By BILL O’REAR
Tribune-Herald sports editor
Kohala pitcher Chyler Imai has been voted the Big Island Interscholastic Federation West Division softball Player of the Year after leading the Cowgirls to another rock-solid season.
She led Kohala to a BIIF runner-up finish in Division II and a second straight state tournament berth, impressing the league’s coaches along the way.
Imai, a right-hander, had 10-4 record in BIIF play and was one of Kohala’s top hitters, especially in the clutch.
“Chyler pitched every game,” Cowgirls coach Terrence Alcoran said. “She pitched very well all season. She was really important to the team’s success and a good team leader.
“I think she’s a good choice for the Player of the Year award. This year, she was able to beat the D-II and D-I teams. When we lost to Honokaa, she came right back and helped us beat them.”
Alcoran said Imai was the team’s pitching ace for three straight seasons.
“I’m happy for her,” Alcoran said. “She’s very deserving.”
Imai, a two-sport standout, will play volleyball at Western New Mexico University next year. She is thrilled by being named the West Division’s Player of the Year.
“I’m thankful for my coaches and teammates,” she said. “I think we had a successful season, doing well in the BIIF and making states again. The last two years have been a lot of fun.
“As a senior, I tried to go out and play hard every game. I tried to show leadership and get everyone to go out and give it their all. Looking back, I’m pretty happy how everything turned out.”
Imai is joined on the West Division first team by Kohala junior first baseman Tiani Luga, senior third baseman Casey Utemei and senior outfielder Jordelle Antonio; Konawaena freshman shortstop Bethany Batangan; Hawaii Prep senior catcher Stacie Doi and sophomore outfielder Chancis Fernandez; Kealakehe senior second baseman Nicole Rivera, sophomore catcher Kaleanani Anakalea-Haleamau and freshman utility player Kelina Palmer-Kahananui; and Honokaa sophomore second baseman Kayla Kalauli, sophomore outfielder Allie Shiraki and freshman utility player Jasmine Castro.
Alcoran was named the West Division Coach of the Year. He led the Cowgirls to a 10-4 record and the BIIF D-II title game against Kamehameha. The Warriors, behind the one-hit pitching of senior Kiani Wong, defeated the Cowgirls 5-1 to capture the league crown.
“Kiani was on her A game that day,” Alcoran said. “She was awesome.”
The Cowgirls then went on to finish 1-2 at the state D-II tournament on Oahu. They dropped their opener to Waipahu, then fought past Honokaa 7-2 before falling 7-3 to St. Francis.
But the Cowgirls coach enjoyed what he called a productive season.
“I’m really happy with this year,” Alcoran said. “We had a really young team with a lot of freshmen and sophomores. We were kind of up and down, but the young girls stepped up and did well.
“We’re looking forward to next year.”
Alcoran praised his assistants, Stan Gonsalves and Hauoli Alcoran, for their contributions this season.
1B — Tiani Luga Jr. Kohala
2B — Kayla Kalauli So. Honokaa
2B — Nicole Rivera Sr. Kealakehe
SS — Bethany Batangan Fr. Konawaena
3B — Casey Utemei Sr. Kohala
C — Stacie Doi Sr. Hawaii Prep
C — Kaleanani Anakalea-Haleamau So. Kealakehe
OF — Jordelle Antonio Sr. Kohala
OF — Chancis Fernandez So. Hawaii Prep
OF — Allie Shiraki So. Honokaa
P — Chyler Imai Sr. Kohala
U — Jasmine Castro Fr. Honokaa
U — Kelina Palmer-Kahananui Fr. Kealakehe
Player of the Year
Chyler Imai, Kohala
Coach of the Year
Terrence Alcoran, Kohala
• Honokaa: Kawehi Bell-Kaaekuahiwi, Kayla Requelman.
• Hawaii Prep: Camille Kiyota.
• Kealakehe: Brooke Rivera, Ashley Isisaki, Summer McEntee.
• Kohala: Ashlyn Van Zandt, Denae Rivera, Jovi Antonio, Sheana Cazimero.
• Konawaena: Kaua Mitchell, Saxon Nagata.
Note: Kohala athletic director Laurie Kostik is the BIIF softball coordinator. The All-BIIF teams were selected through balloting of the league’s head coaches at the end of the regular season.