A Sweet Na­tional Cham­pi­onship Win For Guava Jam Girls

MidWeek Islander (Central Oahu) - - Central Oahu Sports - By JACK DANILEWICZ

Not even the el­e­ments could stop the Guava Jam Soft­ball Club’s 12-and-un­der team on their re­cent trip to Roseville, Calif., scene of the ASA (Am­a­teur Soft­ball As­so­ci­a­tion) Western Na­tional Cham­pi­onship Tour­na­ment.

Al­though they were faced with 102-de­gree tem­per­a­tures and the usual dis­trac­tions that go with long-dis­tance travel, Guava Jam com­pleted an un­de­feated sea­son by win­ning the event, fin­ish­ing 26-0 over­all, in­clud­ing the games the teams played on Oahu. As a re­sult, Guava Jam made his­tory in be­com­ing the first team from Hawaii to ever win an ASA “A Division” Na­tional.

“Ev­ery­thing has to fall into place to win (on a na­tional stage),” said Guava Jam head coach James Mill­wood. “We had great kids, and their par­ents were great. There’s a lot of stress that goes with travel, but the kids didn’t show it.”

Guava Jam went 9-0 on the Cal­i­for­nia trip, high­lighted by an 11-2 win over KG Hit­ters of Con­cord, Calif., in the ti­tle game Aug. 5. Ear­lier that day, Guava Jam reached the cham­pi­onship game by de­feat­ing San Diego Elite 2000 4-1 in a semi-fi­nal game. All to­taled, Guava Jam tal­lied 63 runs (and gave up just 9) in the Na­tional Tour­na­ment.

Guava Jam’s ros­ter, which in­cluded Lei Roylo, Chanelle Makin­ney, Ash­ley Salausa, Dal­las Mill­wood, Casey Tokita, Karli Mu­rakami, Alana Cob­bA­dams, Tarah Aniya, Briana Ryan, Markie Okamoto, Jerae Keli­ikoa and Misha Car­reira, was made up of play­ers mainly from Mililani with a few also hail­ing from Wahi­awa and Ewa Beach.

Al­though they be­gan last Novem­ber with seven new play­ers, the team’s co­he­sive­ness was al­ways ev­i­dent, ac­cord­ing to Mill­wood.

“The chem­istry of the team ( was its strength),” said Mill­wood, whose staff in­cluded coaches Stan Ca­banas and Jeremy Keli­ikoa. “They played well to­gether as a team. Ev­ery­one knew their roles and tried to play the best team soft­ball they could, which is what we preached all sea­son. We al­ways tell them to play soft­ball the way soft­ball should be played.”

Two other fac­tors made Guava Jam’s ac­com­plish­ment all the more vis­i­ble. In Hawaii, their league games were played un­der a 120-minute time limit, so Guava Jam’s games of­ten only lasted four in­nings. Also, Guava Jam only played 12 reg­u­larsea­son games be­tween March and June, whereas the teams they faced in Cal­i­for­nia of­ten played 70 to 80 games in the same span. (The team went 50 to win the Hawaii State Tour­na­ment back in June to ad­vance to the Western Na­tion­als.)

At the Western Na­tion­als, Guava Jam had to play nine games in five days.

“The pitch­ing and hit­ting are bet­ter than what we gen­er­ally see here,” Mill­wood said. “We faced bet­ter pitch­ers, but the girls adapted well and we were able to put the ball in play.”

Guava Jam’s trip lasted eight days in all. Mill­wood ex­pects the team to stay in­tact for an­other run next year.

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