Kauai pitcher Nii named POY

The 2015-16 Kauai Interscholastic Federation softball all stars were announced Tuesday.

Seven all stars on the list represent this year’s KIF champions — Kauai High School.

“I think overall, it was a hard-fought season on both ends — for both us and Waimea. I’m super proud of my girls,” said Kauai High softball head coach Elena Kealoha in a phone interview Tuesday.

The list of standout student-athletes were voted for by the KIF coaches.

The seven Red Raider all stars, including Kealoha who was named Coach of the Year, are: senior pitcher Kailee Nii, senior catcher Tammie Yoshimori, senior shortstop Aleigha Scovel, senior outfielder Caley Caires, freshman outfielder Taira Abreu and sophomore infielder Kyra Hirokane.

“Most of them are seniors. They’ve been working really hard all these years, and they deserve it,” Kealoha said. “And my other two is a freshman and a sophomore. So, they’re definitely going to make their spot in the KIF.”

On top of being named the league’s best pitcher, Nii was also recognized as the league’s Player of the Year.

“I was very surprised. I wasn’t expecting it. I try not to focus on myself when I’m playing. I try to focus on the team. So when I found out I was Player of the Year, it came as a shock,” Nii said about the accolade.

Nii added about the team winning KIF: “This is way better than what I was expecting. We worked so hard. To come so close twice, I’m glad that our team was able to finally clinch a title this year and take it home for Kauai High. Especially because we haven’t won the KIF title in like seven years. It’s been a while. So, I’m glad we got to bring it home for our school.”

Keahola said she’s watched Nii overcome adversity during her sophomore year and is happy her hurler is receiving such recognition.

“Kailee has come such a long way. When I started coaching at Kauai High, two or three years ago, she had a hurt shoulder. She was on the verge of surgery,” Kealoha said. “There was all kinds of, ‘If she could play or not’ because of her hurt shoulder. She didn’t have surgery. She rebuilt all the muscles.

“She’s at 110 percent right now. She’s working really, really hard,” Kealoha continued. “She’s not just good on the field. She’s a good person all-around. She’s does really good in school. She has a really good attitude. She’s just a good person … She is a pretty remarkable young lady.”

Kauai High had a 7-2 overall KIF record, going 2-1 in the second round. The Red Raiders will play in the DataHouse Softball State Championships – Division II state tournament, which begins May 11 on Oahu.

“It was a goal that we set for ourselves. Waimea has dominated softball for many, many years. Kauai High would still go to states, but its was the second berth. So, it was a harder fight to get to the top,” Kealoha said. “It’s still going to be a hard fight at states, but we’re up for the challenge and we’re going to do what we need to do to represent our island.”

KIF runner-up Waimea has four players on this years list: senior first baseman Brandy Domingo, sophomore second baseman Starlynn Ripley, senior third baseman Alyssa Miyamoto and sophomore outfielder Kiana Motooka.

“I think this is my first time — for anything,” Domingo said of being named an all star. “It means a lot to me. I wanted my senior year to be good. I guess I did good enough.”

Waimea softball head coach Chico Lazaro, who just completed his first year at the helm of the Menehune program, said the season started shaky but things started to come together as the season progressed. The Menehune were 3-4 overall in the KIF and was 1-2 in the second round.

“My season, it started off pretty rough. But the girls stuck all stuck together and wanted to play softball,” Lazaro said. “We as coaches, we stuck it out, too. After everything we went through, I think they had a pretty successful season.”

Lazaro added about his all stars: “For some of them, they’ve played for four years. … I think they had the Menehune spirit of playing together — trying their best. Whatever was presented to them, they tried to do their best.”

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