Young HPU Soft­ball Team Hosts Dou­ble­header Fri­day In Ka­neohe

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

The af­ter­glow from Hawaii Pa­cific Univer­sity’s 2010 na­tional ti­tle run in soft­ball still burns brightly. Sea War­rior head coach Bryan Naka­sone is re­minded of it ev­ery morn­ing when he logs onto his com­puter.

“I re­ceive about 100 emails a day on av­er­age,” he said of prospec­tive re­cruits. “It’s quite an honor to have them show in­ter­est in us.”

HPU went 50-8 en route to win­ning that ti­tle and has con­tin­ued to thrive un­der Naka­sone, top­ping the 30-win plateau in each sea­son since. Should its up­ward mo­bil­ity con­tinue this spring, it will have to be with a ros­ter of rel­a­tive un­knowns, as HPU has only two se­niors and four re­turn­ing starters.

“We’re cu­ri­ous to see what hap­pens this year,” ad­mit­ted Naka­sone. “I con­sider this a re­build­ing year with nine new play­ers. We also lost a cou­ple of key play­ers to academics, but we’re work­ing through this.

“We’re not proven yet,” he added. “We have to get out there and see what we’re all about.”

Among those ex­pected to have an im­pact this sea­son is Cas­tle High prod­uct Chan­dell Da­cosin, who will play right field in ad­di­tion to do­ing some pitch­ing.

“She was de­ter­mined to make the start­ing lineup, and she’ll have a lot of play­ing time,” Naka­sone said. “She’s one of the hard­est work­ers we have on the team. She con­tin­u­ally tries to work hard.”

HPU will count on re­turn­ing starters to lead the way in 2014, led by sopho­more pitcher Kris­ten Caskey, who is 2014 PacWest Pre­sea­son Pitcher of the Year. Caskey went 12-5 as a fresh­man with an ERA of 1.95 in 188.2 in­nings of work. She ranked fourth in the PacWest in runs al­lowed, giv­ing up just 41.

Caskey was named to PacWest’s All-Pre-Sea­son Team along with re­turnees Sharae Es­pre­cion, Do­rian Acierto and Keila Elderts.

Elderts made both the Na­tional Fast­pitch Coach­ing As­so­ci­a­tion and the Dak­tron­ics All-Re­gion Teams in 2013 af­ter bat­ting .428 with 48 runs, eight dou­bles, five triples, 26 RBI and 21 stolen bases. Acierto, who earned a spot on PacWest’s Sec­ond Team as a third base­man, hit .345 with 26 RBI last spring. Es­pre­cion had a solid fresh­man sea­son in 2013, mean­while, hit­ting .333 in 44 games.

Ju­nior out­fielder Toni Baysa, a Mililani grad­u­ate, also re­turns to the fold.

While this will be one of Naka­sone’s younger teams, he likes the tal­ent he’s as­sem­bled. “They’ve been com­ing around strong. Our team speed would be our strength, and I like their en­thu­si­asm on the field. We’re small in stature, but we have very gutsy play­ers. Hope­fully, we’ll be ready.”

So­lid­i­fy­ing the in­field and im­prov­ing pitch­ing depth have been pri­or­i­ties of late. “We have Caskey, but then we’ll be us­ing some kids who haven’t pitched since high school. We’ll have to res­ur­rect them.”

HPU was to open its sea­son with a twin-bill against Western Wash­ing­ton, but rain can­celed both. Cham­i­nade and BYUH games were set for Satur­day be­fore turn­ing at­ten­tion to this Fri­day’s ex­hi­bi­tion dou­ble­header with Univer­sity of Regina, start­ing at 1 p.m. at Howard Okita Field on the Ka­neohe cam­pus.

A six-day, 10-game road trip fol­lows Feb. 17. “The trip will be very crit­i­cal since they all will be con­fer­ence games.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.