Softball All-State: Coaches’ comments on 1st Team

Leilehua celebrates after scoring the winning run against the Punahou Buffanblu during the sixth inning of the 2018 HHSAA Division I championship softball game on Friday, May 11, 2018 at Wahine Softball Stadium in Manoa. Leilehua won 14-4 to claim the 2018 Division I softball title. Jamm Aquino/jaquino@staradvertiser.com

Here are coaches’ comments on the Star-Advertiser Softball All-State first-team selections of 2018.

P Kamryn Kamakaiwi, Leilehua, Sr.
Pitcher of the Year
• 8-2, 1.56 ERA, 58.1 IP, 50 SO, 26 BB, won 2 games at the state tourney
• Also hit .375, 5 HR, 15 runs, 13 RBIs, .483 OBP, .771 SLG

Kamehameha coach James Millwood: “Her being a lefty pitcher and having the pitch come from a different angle made it hard for batters. She has very good spin on her ball and can pitch a back door curve away from a righty and in to a lefty.  Her regular curve had a big bite on it and made it very difficult for lefty batters and she could come in on the hands of the righty batters with it. She was very good at getting ahead of batters and keeping them off balance and guessing at what she would throw next. Also a very good bat when hitting with lots of power.  Sammie Ofoia is one of the most feared hitters in the state. The power that she hits with is amazing. She could change the game with one swing of her bat. Very athletic and quick. She played third and first base and has a great glove. ILH pitchers and coaches are very happy that she is graduating.”

St. Francis coach Randy Langsi: “Kamryn’s got pretty good stuff, very competitive, very smart pitcher, also has a pretty good bat.”

Punahou coach Dave “Boy” Eldredge: “I voted for Kamryn to be the Pitcher of the Year because she was the ace of the State Championship team and her statistics with an ERA under 2.00 was outstanding. I felt she deserved the honor. When we faced her, she reminded me of two other lefties in Chloe Sales (Campbell), and Aleia Agbayani (‘Iolani). They all had good velocity and were bulldog types. They competed and came after you. As a team though, we had success against these pitchers. We hit Sales hard in the State semi-finals, and aside from our last game against Aleia, We did well against her too. After the first inning in the State finals, I felt that we were going to get to Kamakaiwi, but her injury took her out of the game and brought in Kaena Nistal in her place. We struggled a few times this year with pitchers with a good riser, so she was a tougher pitcher for us to face. I think Kamryn deserves the honor, but the comments you’re looking for in her behalf I will probably come from another coach.”

Roosevelt coach Kris Fujii-Dias: “We didn’t have a chance to face her in the OIA’s, but of what I saw with Kamryn’s pitching performance in the State tournament, she was very effective with hitting her spots. She worked the inside/outside corners well and didn’t make any mistake pitches with the big hitters. In big games that count, when a pitcher can execute like how she did, it really gives the team the confidence as they’ll know their pitcher is ready to go.”

Maryknoll coach John Uekawa: “Having her at Maryknoll for two years was a pleasure. A very athletic and talented player.”

Coach Wendell Au: “Oh man, it’s her moxie. I’ve been approached about Kaena. But through the year, I would definitely say what Kamryn has done for us is the key. Her ability to move the ball and keep people off balance, that’s what kept us in the games for awhile. The early setbacks, that’s a team thing, not so much on one person’s shoulders. She would step up not only as a pitcher, but as a hitter, too. I couldn’t keep her bat out of the lineup, so I had her in right field. At states, I rested her, but if I needed her stick, I’d put her at DH. States, it’s a totally different game plan. You have to leave it all on the line. She’s signed at Shoreline CC, but she’s making a move to D-II, and it’s because of her impressive work this year.”

P Sierrah Kupihea, St. Francis, Jr.
• 11-3, 1 Sv, 3.33 ERA, 82 IP, 67 SO, 37 BB
• Won all three games at the state tourney as the Saints claimed their first title

Coach Langsi: “Sierrah is definitely one of the hardest working and smartest players in the game. Constantly tries to better herself each and everyday and very competitive. Works hard on her pitches.”

P Jaeda Cabunoc, Roosevelt, Sr.
• 12-3, 2.13 ERA, 82 IP, 44 SO, 39 BB

Coach Fujii-Dias: “Jaeda really worked on getting ahead in the count as it allowed her to make batters swing at pitches she wanted them to swing at. Because of this she was able to set the tempo and showed that she was in control of the game. She also focused on mixing her speeds as it kept batters honest in the box. On days her team or her struggled, she always kept her composure on the field and never gave up.  This really shows how much she has matured this past year.”

