Cira Bartolotti has traveled near and far to achieve a dream.
The Kapolei senior signed with Hawaii on National Letter of Intent Day, but she is far from satisfied.
“It’s motivation and a self-awareness having that motivating you to work harder knowing have (college) next year,” said Bartolotti, who struck out 76 in 80 innings as the Hurricanes’ ace last spring.
In her first season at Kapolei after transferring from Maui, she also clocked a team-high five home runs with 15 RBIs and batted .302. The trend elsewhere in various sports has been for high school athletes to pass up their final season to decrease injury risk.
“Some of my friends have done that in the mainland,” she said. “There’s a high risk for injuries so the players think it’s better to condition and rest instead. But the high school softball in Hawaii is a lot more competitive, a lot more intense. The entire community gets behind the team.”
So Bartolotti continues to work every day, through the summer, fall and winter. Her trusty weapon of choice has been with her for an extended duration.
“I think I’m using the Louisville LXT. It’s purple and teal, 34/23 drop 9,” she says, unsure of how many hits she’s had with it. “I think it mostly depends on the bat brand, I really like Louisville. It’s lasted since sophomore year, and through the summer.”
Like so many elite softball recruits, Bartolotti was extremely busy on the mainland during the summer after sophomore year.
“I played a lot more games. That was the prime of trying to get recruited. We played every single weekend up until the first weekend of August,” she said. “This summer wasn’t so jam packed. We were too old for 16s, so I played in 18s and only in showcase.”
The move from the Valley Isle to the Gathering Place was made with the same quest for opportunities.
“The outer islands don’t have as many travel because of field availability and population. Maui had a couple clubs. One is Lahaina Pearls and one downtown the Maui Titans. I picked up a couple times with the Titans, but I would play with the Pacific Pride and Utah Firecrackers during high school,” Bartolotti said.
On Oahu, there is a summer weekend league. In the peak of summer season on the mainland, teams play more than 20 games in four weeks. With her ability to bring major velocity on the mound, and her power at the plate, Kapolei has a valuable player. At the next level, she might not have that kind of variety.
“For UH and iD-I, they’re going to focus on one or two skill sets to master, like pitching fundamentals. They’ll recruit someone else whose skill is shortstop. They do have a lot of girls who can switch in and out,” Bartolotti said.
During this offseason, she has worked on the package of pitches she already knows.
“I don’t think I’m going to add any new pitches. It would just be changing little things on pitches I have. Just to make them more controlled. My screwball used to break too much or rise ball was coming too high,” she said.
Her head coach, Keoki Behic, is one of the most experienced pitching teachers around.
“With Coach Keoke, it’s more of refining and zoning in and getting consistency. Fine-tuning the fundamentals and not try to implant anything new,” Bartolotti said.
Kapolei, of course, resides in the hyper-competitive OIA West. The last five D-I state champions hailed from the West: Mililani (2014), Campbell (’15-17) and Leilehua (’18). The Hurricanes will likely go as far as Bartolotti can take them.
“I think we have a lot of returnees and we have upperclassmen, a couple sophomores that are moving up from the JV. I think we’re going to have a pretty good season. The west side has a good group of girls, every single game is going to be a battle,” she said. “I had Maui friends who missed me asking when am I come back. But it’s beneficial to have this kind of competition and it just gets you ready.
The ‘Canes have more depth on the pitching staff now, she added. For now, just days before Thanksgiving, it’s about putting in the daily work. The kind that almost nobody sees. She’s grateful for having a home where everyone has her back.
“My family has made so many sacrifices. It hasn’t always been easy,” she said. “My teammates and past teammates and coaches have supported me and helped me along the way.”
Just my family, the sacrificing they’ve made. It hasn’t always been easy. And my teammates and past teammates and coaches for supporting me and helping me along the way.”