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Lahainaluna softball team enjoys playing in a world-class venue

By BY WALTER CHIHARA - | Apr 16, 2021

Lei and Flint Nakamura keep the field in great shape for the Lahainaluna High School softball team.

LAHAINA — The golden tradition of 190 years at Lahainaluna High School is manifested in part by the state-of-the-art facilities that grace the historic campus.

Upon entering the school grounds at the foothills of the West Maui Mountains, the sparkling softball field graces the slopes to your left, and Sue D. Cooley Stadium rises like a gladiator to your right.

Both are community maintained facilities and, most fittingly, the Luna football and softball programs have matched the integrity of their playing fields with championship performances on them.

The success of the four-time state champion football team has been well-documented leading into the COVID-19 cancellation in 2020-21.

Likewise, the softball team had won two straight Maui Interscholastic League titles before the pandemic wiped out last season — and looks to leave the current campaign on shaky ground.

Lady Lunas veteran head coach Lei Nakamura is a dedicated optimist, and while the Hawaii Department of Education wavers, the 15-year Lahainaluna mentor moves forward.

As the interscholastic athletic teams have been kept off the field, the club-sponsored programs have not. Most notably here on the Valley Isle, Coach Lei has been instrumental in promoting the club softball play with the Maui Pearls team, and she currently has the high school roster involved in conditioning for the possible start of play.

And, along with husband Flint — of Flint Construction and Excavation — Coach Lei has nurtured the softball field throughout the 15-year tenure with the Lady Lunas.

To be direct, the Lady Lunas’ softball facility is a world-class venue. The view from the field and down to Lahaina Town and then across the Lahaina Roadstead to sunset masterpieces over Lanai is unmatched.

The playing field itself is manicured year-round by the Nakamuras and offers the players a natural surface of consistency and high quality.

For probably 340 days a year, you can count on clear skies, starry nights, light, warm trade winds and a level playing surface.

Coach Lei sees the possible 2021 season as a rebuilding year.

“I am optimistic. We don’t have a lot of experience — just four seniors –but we have a strong battery, and that will be important for the team,” she said.

The Lady Lunas’ 2021 coaching staff includes Lithe Pokipala-Waiohu, Keku’u Haake, Jade Chihara, Shan Tsutsui, Dianarey Talaroc-Kaniho and Ka’aina Kalanikau.

The player roster is made up of seniors Briann Keohuloa, Shaelia Pascua, Jayna Gerard-Soliven and Zoe Reinhardt; juniors Chey-Lee Ann Akina, Leimamo Arruda and Brogan Mitchell; sophomores Makenzie Alexander, Belle Dagupion, Ka’ohe Sombelon-McEwen; and first-year players Sabrina Calma, Valeria Gonzalez-Cruz and Liahona Kaniho.

Coach Lei concluded by expressing her appreciation to her family, the staff and the community at large. She hopes to create a booster club for the program in the near future.