Kialoa softball overcomes hurdles to state games
LIHU‘E — Kialoa, a girls 12 and under softball team, has just one more game remaining in its schedule before they head to the Hawai‘i ASA State Thampionships on O‘ahu.
“They’re the only ones to qualify for the 12 Under division from Kaua‘i,” said coach Francis Takasaki during practice Tuesday. “Last year, they qualified for the 10 Under and were the only ones from Kaua‘i as well.”
Takasaki said the team is 9-0 on the season with its final game against Kalawai coming up Thursday evening at the Koloa ballpark starting at 6 p.m.
“We play night games,” Takasaki said. “Thursday we play the team with all the young Tafiti sisters.”
The Tafiti girls are no stranger to softball, Shawna making a name for herself in Arizona following a strong high school career and sister Deannalynn coming off the Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation as the pitcher for the champion Waimea High School team.
“Softball is a lot bigger than a lot of girls realize,” said Takasaki. “But when they attend a state championship, they get their eyes opened when they see the volume of teams and girls who play.”
For the players on Kialoa, it was more about having fun, the girls giggling and laughing as they lugged the frame of a collapsed batting cage along the street leading to the park.
“We don’t have a field to play on so this is insanity,” Takasaki said. “Three times a week, we haul all the equipment from one of the girls’ homes — lucky thing for us she lives just four houses down — and set up for practice. I haul a little wagon with a generator for the pitching machine from the girl’s house to the park, too.”
Takasaki said there are no available diamonds in the Lihu‘e area because of high school, PONY ball and all the other baseball and soccer programs taking place.
He said the Hanapepe and Waimea teams had no problems finding practice facilities, but that didn’t apply to his team who got together as 10 and Unders.
“We’re doing a lot better than last year,” Takasaki said. “Last year was the first time the girls faced the eventual first and second place winners of the tournament. But they came home and have been practicing a lot and a lot harder, the difference showing in their 9-0 record. We should do better this year because the girls know what they’re going to be facing.”
To help raise funds for the trip to the state championships which will be played May 30 through June 3, the parents have been fundraising by distributing menus containing a variety of goods which they prepare and deliver.
“They have everything from manju to Chinese pretzels on the menu,” Takasaki said. “People fill out their choices and return the menu with their payment and the parents get together and prepare the order, delivering by Fridays.”
Takasaki said he would appreciate help from community businesses as well.
“The girls have already fundraised for the tournament fee cost and are still actively fundraising for their uniforms and costs of traveling off-island,” a team solicitation letter states. “Your support would provide an advocacy for our community’s youth with a potentially life-changing experience.”
The letter states that according to statistics, girls who participate in sports are less likely to drop out of school, more likely to continue on to and graduate college, and more likely to avoid risk-taking and self-destructive behaviors like drugs and early sexual experiences while receiving benefits like confidence and self esteem.
Kialoa team members include Angelie Dacuycuy, Cheyenne Fujii, Justice Funamura-Sasil, Saebre Kaleiohi, Hilarie Marcelino, Haylee Raquel-Garcia, Chailee Sauceda, Tia Rego, Tia Takasaki, Sabrina Telles-Kelekoma and Shailee Telles-Kelekoma. Assistant coaches are Jason Agustin and Rodney Sasil.
Game time is 6 p.m. Thursday at the Koloa field.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.