In 2020, one year after Aleia Agyabani’s monster, All-State player of the year season, the ‘Iolani Raiders were ready to prove any doubters wrong.
Instead, the spring season of ’20 was wiped away by the COVID-19 pandemic, and as the ’21 regular season approaches, ‘Iolani Coach Benny Agbayani has a slightly different perspective.
“We’re just winging this season and kind of preparing more for next season. I’m going to use this time to develop my players and try to get them college scholarships,” said Agbayani, who guided the Raiders to the state championship in that ’19 season.
After just a few weeks of prep time — and just one preseason scrimmage — the Raiders begin their ILH softball season this week.
On Tuesday, the ILH regular season schedule begins with a Division II matchup of Damien and Punahou II. On Wednesday, Sacred Hearts will visit Mid-Pacific and Kamehameha will host Punahou to begin the D-I slate.
On Saturday, ‘Iolani will visit Mid-Pacific.
Aleia Agbayani, his oldest daughter, is now at Cal. Younger sister Ailana Agbayani is a junior. Much of the talent on this season’s team are juniors and sophomores.
When she is not pitching, Ailana Agbayani is at shortstop. Junior Allie Capello, a utility phenom, also pitches. So does sophomore Kiara Baba. Lexie Tilton, a junior, has been joined by sophomore Kennedi Tseu in the outfield. Tseu also plays middle infield. Another sophomore, Harley Acosta, plays both corner positions.
The versatility and skill sets are quite useful for Coach Agbayani. He’s grateful to have a field again. The softball field maintained by the school is now available to the team after being off-limits during the pandemic. The softball Raiders have access on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The baseball team, which has no field this year, uses the softball field on other days.
“They have probably 50-plus kids so they need a place to practice, also,” Agbayani said.
The modified practice schedule works out for the Raider softballers.
“I want the girls to be student-athletes. ‘Iolani is really academically high, so they have more time to study on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Everything is voluntary, but I make sure they use that time to get their studies in order,” he said.
The ILH, heavily dependent on City & County fields for spring sports, has a schedule out for softball (see below).
“We didn’t get permits (yet),” Agbayani said. “The permits are probably going to be on Apr. 18.”
Until then, the league is utilizing softball fields at school campuses.
Tuesday, Mar. 30
Damien @ Punahou II, 4 p.m.
Wednesday, Mar. 31
Sacred Hearts @ Mid-Pacific, 4 p.m.
Punahou @ Kamehameha, 4 p.m.
Thursday, Apr. 1
Maryknoll II @ Punahou II, 4 p.m.
Kamehameha II @ Mid-Pacific II, 4 p.m.
Saturday, Apr. 3
Sacred Hearts @ Kamehameha, 10 a.m.
Maryknoll II @ Kamehameha II, 1 p.m.
‘Iolani @ Mid-Pacific, 10 a.m.
Maryknoll @ Punahou, 2 p.m.
Tuesday, Apr. 6
Maryknoll II @ Mid-Pacific II, 4 p.m.
Damien @ Kamehameha II, 4 p.m.
Wednesday, Apr. 7
Sacred Hearts @ Punahou, 4 p.m.
Maryknoll @ Mid-Pacific, 4 p.m.
‘Iolani @ Kamehameha, 4 p.m.
Saturday, Apr. 10
Kamehameha II @ Punahou II, 11 a.m.
‘Iolani @ Punahou, 2 p.m.
Kamehameha @ Mid-Pacific, 10 a.m.
Damien @ Mid-Pacific II, 1 p.m.