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East // East Oahu Sports

Lady Cougars Dominating So Far In Division II Softball Play

The Kaiser girls softball team entered the 2013 season looking as if it were a year or two from being a contender, having one of the youngest rosters in the OIA. But with a dominating start on the field – including eight wins in as many outings – it’s suddenly the talk of the league.

“This group makes coaching really easy,” said head coach Mitch Matsumoto. “There’s an old saying that softball doesn’t know age, and that’s so true. We sometimes have nine freshmen in the lineup at once, but it doesn’t look like it.”

Kaiser is in DII this season, but will likely move up to DI next year if it continues its dominance. Four of its wins were by shut-out, while yielding only a single run in two other games. Kaiser has won by an average score of 13-1 – including blowout wins over Radford 18-0, Anuenue 27-0 and Kalani 17-0.

Matsumoto attributed his deep talent pool to the fact that most of them play softball year-round in clubs. “Our strength is that we have a group that knows how to play the game. A lot of teams we’re playing don’t have the experience that our girls have, so we’re seeing a lot of lopsided scores. Our preseason was tougher than our regular-season schedule.”

The Cougars hosted an 18-team tourney of their own to kick off the preseason in February and then were in the Mililani and Waimea tournaments, playing 20 games in all. “We came out of that at 10-10. In all three, we played good softball all the way through.”

With its 8-0 start, Kaiser is on track to earn a No. 1 seed for the OIA White tournament later this month, which also would guarantee one of OIA’s four state berths. Home games remain with McKinley Wednesday and Anuenue Thursday.

Regardless of their seeding, Matsumoto won’t be surprised if they see Nanakuli again. Kaiser beat the Golden Hawks 3-1 early on, but Nanakuli has been dominating ever since, winning eight straight games. “Nanakuli is equal to us. On any given day, we can beat each other.”

Freshman pitchers Crystal Ching-Lake and Lesieli Aholelei have proved reliable to date, and both are expected to share the load getting ready for post-season. “Crys-tal is the ace right now,” Matsumoto noted.

In addition to their pitching, the Cougars have been solid in every area according to their coach. “Our offense has been very good – we hit the ball real well. Right now, Rainelle (Matsuoka) is our most outstanding hitter. Our defense also has been excellent. We’ve been very happy with these girls.”

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