C Kaena Keliinoi, St. Francis, Jr.
• .371 BA, 8 HR, 29 RBIs, 21 runs, .391 OBP, .823 SLG, Golden Glove
• Batted .286 (4-14) with 5 RBIs and 4 runs at the D-II state tourney

Coach Langsi: “Kaena is one of the smartest players that has come through the Saints program, a student of the game, calls her own pitches and manages the game behind the plate. She also has a great bat.”

IF (1B) Dallas Millwood, Kamehameha, Sr.
• .633 BA, 6 HR, 19 RBIs, 23 runs, .766 OBP, 1.367 SLG, Golden Glove

Coach Millwood: “Dallas is the most competitive and vocal player that I have ever been around. Opposing coaches always tell me that it seems like she has been playing high school ball forever. Dallas was feared as a batter also and it showed with the respect that she was given by opposing teams. She was walked 20 times (14) of those intentional. Also hit by pitch 6 times but still was able to hit .645 during the regular season. Very intense player on the field but the nicest off.

IF (SS) SS D’Asha Saiki, Punahou, Jr.
• .585 BA, 7 HR, 27 RBIs, 29 runs, .690 OBP, 1.151 SLG
• Batted .533 (8-15) at the state tourney, 6 runs, 2 RBIs

Coach Eldredge: “In my opinion, D’Asha Saiki was the best player in the State of Hawaii. According to the statistics on ScoringLive, D’Asha was in the top four in the state in six offensive categories: doubles (first), hits (second), home runs (third), runs (third), batting average (fourth), and RBIs (fourth). She was the only player in the top four in all the Triple Crown categories (BA, HR, RBI).

“She approached every at bat like a professional. She could hit for power to both sides of the field. Offensively, she was a constant. We knew every game what we were going to get from her. Aside from that, she was an anchor for us on defense. Whether playing shortstop or third base, D’Asha was solid and dependable. The season she put together was incredible, and she allowed us to play for championships. I realize there’s a value in winning a state title, but when comparing D’Asha’s numbers to the result of one game, there’s no question that an individual’s season achievements carry more weight than one team win or loss. D’Asha has a verbal commitment to play at Cal-Berkeley, and I’m sure that when the time comes, she’ll continue her success in the Pac-12. I have no reservation saying D’Asha was the best in the state.”

IF (3B) Sammie Ofoia, St. Francis, Sr.
Position Player of the Year
• .605 BA, 12 HR, 23 RBIs, 21 runs, .681 OBP, 1.579 SLG
• Batted .636 (7-11), 5 HRs, 8 RBIs, 7 runs at the D-II state tourney

Coach Langsi: “She is hard-working, and it was the case more so this year, she really applied her self this year, studied the game, and can change a game with one swing.”

Coach Fujii-Dias: “Again, we didn’t have a chance to face St. Francis this year, but I’ve heard about Sammie. I was able to watch her play in the Goodwill games this past weekend and just her presence in the batter’s box says it all. She definitely has power and is a batter that can change the game in just one swing.”

Coach Au: “I’m close with the team, so we had some scrimmages to get ready for states. Nobody knew about it. I didn’t want it to get attention. They came out to Kaala and we went hard for 3 or 4 innings, then we played everyone.

“Sammie deserves everything she’s getting. Her size, you can’t use that as a judgement. She can hit the ball, she has a good glove, and she can really run. She really hits the ball hard, probably harder than most. Hat’s off to St. Francis. They practically won the ILH legitimately despite being D-II. Sammie has a great personality and outlook on things, so I think that keeps her real level-headed.”

Coach Eldredge: “The ILH had a number of quality hitters, but the three most feared had to be D’Asha Saiki, Dallas Millwood, and Sammie Ofoia. They all combined extremely high batting averages (.600), with power. Mari Foster of Roosevelt would be another to join this group of players. Gianna Araki (Leilehua) and Bailey Akimseu (Punahou) were also among the strongest hitters in the state, but there’s quite a difference between a .400 hitter and a .600 hitter. These hitters that hit close to .600 were absolutely amazing. We’re talking about hitters that with every at bat, have a better chance of getting a hit than getting out. When you add the amount of walks they get due to the respect they receive, we’re talking about hitters that will get on base 80 percent of the time. Opponents can’t get these girls out.

“Sammie Ofoia is one of these great hitters. No matter what you throw her, she’s a tough out. In, out, up down, it didn’t matter where we pitched her. She hit a HR off of a good change up, and hit another HR off of a good fastball. She’s an extremely tough hitter to beat.”

Coach Uekawa: “Her stats speak for themselves. A hitter that most ILH teams work around. If you look at St. Francis losses she did not play any of them. She is a born leader that other players follow.”

