­sumoto said dur­ing Thurs­day’s prac­tice. “But Chris­tiana didn’t play that year. Hav­ing four from one fam­ily is rare — and three of them could play any po­si­tion and be a starter. The other one, Ivane, can play any­where but pitcher.”

Ivane — who is the most out­go­ing of the bunch, ac­cord­ing to the other three — tried her hand inside the pitcher’s cir­cle dur­ing the re­cently com­pleted JV sea­son, but didn’t feel com­fort­able there.

On oc­ca­sion, Mat­sumoto uses Chris­tiana as a pitcher, and Pre­cious jokes that she can pitch bet­ter than her twin, Prim­rose, even though she ad­mits it isn’t true. That is part of a friendly ri­valry that be­gan at birth. Pre­cious was des­ig­nated by doc­tors as ‘Baby A’ be­cause it looked as if she would be the first to be born, but ‘Baby B’ Prim­rose didn’t want any part of be­ing in se­cond place and wound up win­ning that race.

“I chal­lenged her in my mom’s stom­ach,” Prim­rose said.

Added Pre­cious: “Prim­rose is re­ally strong and ev­ery­body looks up to her. She’ll tell me what to do and I’ll ac­tu­ally lis­ten to her. She gets ev­ery­body to lis­ten to her.”

Prim­rose re­cently went through a grip change, which has added life and speed to her fast­ball, and has de­vel­oped a nice The Aholelei sis­ters have con­trib­uted to Kaiser’s 3-0 start two years af­ter an­other sis­ter, Le­sieli, helped the Cougars reach the state tour­na­ment. CHRIS­TIANA AHOLELEI

>> Se­nior first base­man >> Ta­lents/hob­bies: art

>> Other in­ter­ests: ar­chi­tec­ture, math

PRIM­ROSE AHOLELEI

>> Ju­nior pitcher >> Ta­lents/hob­bies: singing >> Other in­ter­ests: nurs­ing, math

PRE­CIOUS AHOLELEI

>> Ju­nior catcher

>> Ta­lents/hob­bies: gui­tar, bass gui­tar, ukulele

>> Other in­ter­ests: math, sports/ex­er­cise sci­ence class

IVANE AHOLELEI

>> Fresh­man short­stop

>> Ta­lents, hob­bies: singing, danc­ing

>> Other in­ter­ests: so­cial stud­ies, his­tory, Hawai­ian

his­tory change-up that re­minds Mat­sumoto of Le­sieli’s.

Chris­tiana, the old­est, is es­pe­cially grate­ful to have her sis­ters play­ing with her dur­ing her se­nior sea­son.

“I’m sup­posed to be a good ex­am­ple, but for some rea­son they set the ex­am­ple for me,” she said. “I learn more from them in dif­fer­ent ways, not only in soft­ball but at home. I’ve learned to ap­pre­ci­ate what­ever is given to you. They’re my sis­ters and without them I wouldn’t be do­ing what I’m do­ing.”

As a sopho­more, Chris­tiana had a baby of her own — Sione Paea Aholelei, a boy who will turn 2 in May.

“I’m a proud mom,” she said. “I have plenty of sis­ters and aun­ties to help sup­port him. They help chang­ing di­a­pers, sleep­ing with him, show­er­ing him. I’ve had a lot of help.”

Said Pre­cious: “He’s very adorable and he lis­tens. And he likes to throw the soft­ball around.”

Ivane, who also plays bas­ket­ball for Kaiser, had a great out­ing in her first reg­u­lar-sea­son start. In a tele­vised 8-6 vic­tory over Moanalua, she hit a homer in her first at-bat.

“It was a day be­fore my aun­tie Pesi passed away,” Ivane said. “It was very emo­tional. We wrote her name with a marker on the tape on our wrists. The mo­ment I came to bat, I knew I wanted to do it for her. I made con­tact, threw my hips into it and the ball was gone, al­most over the se­cond fence (at McKin­ley). I went to first, point­ing up to God and I was like, ‘This is for you.’ I couldn’t stop smil­ing.”

Kaiser is off to a 3-0 start in the OIA, and Mat­sumoto ad­mits that he “might be” sand­bag­ging when he says that the Cougars are a mid­dle-of-the-pack East team.

It’s hard to con­cede to be­ing mid­dle of the pack with a ros­ter that in­cludes those four tal­ented Aholelei girls of Ton­gan de­scent, all of whom can hit for power and av­er­age.

“Last year, we barely had enough girls be­cause of in­juries and grade prob­lems,” the coach said. “We limped through the sea­son. This year, we have a good chance of mak­ing it back to the state tour­na­ment.”

As a ninth-grader, Ivane has had plenty of time to ob­serve be­fore mak­ing the var­sity, and she sees that the whole team’s at­ti­tude will go a long way.

“As a fresh­man, I shouldn’t be say­ing it as much, but some­times we’ll get down,” she said. “We try to say, ‘Let’s not give up now.’ That’s the most im­por­tant thing when things aren’t go­ing your way — you can’t just give up.”

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