Tuesday, January 8, 2002
Strongarm showdownSoftball fans are in for a treat tomorrow when Kamehameha hosts Iolani in a game featuring two of the state's best pitchers.
When Lei and Sing Chow
meet, it's always a classic duel
By Tim Crouse
Kamehameha's Leo Sing Chow and Iolani's Ianeta Lei face each other for the fifth time in two seasons in a key Interscholastic League of Honolulu game.
Just don't expect the coaches to look like they're enjoying themselves.
"If you're not a parent or a coach you would enjoy a game like this," Kamehameha coach (and Leo's uncle) Ty Sing Chow said. "If you're a parent or coach you're chewing on your nails."
Every meeting the past two seasons has been significant, and tomorrow's game will be no different.
With a win, Kamehameha (9-0) will have a two-game lead in the standings with four remaining. A win by Iolani (8-1) would create a two-way tie for first place and set up a possible one-game playoff at the end of the regular season.
"We just look at it as another game. We can't get too worked up," Leo Sing Chow said. "At times it's tough (to remember that). Everybody reminds each other."
In their first meeting this season in December, Kamehameha beat Iolani 4-2. Sing Chow helped her cause with two hits, including a double, and two runs batted in. Lei tripled for Iolani.
"I feel pressure every time I pitch, but especially Kamehameha because they're a good hitting team," Lei said. "And defensively they're really good also so I feel like I have to put out extra effort against them."
In most of their recent matchups, defense has played a big role in the outcome. And the winning team has come up with timely hits. But in the end, everything comes down to pitching.
"The whole team is important, but this game is a pitcher's game," Ty Sing Chow said. "When you get two pitchers going at it like this it comes down to (which team) makes the mistake. The better team that day wins and it can be either one of us."
Sing Chow and Lei didn't get to where they are the same way, but both look forward to the challenge the other presents.
Sing Chow, considered a power pitcher, has been throwing since her freshman year. This season she has posted a 6-0 record. In 37 innings she has 45 strikeouts and only five walks. She has allowed just two earned runs for a 0.38 ERA.
"She's a power pitcher, yet she has a lot of finesse pitches. She has six pitches she throws" Ty Sing Chow said.
Leo Sing Chow said changing speeds and mixing up her pitches were crucial to success.
"If you just throw a straight fastball, they'll hit it," she said.
Said Ty Sing Chow: "She's a coach's player. She works hard, puts in extra time after practice with no complaints. She just does it."
"She's very competitive, but she's not going to be rah-rah. She's a gamer. She wants that challenge. She wants that ball," he said.
During Lei's freshman and sophomore seasons, Iolani had ace Mitzi Ing as its No. 1 pitcher. But after Ing graduated and went to Fresno State, it was Lei's turn for the lead role.
"She was our No. 2 pitcher as a sophomore," Iolani coach Chris Shimabukuro said. "She stepped right in (as a junior). She's such a team player. She'll do whatever is best for the team."
Lei responded by beating Kamehameha twice, with the second victory coming in a one-game ILH playoff matchup. Lei tossed a three-hitter to lead Iolani to a 4-1 win and the ILH championship.
She is 6-1 so far this season.
"She can be funny off the field, but once we hit the field she's serious," Iolani sophomore catcher Tricia Sakamoto said.
Lei said she needs time before she pitches to get into the "game mode." She said her keys to success were not walking anyone and making sure her pitches had movement.
"Neta has a strong mind," Shimabukuro said. "She just keeps battling on the mound and hardly ever gives in to a hitter. She's very competitive.
"I think that's what makes her (successful). That's the edge that she has: her competitive nature and desire to push herself."
He said the pitchers are similar in many ways.
"The two of them are very competitive," Sing Chow said. "I think any coach in the state would want either one of them."
Leo Sing Chow, Kamehameha
Tale of 2 pitchers
>> 5-foot-6, senior
>> No. 15
>> Record against Iolani: 2-2
>> Position when not pitching: Designated hitter/outfield
>> Top games: No-hitter against University Dec. 28 and five 1-hitters last season
>> 5-7, senior
>> No. 18
>> Record against Kamehameha: 2-2
>> Position when not pitching: Third base/outfield
>> Top game: No-hitter in a losing effort against Baldwin in the semifinals of last season's state tournament.