Sabers’ Pitching, Defensive Excellence Make A Comeback

This article is one in a series of prep softball previews.

Over the past decade, the OIA has asserted itself as never before in prep softball.

Should the 2015 state champ also come out of the West, few will be surprised, according to former longtime Pearl City head coach Keoke Behic.

“Success in softball is pitching,” said Behic, who now is team spokesman for Campbell and head coach Michael Hermosura. “All of the teams in the West are tough, but (defending OIA and state champion) Mililani, Kapolei, Pearl City and Campbell all have exceptional pitching. I’d even go so far as to say that those four teams could be among the top seven in the state in pitching.”

Campbell went 15-5 overall last spring, advancing all the way to the title game of the Division I state tournament, where it dropped a heartbreaking 1-0 decision to Mililani.

The Sabers had regrouped to make their state tourney run after finishing fourth in the OIA tourney days earlier.

As was the case last year, the Sabers are counting on pitching to keep them in the mix.

In addition to welcoming back its ace from last year’s staff, junior Elisa Favela, the Sabers also have up-and-coming sophomore Danielle Cervantes.

“Elisa pitched every game last year, so her experience and her competitiveness should come into play,” Behic said. “I love Danielle’s work ethic. She’s not the flashy type. She’s quiet and just goes about her business.”

Both pitchers will benefit from the return of standout senior catcher Kiana Ulufale.

“She’s a stellar defender, and she’s also tall, maybe 5-10 or 5-11,” Behic said. “Having a stable and solid catcher is a key. She has a strong arm, and the pitchers trust her.”

Campbell also should be solid up the middle again, defensively, with the return of both junior shortstop Chardonnay Pantastico and junior second baseman Cydney Curran.

“As our leadoff hitter, Chardonnay sets the pace of the game,” Hermosura said. “She’s respected by her teammates, and she’s also fearless. She’ll be super important.

“Cydney will be our No. 2 hitter (in the batting hierarchy). She’s a really good defender and one who leads with her effort.”

The Sabers’ outfield will be anchored by senior center-fielder Nashlyn Anguay and senior left-fielder Ashlyn Yagin.

Campbell opens OIA Red West play at 5 p.m. Saturday against Waianae at McKinley High School.

The game is one of five televised appearances Campbell will make on OC16 during the spring season.

These include their games against Pearl City March 17 at McKinley, Kapolei March 27 at Central Oahu Regional Park (CORP), Pearl City April 11 at McKinley, and Mililani April 18 at CORP.