GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Mililani pitcher Makani Duhaylonsod keeps the team loose by singing at practice.
Singing and flinging
Mililani's Duhaylonsod is always trying to find the right pitch
FINDING the perfect pitch is equally important in singing and softball. Once located, it can amaze concertgoers and opposing batters alike, rendering the former speechless and the latter utterly embarrassed.
That's what an angelic voice, or a devastating changeup, can do.
Mililani's Makani Duhaylonsod possesses both.
On the mound, the senior pitcher is arguably the most feared returning starter on a Trojans softball team that fell to Baldwin 2-0 last year in the state tournament final.
A three-time Star-Bulletin All-State selection, Duhaylonsod pitched 106 innings for the Trojans last season, compiling a 14-3 record and 1.26 ERA with 70 strikeouts and 15 walks.
As in previous years, Duhaylonsod is expected to shoulder the pitching load for the Trojans, a perennial power once again considered by many as the most intimidating roadblock for any team with state championship aspirations.
"Makani has been our workhorse the past three seasons," third-year Mililani coach Rose Antonio said. "This year is no different."
As a freshman, the 5-foot-11 Duhaylonsod displayed poise well beyond her years, pitching the Trojans to a 5-3 victory over Kapolei to win the state championship in 2005. The next two years, however, ended in heartbreak, with the Trojans losing twice in state championship games.
With this year being her last chance at another state title, Duhaylonsod is taking nothing for granted.
"I've been training a lot this summer; more weightlifting and running than ever before" she said. "Losing to Baldwin last year really motivated me to work even harder this year. Our team goals are to repeat as OIA champions and win states."
Extra hours in the weight room improved the velocity on her fastball, which, in turn, increases the effectiveness of her money pitch, the changeup.
"My changeup is my bread-and-butter pitch," Duhaylonsod said. "I love throwing it to keep hitters off balance."
"Makani's changeup has been her signature pitch the last three years," Antonio said. "Batters have trouble timing it."
Should opposing hitters make solid contact, which seldom occurs, Mililani's formidable defense is more than capable of lending a hand.
Most notable among the Trojans' 13 returning players are two sophomore sensations, second baseman Kristi Oshiro and shortstop Courtney Senas. Both earned All-State honors as freshmen.
"My defense really backs me up on the field," Duhaylonsod said. "Even if they make a mistake I know they'll bounce right back. I have so much faith in them."
Lofty preseason expectations, based on the team's depth and experience, have thus far been warranted.
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Mililani's Makani Duhaylonsod is always looking for perfection, whether on the softball field or singing at practice.
As much as they hate to admit it, the Trojans (4-1 in the OIA Red West entering today's game against Aiea) are aware of the targets drawn on their backs by their conference foes. Despite this, Antonio and Duhaylonsod stress the importance of maintaining the team's tunnel vision.
"We don't like to put added pressure on ourselves," Antonio said. "We're just gonna work hard and play ball."
"One pitch at a time," Duhaylonsod added. "No matter what, we try to have fun and keep things loose."
Maintaining perspective amid mounting pressure is something she does best. And what better way to keep things loose than to break out in song?
"Singing is my passion," she said. "I've been singing out loud since elementary and I've been writing music since beginning high school."
For someone as humble and grounded as Duhaylonsod, praise can sometimes fall on deaf ears. Her singing, however, does not. Last year, she temporarily traded in her mitt for a microphone to sing the national anthem before the OIA baseball championship game.
Duhaylonsod also sang the national anthem to packed crowds of peers and parents during two of Mililani's homecoming football games.
"I sing all the time during practice," she said. "Sometimes my teammates listen, other times they join in. I also like to sing during games in the dugout to keep me and my teammates relaxed."
"She has such a great voice," Antonio said.
Duhaylonsod especially enjoys singing and writing music in Hawaiian. Her love for Hawaii and its culture influences her music and also has an effect on her current leaning toward staying home for college.
"When it comes to writing music, I'm always motivated to finish a song in the same way I'm motivated to pitch a complete game," she said.
At the rate she's been racking up wins, it's clear Duhaylonsod intends to finish her high school experience on a high note.