2017 Top Stories: Softball’s tectonic shift to OIA West

The Campbell Sabers celebrated after beating top-seeded Mililani 2-0 in the championship game of the state softball tournament at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium. Photo by Dennis Oda/Star-Advertiser

In Tuesday’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Paul Honda wrote about the top 10 prep stories of 2017. You can read it here.

Here’s a deeper look at one of the 10 stories.

7. OIA West dominates softball

While the ILH has dominated the Top 10 rankings in basketball and volleyball, state softball titles have continued to remain the domain of public-school programs.

In D-I girls volleyball, an ILH team has won the state title every year since ’02, when Kahuku took the trophy. In D-II, Konawaena won titles in ’12 and 13, but ILH teams Hawaii Baptist and Le Jardin have won the last three tournaments.

The top six teams in the current girls basketball Top 10 are from the ILH, including D-II St. Francis. But on the big stage, Konawaena’s dominance, along with Lahainaluna’s ’10 title, means that a neighbor island public school has taken nine of the last 14 D-I state tournaments. Prior to ’04, an ILH team captured 15 of the previous 16 championships.

In D-II girls hoops, the theme is similar. The BIIF took four titles in a row from ’12 to ’15 (Kamehameha-Hawaii and Honokaa with two apiece) before HBA and Mid-Pacific of the ILH earned the last two. An OIA team hasn’t won the D-II trophy since ’11, when Tani Almont-Done led Radford.

Softball, however, is where the OIA, and in particular programs from West Oahu, have dug in and dominated. Campbell, guided by coach Michael Hermosura, captured its third D-I state title in a row last May, and before this run, Mililani took the trophy home in ’14.

In D-II softball, Nanakuli won three state titles in a row (’13-’15) before Pac-Five won the ’16 crown. Then Aiea won the championship in May.

With universities as far away as the SEC recruiting softball players from West Oahu, players and families are opting more and more to stay put rather than trek into town to advance their softball careers. Compounded by the daily commute and cost of attending a private school in town — the trend is likely to continue.


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