Aiea Preps For State Softball Tourney
seven years there has been a Division II, so all are hoping to break the trend. Na Ali‘i’s own hopes depend on offensive output and the balanced pitching of Kelsie Takeuchi and Joe-Ann Rapoza.
“I’d say our hitting has been pretty consistent. Some of the other players of ours who hadn’t been consistent have begun to put the ball in play. We’re coming along good.”
Koide acknowledged a quick lead in a game can be a big lift at the state tournament, where one-run decisions are common.“Mentally, it really helps (to play from ahead). When you get a few runs, it takes a lot of pressure off of the defense. It’s a small weight off of your shoulders.”
Aiea also has benefited in senior leadership by way of short top Kori Nishi and first baseman Temukisa Lautalo.
“Leadership is the main part of their contribution,” Koide said. “Temu’s a very good leader. The other girls look up to her. She and Kori both work hard.
“Kori’s instincts as far as knowing where to throw are really good. As a leader, she’s vital as far as helping us keep our composure.”
Koide calls Takeuchi and second baseman Macy Garon key components to Aiea’s offensive improvement. “Those two have been really consistent as far as putting the ball into play.”
Aiea was to learn of its pairing and first-round opponent late Sunday. The matchups will influence which pitcher Koide plans to start on Tuesday, although she expects both Takeuchi and Rapoza to play. If Aiea gets by its firstround opponent, as last year, it will play four games in four days through Friday.
“It will be a game-day decision,” Koide explained.“If we’re playing every day, then more than likely we’ll have a different pitcher every day.”
With their last OIA Tournament game played May 1, Aiea will have had a 10-day layoff by the time of their first-round game.
It was business as usual in the interim. “We practiced every day up until now and plan to practice every day (until Tuesday),” Koide said. “We’re just focusing in on fixing the small areas we need to work on, like some of our defense and the basics.”
The first two rounds of the DII state softball championships will be played at Central Oahu Regional Park, with Thursday’s semifinal games and Friday’s championship game scheduled for Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium on the UH-Manoa campus.