HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL
Nissan teams improvise
The ceremonies to mark the end of the inaugural New City Nissan Softball Classic had already taken place. But even that wouldn't stop the tournament's participants from getting in some innings.
Instead of silence, the cold air blowing through Central Oahu Regional Park last night was filled with cheers, laughs and the clangs of aluminum bats as the members of Teams Armada, Quest, Maxima and Titan combined to play an impromptu game.
The effects of Tuesday's thundershowers and the subsequent rainy weather were still evident yesterday afternoon as the players arrived at the field for the tournament's semifinals and championship game.
Originally scheduled for Tuesday, inclement weather forced the postponement of the games to yesterday. But with the field still deemed unplayable, the remainder of the tournament was called off.
When they first heard of the cancellation, the girls' spirits were as damp as the muddy field they were to have played on.
"Everyone was bummed," said Pearl City's Corrie Nishikida, a member of Team Armada. "They gave us pictures, thanked us for playing. We sort of just hung around."
"Softball is in the blood of us, so we were upset," fellow Charger and Team Quest member Marina Gusman-Brown said.
But some coaxing by the coaches helped to get a pickup game organized.
"The coaches told us, 'Put your shoes on, make like you're going to play,' '' Kamehameha pitcher Noe Esperas said. The ploy worked, as event organizers and the park maintenance crew worked for more than 90 minutes to prepare the field for one last game.
And for this group, made up of the best senior players in the state, it truly was the last game, a final sendoff to cap a successful high school career.
Even though the scrimmage was clearly just for fun -- the teams played with four outfielders -- the intensity of competition was ever-present as fielders turned double plays and batters swung for fences that were an unusual 300 feet away.
"This has just been so great," Gusman-Brown said. "It's been an all fun, no-pressure type of tournament. We get the chance to meet and play with players from other schools, so it's been good."
For the future, marketing director Ryan Takada said organizers hope to expand the tournament and its visibility, particularly to college coaches recruiting local talent.