A Sweet National Championship Win For Guava Jam Girls
Not even the elements could stop the Guava Jam Softball Club’s 12-and-under team on their recent trip to Roseville, Calif., scene of the ASA (Amateur Softball Association) Western National Championship Tournament.
Although they were faced with 102-degree temperatures and the usual distractions that go with long-distance travel, Guava Jam completed an undefeated season by winning the event, finishing 26-0 overall, including the games the teams played on Oahu. As a result, Guava Jam made history in becoming the first team from
Hawaii to ever win an ASA “A Division” National.
“Everything has to fall into place to win (on a national stage),” said Guava Jam head coach James Millwood. “We had great kids, and their parents were great. There’s a lot of stress that goes with travel, but the kids didn’t show it.”
Guava Jam went 9-0 on the California trip, highlighted by an 11-2 win over KG Hitters of Concord, Calif., in the title game Aug. 5. Earlier that day, Guava Jam reached the championship game by defeating San Diego Elite 2000 4-1 in a semi-final game. All totaled, Guava Jam tallied 63 runs (and gave up just 9) in the National Tournament.
Guava Jam’s roster, which included Lei Roylo, Chanelle Makinney, Ashley Salausa, Dallas Millwood, Casey Tokita, Karli Murakami, Alana Cobb- Adams, Tarah Aniya, Briana Ryan, Markie Okamoto, Jerae Keliikoa and Misha Carreira, was made up of players mainly from Mililani with a few also hailing from Wahiawa and Ewa Beach.
Although they began last November with seven new players, the team’s cohesiveness was always evident, according to Millwood.
“The chemistry of the team (was its strength),” said Millwood, whose staff included
coaches Stan Cabanas and Jeremy Keliikoa. “They played well together as a team. Everyone knew their roles and tried to play the best team softball they could, which is what we preached all season. We always tell them to play softball the way softball should be played.”
Two other factors made Guava Jam’s accomplishment all the more visible. In Hawaii, their league games were played under a 120-minute time limit, so Guava Jam’s games often only lasted four innings. Also, Guava Jam only played 12 regular- season games between March and June, whereas the teams they faced in California often played 70 to 80 games in the same span. (The team went 5- 0 to win the Hawaii State Tournament back in June to advance to the Western Nationals.)
At the Western Nationals, Guava Jam had to play nine games in five days.
“The pitching and hitting are better than what we generally see here,” Millwood said. “We faced better pitchers, but the girls adapted well and we were able to put the ball in play.”
Guava Jam’s trip lasted eight days in all. Millwood expects the team to stay intact for another run next year.