Just like that, the gauntlet is back in full operation.
The return of three starters, including junior Allie Capello, lifted ‘Iolani to a 13-7 win over Kamehameha on Monday. The jolt into the Interscholastic League of Honolulu softball standings is measurable. Kamehameha was unbeaten before the weekend, and has since lost to Maryknoll and ‘Iolani.
Though Maryknoll (5-0) has a vice grip on first place, the Raiders have regained momentum. The missing starters were out for roughly two weeks. Part of that was when they played in an elite tournament in Las Vegas to get more exposure to college recruiters. Part of it was a school-mandated quarantine upon return. Coach Benny Agbayani gave the trio his blessing and welcomed them back with open arms.
“It was back to ‘Iolani softball. Allie started and Ailana (Agbayani) finished,” Coach Agbayani said. “No home runs. We just played small ball and we let Kamehameha make the mistakes, and we took advantage of it.”
Capello pitched five innings. Without the three starters, the Raiders (2-3) lost to Kamehameha, Punahou and Maryknoll.
“Allie looked like she was in season form. It’s big to have her back. She can get better. She did an outstanding job for us,” he said.
The Raiders maximize their versatility, plugging and playing their position players who can also pitch in a pinch.
“If you play on my team, you have to be a utility player. I try to train them for that. It gives them a better advantage of (college) coaches looking at them, seeing that they know how to play every position,” Agbayani said. “I like doing that. It gives me a versatile team. We move them around and we know where we’ll be successful.”
The Raiders host Mid-Pacific on Wednesday afternoon. Elsewhere, Kamehameha plays Sacred Hearts, and Punahou battles Maryknoll. Even if first-place Maryknoll wins, the battle for second place is wide open. The top two finishers in the regular season will have first-round byes in the single-elimination playoff tournament. There is no back door for the top team in the regular season.
“It’s going to be a dog fight, but it always is. It’s who makes the least mistakes and who plays defense,” Agbayani said.
‘Iolani will meet Sacred Hearts on Saturday afternoon, not long after the school administers vaccinations for students 16 and older.
“Dr. (Timothy) Catrell and his administration at ‘Iolani are doing a great job. They are probably the first school to do vaccination shots. They’re just looking out for the kids’ health,” Agbayani said. “They’re opening it up to the parents.
The remainder of ‘Iolani’s games are at their unofficial home field, Agbayani added. Games are being streamed on the school website.