Coach: Lady Lunas a young, energetic and athletic team
LAHAINA – Softball is a way of life for Lei Nakamura and her family.
As the head coach of the Lahainaluna High School team, the president of the Lahaina Youth Fast Pitch Softball organization and the director of the Maui Pearls club program, Coach Lei indeed is at the heart of the game here on the Valley Isle.
Even husband Flint brings his skills – as a construction contractor – to the diamond on campus, keeping the field in immaculate playing condition with daily care to the facility.
All the while their two daughters, Brenna and Haley, have taken their game to the college level on the Mainland.
So, even with a long history in softball, Coach Lei, who is assisted by veteran Joe Keanini with the Lady Lunas, retains an unmistakable fire and passion for the game.
This intensity was evident as she described the 2015 Lady Lunas as a “young, energetic and athletic team. They are an awesome group, and we have high expectations for this season,” she said last week from behind home plate at Lady Lunas Field.
Lahainaluna is coming off of a second place finish – to perennial archrival Baldwin – last season in the Maui Interscholastic League standings.
The Lady Lunas compiled an 11-4 record that included a stirring victory over the Lady Bears in the MIL Championship Tournament final, and then a disappointing loss to Baldwin in the overall title game.
Nakamura reported that the team has terrific youthful energy, hits well and will emphasize defense in the 2015 season.
“We’ll work diligently on our defense and get our pitchers to use as much rotation on the ball as possible to allow the players in the field to make plays,” she said.
After a 7-5 preseason showing versus some of the top ILH and OIA teams on Oahu, Lahainaluna will play 12 regular season games (beginning Saturday) against Baldwin, Maui High, King Kekaulike, and Kamehameha Schools Maui in MIL Division I play.
This will lead into the postseason tournament that will determine the league’s representatives to the state tournament on May 11-15 at U.H. Wahine Softball Stadium in Honolulu.
The Lady Lunas suffered a severe loss when senior MIL All-Star centerfielder Tobi Bonifacio suffered an ACL knee injury before the season began. She is currently in rehab with hopes of returning at the end of the current campaign.
Coach Lei emphasized the team’s resilience regarding Bonifacio’s absence and reaffirmed the youthful, positive energy of the players.
“It’s a big loss, but these young girls can play, and we’ll move forward and do well,” she said.
Leading the way will be returning seniors Rhyn Lendio, Taylor Asio, Honeygirl Criste and Ariana Badua, as well as junior letter winners Asti Arcangel, Mikela Cabagua, Kaylee Harmon, Ryah Kaniho, Makana Nuesca, Mele Pasikala and Ana Talaroc-Kaniho.
Sophomores on the roster include Giovanna Johnson and Taylor Panlasigui, and first-year Lady Lunas include Elikapeka Garcia, Mia Gerbig, Kaitlin Hodgins, Taylor Heifort, Shelia Sadang-Tateyama and Tai-Li Tangatailoa.