Wednesday, January 20, 1999
By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Hauoli Kaaihue-Hughes has made her best pitch
to get Kailua into the OIA playoffs.
Making a pitch
for the title
Kaaihue-Hughes holds the keyBy Cindy Luis
to Kailua's run for the girls'
softball state championship
Don't be surprised, a few years from now, to see Hauoli Kaaihue-Hughes as a counselor. Maybe even a mediator.
The senior pitcher for Kailua High School knows how to bring people together to resolve problems. When six starters quit early in the season, Kaaihue-Hughes helped the Surfriders pull together through her leadership on and off the field.
"She's done exceptionally well this season, helped keep the team together after we had some girls quit," said Kailua coach Bernard Victor. "She's been a good leader.
"I've had a lot of good pitchers, too, and she's right up there. She's a very good kid and I wish I had more like her."
Kailua, a nine-time state champion, finished in a three-way tie for the OIA East title last weekend with Castle and Roosevelt, all at 8-1. Kaaihue-Hughes was 7-1 over the season with her only loss coming in extra innings against the Rough Riders.
The 5-foot-7 right-hander yielded just 15 hits in 54 innings, giving up five runs -- three earned -- while striking out 42. Next year, she hopes to be pitching in college, either at Arizona or Hawaii.
But first there's a little matter of a state title. Kailua won championships her freshman and sophomore years but didn't get past the tournament quarterfinals last season.
"I think we're going to go far, can make a great run," said Kaaihue-Hughes. "The team is good. We've lost players but it doesn't matter because we're really together.
"I like my teammates. Out of all the years I've played and all the teams I've been on, I've never been on a team that has so many different types of girls but are all so close. We don't hang around at school, but when we come on the field, we're close."
Kaaihue-Hughes, who started playing softball when she was 5 years old, has been on the Kailua varsity since she was a freshman. Last season, she was voted to the OIA East all-star team as the utility player.
"I don't care where I play as long as I play and can help the team," said Kaaihue-Hughes.
"Wherever I've needed her, she's played," said Victor, coach of the past three Kailua state champion teams (1995-97). "She plays third, first, outfield ... wherever I need a player, she's there. She can catch, too, but I don't want her to hurt her hand.
"Since her father is my cousin, I've been able to watch her develop. Her best pitch used to be the riser but now it's the drop."
Kailua's expectations of reaching the state tournament have risen on Kaaihue-Hughes' arm. The OIA playoffs start next week and the Surfriders will be among the top three seeds from the East, depending on the outcome of a coin-flip to determine seeding.
"If our hitting comes around, I think we'll be OK," said Victor. "Hauoli has the team going where we can win some games there."
"If it wasn't for her, we wouldn't be going this far," said senior catcher Shannon Celoza. "She's a good pitcher and is a leader. Last year, it was a lot of individuals. It's really a team thing this year, no stars."
"As a senior, it would be nice to win the states," said Kaaihue-Hughes. "The thing about this team is we expect to win. We're playing for fun but we want to win."