IF (3B) Brandi Leong, Leilehua, Sr.
• .491 BA, 2 HR, 20 runs, 15 RBIs, .573 OBP, .649 SLG, 3 SB, Golden Glove
• Batted .538 (7-13) at the state tourney, 7 runs, 4 RBIs

Coach Au: “All-around great athlete, great person, great student. She stepped up to play third base for us. Pomai Nahulu got hurt in the third game of the season. She took a ball to the face and broke her nose against Mililani. She was out for six weeks. Brandi never played third and stepped up, filled that position. She was our shortstop since freshman year, and it just so happened. As a coach, you have to figure out what works out best for our team. We had a freshman playing shortstop, and she and Brandi together covered a bunch of ground. She definitely deserves every accolade that comes her way. She’s going to HPU.”

U/DP Gianna Araki, Leilehua, So.
• .467 BA, 7 HR, 23 RBIs, 24 runs, .619 OBP, 1.022 SLG
• Batted .429 (3-7) in the state tourney, 7 runs, 6 RBIs including a grand slam in the final

Coach Au: “I knew Gigi since, well, she was little, 10 years old or so. She’s always had the tools to be that person. Put it all together with the work she’s put in with club ball and her dad, she turned into a stud. She’s going to continue to grow. The potential is tremendous. It’s going to be really exciting. She’s going to be up in the mainland playing club ball for 17 days. That experience is going to take her to the next level.”

U/DP Bailey Akimseu, Punahou, Sr.
• .385 BA, 10 HR, 34 RBIs, 15 runs, .536 OBP, 1.019 SLG
• 4-1 as pitcher, 25 SO, 31 IP
• Batted .462 (6-13) at the state tourney with 11 RBIs and 5 runs, belting 3 HRs in the first 3 days

Coach Eldredge: “One of the major contributing factors to our team’s success this year was converting Bailey Akimseu from a starting pitcher to a full-time first baseman. The extra emphasis she put into her offensive game showed that she has Division I college hitting abilities. She led the state (D-I) in HRs and was second in RBIs. In years past, as a part time first baseman, Bailey was overshadowed by others at that position like Dallas Millwood, Aleia Agbayani, and Skye Ah Yat, but this year, she improved with every at bat.

“She concluded her high school career by hitting three home runs in the State Tournament and winning the Home Run Derby at the Nissan All-Star Classic. Without any post season honors in years past, I would definitely consider Bailey as the most improved player in the state.”

OF Mari Foster, Roosevelt, Sr.
• .583 BA, 9 HR, 34 RBIs, 23 runs, .636 OBP, 1.313 SLG, 3 SB
• Batted .500 (4-8) at the state tourney with 4 RBIs and 4 runs
• Also pitched 18 innings this season, 2-0 with a 0.78 ERA, 14 SO, 6 BB

Coach Fujii-Dias: “Mari has a really good eye in the box, so she’ll rarely strikeout. She also has really good hand-eye coordination, so she’ll put the ball in play. With her compact swing, she is able to spray her hits all over the field as well as hit for power. This makes it extremely difficult for our opposing teams, because they’ll never really know if their defense is in the right positions.”

OF Nohea Hee, Maryknoll, Sr.
• .435 BA, 2 HR, 18 RBIs, 21 runs, .507 OBP, .613 SLG, 3 SB, Golden Glove
• Batted .500 (4-8) at the state tourney with 5 runs, 2 RBIs and 3 SB

Coach Uekawa: “Nohea Hee is a leader and a tremendous softball player. She leads by example, on and off the field. Nohea has led the Maryknoll team to two ILH Titles in two years. She is also clutch, not only making the plays we needed her to make in centerfield, she also was the batter opponents feared to pitch to when the game was down to the wire. Nohea is a momentum changer. I cannot count how many times she made plays that changed the tempo of the game.”

OF Alyssa Asuncion, Leilehua, Jr.
• .488 BA, 2 HR, 15 RBIs, 17 runs, .560 OBP, .814 SLG, 3 SB
• Batted .692 (9-13) at the state tourney with 8 RBIs, 7 runs

Coach Au: “I’m super happy. She was steady Freddie on our team. Throughout the whole year, she was big with the stick. People don’t play her with the respect. Visually we have the big sticks with Gigi and down the line, and her comes this smaller-statured little girl, but she’s got some pop on that bat. She hit the fence I don’t know how many times and got doubles I don’t know how many times. She’s one of those behind-the-scenes players, but really big. I have her deep in the order because it works. We could’ve easily said, let’s put her up at No. 2, but we didn’t need to. Next year, she’ll be at the meat of the order.

COMMENTS

  1. HUH? May 29, 2018 6:02 am

    Coach Millwood: Dallas Millwood ” Also hit by pitch 6 times but still was able to hit .645 during the regular season.”

    You hit .645 when your coach dad intentionally alters your stats and doesn’t report at bats that you got out on. Coach dad would do anything shady.


  2. Falcon Future May 29, 2018 3:25 pm

    ^^^ Wow.

    Those are some heavy accusations. I hope you have video evidence, or maybe your own stats from the games to back it up.


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