MKH Softball Team Has Shot At Little League World Series
As an old adage (most closely associated with NCAA men’s basketball) goes, “It’s not the destination, but rather the journey.”
MKH (Makakilo Kapolei Honokai Hale) manager Derek Higa learned that much from his experience last year when he brought his Little League Girls Softball Majors team to San Bernardino, Calif., scene of the West Regionals. Keeping 11- and 12-year olds focused on the matter at hand is no small task after all, especially with the distractions of travel, regardless of the level or age of a team.
“The experience was excellent – we had a lot of fun up there,” said Higa. “(On the field), we went 1-3. We played two outstanding games, and we played two games where we didn’t do so well. Some days they’re on; some days they are off.
“The coaches are always on,” he added with a laugh.
MKH has another mission in mind when they leave West Oahu Thursday for the 2012 West Regionals, which run Saturday through next Friday. (The winner will advance to the Little League World Series in Oregon.)
“ASA (American Softball Association) is the big thing right now. I coach an ASA team myself – but we’re hoping that we can put Hawaii on the map for Little League Softball and more kids will come out,” he said. “We have a good bunch of girls, and we’re the pioneers right now.”
MKH’s Majors team advanced to the West Regionals by sweeping Kona in a two-game series (13-1 and 5-0). Because Hawaii’s “Little League” softball community is small – there were just three teams in 2011 – teams usually don’t have to win many games locally to move on. Higa’s team is an All-Star team that was selected from just two teams.
“We haven’t challenged a lot of teams, but hopefully we can stay focused and do better this year,” said Higa, whose staff includes coaches Vernon Stanton and Cranston Kamaka.
The MKH Little League Girls Softball Majors Division (11-12 year olds) team includes Breisha Wagner, Lyndsey Hernandez, Keani Nahinu, Ciena Kauhi, Kalyn Higa, Kodi Benoza, Lena Kotrys, Dallas Pollard-Brownell, Nahali’aalohalani Faurot, Shannon Pascua-Stanton, Cranci Kamaka, Keelie Pak and Mahina Piilani.
MKH also will send a Junior Team (ages 13-14) to represent Hawaii at the Little League West Regionals Aug. 1-7 in Tucson, Ariz. Players are Jaira Kalama, Divine LovellPieper, Anissa Akamine, Laisha Hoohuli, Taylor Naehu, Raina McKean, Holiday Ribac, Kyna Akamine, Juscira Kekona Nunes, Taylor Whitney, Kate Case and Shyanne Leutu. MKH’s Junior Team is led by manager Riley Akamine, and coaches Tracy McKean and Jewel Akamine.