By Tom Mauldin April 2, 2021
Fastpitch Northwest has hosted many outstanding players from Hawaii over the years. Chris Hipa, Sala Pedebone, Taylor Oda, Darian Obara, Brinell Kaleikini, Mykala Tokunaga and Aliya Harmon to name just a few.
College coaches, especially around the Northwest, loved the potential recruits from Hawaii and they were very popular at the Fastpitch Northwest College Exposure Tournament.
Hipa, in particular, made a splash when she attended the tournament prior to playing four seasons at California State Bakersfield. She clocked 64 mph pitching and hit five homers in five games.
“They (players from Hawaii) are always so disciplined. Their fundamentals were excellent,” said Blue Mountain Community College assistant coach Ray Moffitt. “And they are familia … very polite and respectful. And boy do they hustle.”
Pedebone went on to play for Portland State, Tokunaga played at Sonoma State, Harmon at Western Oregon, Oda was a standout at Short University and Kaleikini played four seasons for Hawaii-Hilo. Obara plays for the University of Hawaii-Hilo.
Again, this is just a small sampling. Edmonds Community College softball roster featured seven players from the islands.
If all goes according to plans, Hawaiian recruits will be on the field for the 2022 Fastpitch Northwest College Exposure Tournament.
Tom Mauldin, senior Fastpitch Northwest advisor, will be conducting a pair of Prospect Evaluation Camps in Hawaii this fall. Players who catch Mauldin and crew’s attention will be invited to the August, 2022 Fastpitch Northwest College Exposure Tournament in Washington.
“There’s a lot of outstanding talent on the islands and we are excited about going back,” said Mauldin, who conducted a number of PECs in Hawaii with former Fastpitch NW director Ken Olson. “Their skill levels were enjoyable to work with and they are so coachable. We can’t wait to get back.”
Fastpitch Northwest administrators said the prospects from Hawaii have been missed and often are asked when will they return.
"I’m very excited about re-energizing our relationship with fastpitch players, parents and coaches from the state of Hawaii,” said Fastpitch Northwest director Mike Brooks. “The presence of the Hawaiian contingent in past events always raised the level of talent and competition. I have had coaches ask about when we will see more talent from Hawaii.”
Needless to say, college coaches are eager for their return.
“The Hawaii players are always a blast to be around,” said College of Idaho head coach Al Mendiola. “They seem to have an unbelievable attitude and the families are very ‘welcoming.’”
As noted, Hawaiian players have dotted lineups throughout the Northwest for years.
“I have had about eight Hawaiians in the last couple of years,” said Clackamas College coach Jessica Buel. “All have had good skills. I’ve also watched a good size chunk move on to very good four-year programs.”
Dates and locations for the Hawaii PECs have yet to be determined, but will be announced as soon as details are finalized.
“They have a lot of talented young ladies on the island and I look forward to hearing about them and watching them,” said Mendiola.
“With new Prospect Evaluation Camps planned for the fall of this year we look forward to adding teams representing the state of Hawaii at the 2022 Northwest Championships,” Brooks added.