LAHAINA - With but a week's practice under their belts, the Lahainaluna High School softball team opened up preseason play last week, as they traveled to Honolulu to participate in the Mililani Invitational Tournament. This week, they will host the first annual Lahainaluna Invitational Tournament at the campus field.
The Lady Lunas, guided by head coach Lei Nakamura and assistants Joe Keanini, Dennis Harmon and Flint Nakamura, battled their way to the Maui Interscholastic League tournament championship last season after finishing second in regular season play. This forced a winner-take-all playoff game following the tournament against Baldwin, the regular season champ. In a tight contest, Lahainaluna lost a heartbreaker to the Lady Bears and had to settle for second place in the overall league standings.
Coach Lei and her staff lost seven key players from that 2013 team to graduation, but they remain optimistic heading into the first tournament to be played under the lights at the beautiful Lady Luna Softball Field.
The Lady Luna softball team will begin regular season games on March 1.
The facility overlooks Lahaina Town with panoramamic views of Lanai and Molokai with the picturesque channel in between, and the field has been enhanced with lights for night games and a restroom building. These improvements came as a result of federal Title IX legislation spearheaded by the late Hawaii Congresswoman Patsy Mink.
For the tournament this weekend, Moanalua and Kalaheo from Oahu will be coming over and will join host Lahainaluna, Hana, Maui High and King Kekaulike in the inaugural event field that begins Thursday, Feb. 20, and runs through Saturday evening.
Despite the daunting task of replacing those seven departed seniors that included the 2013 Player of the Year and three MIL All-Stars, Lahainaluna remains optimistic buoyed by the return of starters Tobi Bonifacio in centerfield, Lithe Pokipala Waiohu at third base and Rhyn Lendio at second base.
Filling the positions left vacant by the "magnificent seven" will be sophomores Kaylee Harmon and Mele Pasikala, seniors Jana Pagatpatan and Tracy Panlasigui, junior Ariana Badua and freshman Taylor Acio.
Juniors Audrey Casicas and Elizha Criste, and sophomores Asti Arcangel and Ryah Kaniho round out the Lady Lunas' roster for 2014.
The MIL regular season begins on Saturday, March 1, and runs through the end of April, with the MIL and state tournaments to follow in May.