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By Kaylee Noborikawa, staff writer

 

So far, the Lady Sea Warriors are off to a strong start with a record of 7-3 in the preseason. Playing at the Sea Warrior Field at Hawai‘i Loa campus, they began their tough schedule on Feb. 4 and split their season opener against the University of Arkansas-Monticello, winning the first game 3-2 but falling short to the Cotton Blossoms in the second game 2-1.

The Lady Sea Warriors brushed off their single loss and ignited a four-game winning streak, dominating conference rival Brigham Young University of Hawai‘i (BYUH), 9-1 and 13-0 Feb. 11 in Lai‘e. Back at Hawai‘i Loa, Feb. 12, they slammed Cal State-Stanislaus 4-0 and 5-4.

Simon Fraser University of Canada ended HPU’s winning streak Feb. 18 by sweeping the Lady Sea Warriors 2-1 and 8-5.

The HPU softball team rebounded from the two losses to the Clan and defeated the Chaminade Silverswords 5-0 and 4-3, for their preseason record of 7-3.

“ We started the season with a good start, but not necessarily a great start,” said Head Coach Howard Okita. According to Okita, this will be one of the most competitive schedules that he has ever put together.

The toughest challenge for the Lady Sea Warriors will be participating in the CSU-Stanislaus tournament in California, which features California’s top Division II schools. HPU will also confront 17 non-conference teams from across the nation, besides the three other Hawai‘i schools in the PacWest Conference.

The Lady Sea Warriors are preparing for the tough season by practicing six days a week for at least three hours a day at the Hawai‘i Loa campus.

The Lady Sea Warriors return four all-conference players from last year, including sophomores Kelli Nishikida and Nicole “Shu Shu” Kalakau and juniors Clerisse Lemke and Kara Wedemeyer. Okita acknowledged that overall the HPU softball team is a relatively young team, mostly sophomores and freshmen, with only one senior. Nonetheless he is confident: “We definitely have the talent to make it to the regional playoffs,” said Okita.

Sophomore pitcher Dayna Berry added, “We have a lot of talented rookies on the field, and they work with us so we can trust each other and know what each other is capable of. I really trust the girls behind my back.”

A huge drawback this season has been the injuries that plagued the HPU softball team. So far three starters have been injured and one player could potentially be out for the whole season. First baseman Kalakau broke her hand during the Chaminade doubleheader, and sophomore Lia Pedrina injured her back while sliding into home against Cal State-Stanislaus. Although the Lady Sea Warriors are concerned with their teammates’ health, “we have a lot of depth so hopefully one of the players can fill in,” said Okita.

According to Okita, the goal for the Lady Sea Warriors is to get to the postseason. Last year the HPU softball team had a winning record of 31-15 and 12-6 in the PacWest Conference, but it was one game shy of making it into the regional tournament. “This year we’re going to make sure that we don’t get cut short,” said Berry.
 

 

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