Area Softball Teams Prepare For Exciting Second Half In OIA

As thin as the margin for error has always been in the OIA West, longtime Pearl City head softball coach Keoke Behic sees it shrinking still.

“Over the last few years, we’ve seen the league get progressively better, and it was always arguably the toughest in the state because of the parity,” said Behic, who led Pearl City to a state title in 2006. “Everybody is beating everybody. We’re looking at an exciting second half (of the West race).”

Behic attributed the array of talent on the West side to ASA Softball, which has its share of clubs. “The skill level is going up every year, and the players in Hawaii are just going to keep getting better,” he said.

The Chargers figure to be one of the more intriguing teams to follow in coming weeks as the second half of the OIA’s regular season plays out. They are one of the younger teams overall, despite some talented veterans, but the talent level is notable, according to the coach. “If we can make the playoffs, we’ll make some noise,” said Behic, whose team posted impressive wins over Punahou and Moanalua, among others, in preseason. “We have to learn now and peak at the end. Hopefully, our players all can come together.”

Pearl City was 2-3 entering its game with then-co-league leader Mililani late last week. The Chargers posted shut-out wins over both Leilehua and Waianae, while losing heart-wrenching games to Kapolei 4-3 and Waipahu 9-4 – games in which Pearl City had been ahead at the midway point. A 15-5 loss to Campbell accounted for its other defeat. “Campbell and Mililani are by far the two best teams. Campbell really pounded the ball (offensively) at us.”

Behic sees the team’s fate for 2013 tied to “pitching, good defense and timely hitting. There’s always a combination of things (that breed success), but those are three key components.”

At mid-season, senior Joe-Anne Rapoza has been “the catalyst” to date for Pearl City, according to Behic. “She’s leading the team in most of our offensive categories. She has the heart of a lion. She has an impeccable will and desire to win which can’t be taught. Either you have it or you don’t.

She does.”

On the mound, Behic has gone with senior Cydny Rivera and freshman Kristin Frost.

“We’ve been trying to find a nice balance (between the pair) and to work on closing out teams,” he explained.

Pearl City returns to action at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday versus Leilehua at home. On Friday, the Chargers play a televised game at 7 p.m. against Kapolei at Central Oahu Regional Park, broadcast on OC-16.