Saffery savors Kapolei’s ‘magical’ run

Laugatausala Pedebone and Kapolei had plenty of magical moments this year. Jamm Aquino / Star-Advertiser
Laugatausala Pedebone and Kapolei had plenty of magical moments this year. Jamm Aquino / Star-Advertiser

After completing a deep postseason run, Kapolei softball coach Tony Saffery is probably due some time off from the field.

He’ll give himself one day before getting back on the dirt.

“Summer season starts as soon as we’re done here. We practice on Sunday,” Saffery said with a laugh Friday night. “It’s back to work.

“It’s like no rest for the weary. I love it though, I truly do. I love the kids.”

Along with leading Kapolei during the high school season, Saffery coaches with the Hawaii Pearls softball club and his summer plans include taking a team to the USA Preps tournament in Las Vegas.

But before diving into the summer, Saffery reflected on an eventful spring for Kapolei that ended with a 12-2 loss to Campbell in Friday’s state championship game at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.

The Hurricanes closed the regular-season as the third seed coming out of a loaded OIA West and edged division rivals Campbell and Mililani in the final two rounds of the league tournament to capture the program’s first OIA title since 2005.

Kapolei was awarded the top seed in the DataHouse/HHSAA Division I Softball Championship and rolled past Leilehua on Wednesday. The Hurricanes then erased a four-run deficit in the late innings against a feisty Pearl City team and survived with a 6-5 win in Thursday’s semifinals.

Their surge for the school’s first softball title since 2004 ran up against a powerful Campbell lineup in Friday’s rematch with the Sabers, who retained the crown they won last year with a run-rule win over Mililani.

“I just thought we had a magical run through the season,” Saffery said after the postgame awards ceremony. “Today with Campbell, they were just overwhelming.

“We have a lot to be proud of. I told the kids, ‘I know this sucks, losing the last game of the season. But I couldn’t be prouder.’ Our journey was awesome.”

Kapolei will lose a strong senior class that includes five starters in shortstop Laugatausala Pedebone, who hit three homers in the state tournament, first baseman Makana Meyers, center fielder Holiday Ribac, third baseman Raina Mckean and second baseman Shaycelynn Hoohuli.

“The seniors we have were all impact players,” Saffery said. “I really wanted something big for them, to go out with a big bang.”

The Hurricanes also left Manoa with a solid foundation for another run in 2017 with the return of junior starters in pitcher Sadie Kapaku-You and left fielder Dallas Pollard-Brownell and sophomores in catcher Lili Kaimi and right fielder Ciena Kauhi.

Kauhi sparked Kapolei’s rally against Pearl City with a two-run home run in the sixth inning and ended her week with an RBI double to drive in the Hurricanes’ second run on Friday. Kauhi, Kapaku-You and Pedebone represented Kapolei on the all-tournament team.

“The sophomores that entered this tournament played big,” Saffery said. “We have a good future with these kids. We have Sadie one more year, we have some ninth graders in the stable just ready to go. Every practice that goes by they’re getting better.

“Those are going to be the future leaders when the seniors graduate. … They’re going to know what it feels like. So in that light we have big things ahead of us.”

The Pearls had players sprinkled throughout the state tournament’s final four teams and Saffery saw a few in the opposite dugouts during the week while guiding Kapolei to the final.

“Now to face them in a realm like this is awesome,” he said. “I’m proud of all of them.”


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