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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, April 7, 2006

Success in cards for Tausaga

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Dealt a bad hand?

"Make the most of it," says Tyleen Tausaga, a first baseman for the University of Hawai'i softball team.

That no-whine perseverance helped her resist the trouble-sided temptations in her Palolo neighborhood.

It helped her develop into a multiple-tool player who can hit (.374), hit for power (six homers), run with surprising quickness (third-fastest Rainbow Wahine from first to third), and fearlessly make plays (one error in 246 chances).

And it helps Tausaga and her best bud, Ku Vasconcellos, out-sly UH teammates Kate Robinson and Kristi Yoshizawa in the card game of trumps.

"We play trumps all of the time," Tausaga said. "Me and my partner are the true trumps champs."

Trumps is based on patience and strategic strength Tausaga's best suits.

She first developed her wide swing playing tee ball at age 6, honed it as a left-handed second baseman in baseball, and perfected as an All-State softball player at Kaimuki High.

She does not wear batting gloves, nor does she check-swing. "When I get my pitch, I go for it," she said.

She has spent a lifetime making the right choices. In the Palolo housing complex, she said, "there were the drugs and the gangs and stuff. But my parents were really good with keeping me away from those things. I had good friends. It wasn't that hard to steer away from that life. I was pretty smart about myself."

Now she wants to serve as role model for Palolo youngsters.

She also manages to remain calm in difficult circumstances. In a road game against Grambling State two weeks ago, hecklers serenaded her with chants of, "Bar-ry ... Bar-ry," a reference to slugger Barry Bonds. When she weakly grounded a pitch foul, they demanded she return to high school. "I decided to let my actions speak louder than my words," she recalled.

She responded by launching the next pitch over the right-field wall, then slowly trotting around the bases.

"It's better to get my revenge with my bat," said Tausaga, whose team plays New Mexico State at 6 p.m. today and a doubleheader tomorrow. "That's the best way."

It appears Tausaga's trump card is her heart.

Reach Stephen Tsai at stsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.