Campbell freshman ace Taryn Irimata is back in the groove

Taryn Irimata was on the cusp of a special season. Photo by Kat Wade / Special to the Star Advertiser

Perhaps the youngest team in the state, Campbell was flying high through preseason with freshman ace Taryn Irimata dazzling and hypnotizing batters at the plate.

Then it happened. The COVID-19 pandemic brought spring sports season to a screeching halt. The Sabers, who beat OIA West powerhouse Mililani twice during preseason and the abbreviated regular season, will never know what would have been.

The good news is they will return most of the roster next season, if there is a season. Irimata was 9-0 against mostly state-title contenders during nonconference play with a 1.41 ERA, 61 strikeouts and a mere 11 walks in 49.2 innings. An unholy screwball and pinpoint fastball kept the West’s sluggers off balance most of the time.

Irimata and her teammates took time off during the lockdown, but they’ve been back on the field. Training with proper guidelines, like social distancing, wearing masks in the dugout and constant hand sanitizing.

“The first month, it was a good break for me. Softball was year-round, every day. I tried to get back in shape, running and lifting. Club softball, we started working out again in June,” said Irimata, who plays for Easton Preps.

One change in club league play, she noted, is at home plate.

“Practice is the same, but games, the umpire isn’t behind the catcher. He’s behind the pitcher,” she said.

Ball and strike calls, Irimata added, have not declined with the change.

“We had scrimmages and a tournament. I pitched around six games. It doesn’t really feel different. The calls are kind of the same. Nobody’s complained,” she said. “The umpires aren’t wearing their umpire mask, but they’re wearing the cloth masks.”

The limited travel opportunities because of the virus meant no looks from college coaches this summer.

“Last summer, I went to a combine in California. Four (college) coaches talked to my coaches about me. It had about 40 coaches from colleges with their clipboards and everything.”

Easton Preps works out twice a week. It took time, lifting at home, running when she could, but Irimata feels prime again.

“I’m pitching like I was in season. I would say that is a 9 (out of 10), but in the beginning I was probably a 5,” she said.

Lockdown staples
Top 3 foods/drinks
1. Boba. “I’ve been craving boba for a long time. I haven’t had it since the beginning of quarantine. There’s a lot of good places. Boba Cafe is one. Infiniti. Icee Bubbles.”
2. Seafood. “I’ve been craving seafood boils, too. Crab Shack or Kicking Cajun. Crab Shack is in Kapolei and Kicking Cajun is in Kamakana.”
3. Hot Cheetos. “I always munch on this. My mom (Andrea Irimata) gets them for me.”

New skill
Irimata: “I started drawing. Learning how to draw facial features from YouTube. Whenever I don’t have softball, or if it’s not a busy day, I’ll do that in my free time. We laugh. It’s just for fun, trying new things. I’m not really that good. I saw online, (how to draw) an eye, but it’s really detailed with lashes, so I drew one, a random one. I would draw Rachel Garcia, the softball pitcher (UCLA). She was pitching when they won the World Series in 2019.”

Shout outs
Irimata: “To my teammates. They help me stay in shape or we go to the park to pitch and field, anything. To my seniors that didn’t get to finish their season. I wish them the best in college and their future. And my mom, too, because she takes me to practices and whatever we have even when she has work and meetings.”

Mom (Andrea Irimata)
Irimata: “She gave up a lot to help us and take care of us. For a while, she wouldn’t really exercise because she didn’t have time to, but because of quarantine, she’s been exercising.”


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