Pitching gets UHH softball team off to fast start
By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer
A talented pitching tandem has the Hawai'i-Hilo women's softball team off to its best start under head coach Callen Perreira.
The Vulcans (17-3 overall, 10-2 Pacific West Conference, second place) have two of the conference's best pitchers in senior Kristine Kahoalii from Fremont, Calif., and freshman Leo Sing Chow from Waipahu. The two have combined for 13 victories.
"The pitching has done well," said Perreira, who has been coaching the Vulcans for 14 seasons. "On days where a pitcher has had a bad day, the defense would pick up for her and the offense would come around. It's been different people, different reasons on why we're winning."
The Vulcans are second in the six-team conference in hitting (.321), first in fielding (.965) and second in pitching (1.30 earned run average).
The right-handed Kahoalii (5-2, 1.59 ERA) and the left-handed Sing Chow (8-0, 0.29) are joined in the rotation by sophomore right-hander Tara Martinez (4-0, 1.81) and freshman right-hander Sarah Steele (0-1, 2.74).
Sing Chow last year's Hawai'i high school state player of the year from Kamehameha called Kahoalii a "great team player" and a crafty veteran on the mound.
"She has a lot of movement on her ball," Sing Chow said of Kahoalii. "You have to spot your pitches, move it around, change up speeds that's what she does."
As for Sing Chow, her game is built around 60 mph pitches. She earned her first conference Player of the Week honors last week after winning all four of her starts and allowing just one earned run in 22 innings. She leads the league in ERA (0.29) and opposing batting average (.136).
"She throws the hardest out of our four pitchers," Kahoalii said of Sing Chow. "When she pitches, she pitches for a purpose. She's focused. She works her butt off all the time."
The two pitchers have learned from each other as well. Kahoalii said she admired Sing Chow's toughness and her professional demeanor.
"She's really humble about her success," Kahoalii said. "I think that's really good. She's going to be the top pitcher. That's good not only for our team, but for our school."
In turn, Sing Chow said Kahoalii has taught her to rely on her teammates when she pitches.
"She helped me see that you have to rely on your defense and you can't do it all yourself," Sing Chow said. "Even though you may not have your greatest day, you have to keep trying your best and keep the ball low."
In addition to Steele and Sing Chow, the Vulcans have been helped by two other freshmen, catcher Natalie Fujimoto and infielder Erin Castillo. Fujimoto, a Punahou graduate, is second on the team in batting at .385 with two home runs. Castillo, a walk-on from Waimea, Kaua'i, is batting .333 with three home runs. Junior Nancy Vega leads the team in batting at .417.
"Our seniors do really well and they're consistent, but when you have a good freshman class, that just accents the whole experienced bunch," Kahoalii said. "Since I've been here, I think this is the best incoming freshman class we've ever had."
The freshmen have added to the team chemistry, which has been called one of the keys this season.
"Everyone really backs each other up," Kahoalii said. "When one person is not in the game, we're backing up the other person who's playing our position. I think that helps a lot."
The team is scheduled to leave for California tonight to play UC San Diego, Cal State San Bernardino and Cal State Dominguez Hills before participating in the Tournament of Champions in Modesto, Calif., with 19 other teams, including Hawai'i Pacific and Chaminade.
If the Vulcans are to win the PacWest, they must defeat defending conference champion Western New Mexico (27-2, 7-1). UH-Hilo plays a four-game series at Western New Mexico on April 21-22.
"We're going to have to play excellent games to beat them at home," Perreira said. "They have two good pitchers. Mentally they're very tough and they rarely make mistakes. Last year, we were the only conference team to beat them twice."
Foyle honored: Brigham Young-Hawai'i senior Alexus Foyle has been named to the Daktronics NCAA II All-America second team. Foyle, a 6-6 forward, was an honorable mention All-American last season and was named Pacific West Conference Player of the Year for the second straight year.
Foyle led BYU-Hawai'i to a 19-4 record and the PacWest championship. Foyle finished second in Division II scoring with 26.7 points per game.
Sea Warriors qualify: The Hawai'i Pacific cheerleaders and dance team have positioned themselves as top contenders for the 2003 National Cheerleaders Association and National Dance Alliance Collegiate Championship on April 3-6 at Daytona Beach, Fla.
The HPU cheerleaders and dance team submitted a video performance to qualify for the championships.
As a result of the video entry, the HPU cheerleaders and dance team each placed first in their divisions in a qualifying round.
HPU will be competing against hundreds of the world's best college cheerleaders and dancers in Florida.