Chargers Start Softball Season With Two Wins On The Road

Should the Pearl City girls softball team make a run at playoff time this spring, it will look back on a brutal season slate as a big factor in its development. As in past years, the OIA Red West is ultra-competitive.

Head coach Keoke Behic is well-aware of the league’s thin margin for error. His Chargers are currently in the midst of a key stretch on their schedule that began last week with games at home versus Leilehua and Waianae. The team was to visit Campbell Saturday for a key road game with a trip to league-leader, Mililani, set for Thursday.

“It is going to be a battle every game,” Behic said. “Like everyone else in the West, we have a young team with excellent pitching. That’s what is making the West tough. Mililani, Campbell, Waianae and our team – we all have excellent pitching.”

For their part, the 2014 Chargers opened the season in impressive fashion, delivering road wins over Kapolei (1-0) and Waipahu (5-0). In the Marauder win, Pearl City pitchers Kristin Frost and Tiana Kaaialii combined on a no-hitter. Sophomore Frost and freshman Kaaialii already rate among the league’s best at their position.

“Kristin is pitching three or four innings a game, and Tiana comes in as our closer – that will be our plan for every game this year,” Behic said. “Kristin throws a lot of strikes, and she’s gotten a lot better over the year with her secondary pitches. That’s been her strength so far.

“Tiana is the prototypical bulldog,” he added. “She’s so competitive. She gives 100 percent all the time. That’s difficult to teach young players.”

Seniors Robin Kami and Makana Kekauli anchor the team, meanwhile, according to Behic. “Both are three-year starters, and they’ll have a huge impact as far as leadership goes. Both were pretty banged up during preseason, so our success may hinge on their health.”

Kami plays shortstop and catcher; Kekauli is the team’s first baseman.

“Robi is probably our best athlete – she plays a key role whether at catcher or shortstop, and she leads off (in batting),” he said. “We count on her. We’ll ride on her shoulders.

“Makana has excellent tools. Along with Robi, she’s a team captain. When she plays well, those around her respond.”

Thursday’s game at Mililani, which will be Pearl City’s third straight on the road, will conclude the first round of the Red West season. The good news for the Chargers is that they will have three of their last four games at home, including much-anticipated matchups with Campbell and Mililani on April 17 and 19, respectively.

This Thursday’s game should figure big in both teams. “Mililani has been the best so far,” Behic said of the Trojans, who began this season 4-0. “They had a huge win (2-1) over Campbell on TV. They hardly make mistakes. They’re a fast team, which is always good on the base paths, and they have one of the best pitchers in the state in (Aubree) Kim. We haven’t peaked yet. Hopefully, we can peak at the right time.”