By BILL O’REAR
Tribune-Herald sports editor
Waiakea’s Skyler Agrigado-Togafau was the most feared slugger on the Big Island this past season, clubbing seven home runs in a highly productive year and helping lead the Warriors into the league playoffs.
So when it came time for the Big Island Interscholastic Federation softball coaches to vote for the East Division’s Player of the Year, it was no surprise that Agrigado-Togafau’s name quickly rose to the top of the list.
In a memorable BIIF senior season, Agrigado-Togafau batted .477 with 27 runs batted in and often came through in the clutch when the five-time defending champion Warriors needed a lift. For her outstanding season with the bat and anchoring third base, Agrigado-Togafau was selected the East Player of the Year.
“Skyler really came through with her bat this season,” Waiakea head coach Bo Saiki said. “She also provided us some leadership. She tried to be the person the other girls looked up to.”
Saiki said Agrigado-Togafau worked hard to sharpen her hitting skills.
“She practiced a lot on her own on her hitting,” the coach said. “Sometimes in the game her back would tighten up, but overall, she was someone that we could count on. She really hit the ball hard this year.”
Agrigado-Togafau credited her father, Wardell “Baba” Lancaster, with her helping develop her hitting skills.
“Ever since I was a freshman, he worked with me a lot,” she said. “We focused on hitting and to be more consistent.”
Agrigado-Togafau, who plans to play softball at the College of Southern Nevada next year under former UH-Hilo coach Callen Perreira, had 21 hits in 44 at bats. Besides the seven home runs, she also had three doubles and a triple to spark the potent Waiakea attack.
“I wanted to go to a two-year college coming out of high school and then transfer to a university,” the Waiakea standout said. “I’ll see how I do those first two years and then see what my options are.”
The Warriors claimed the East Division’s top seed after the regular season. But they were upset by rival Hilo 2-0 in the Division I semifinals.
The third-seeded Vikings, under head coach Leo Sing Chow, beat second-seeded Keaau 10-4 to capture the BIIF’s D-I crown and the league’s automatic berth in the state tournament on Oahu.
“We had a young team this year,” Agrigado-Togafau said. “I wanted to show some leadership, get everyone to work hard and help bring the team together. I’m very happy with how the team stuck together all year long.”
Agrigado-Togafau also switched from her natural position of first base to take over at third base this season.
“It was a change for me, but it’s a move that helped out the team,” she said. “I worked hard to feel comfortable with the move and I felt I had a pretty good year at third base. In college, I plan to play first base but third place gives me another option.”
Agrigado-Togafau is joined on the East Division first team by Waiakea’s Chelsea Camello, a right-handed senior pitcher; Hilo’s Fantacie Keahilihau-Kuamoo, a junior shortstop, and Tracee Fukunaga, a senior outfielder; Kamehameha’s Kiani Wong, a senior pitcher, and Gayla Ha-Cabebe, a sophomore catcher; and Keaau’s Cassidy Ramos-Fujimoto, a senior first baseman, Jacy Pagala, a senior second baseman, Mahina Homalon, a senior outfielder, Sabrina Nakaima, a junior outfielder, Kilohi Kamakea-Wong, a freshman outfielder, and Chelsey Pacatang-Hirai, a senior utility player with the skills to play any position on the field.
Camello, who will attend Chaminade University next year, capped a brilliant prep career by finishing with a 12-2 record this past season and 25-2 over the last three years. As a senior, she struck out 76 and walked 28 in 81 innings, to sport a 1.55 earned run average, according to official Waiakea statistician Ernie Ugalde.
Kamehameha, under head coach Gary Ahu, defeated Kohala 5-1in the D-II finals.
Camello and Kiani Wong shared the first team pitching spot, beating out the division’s other top hurlers, including Hilo’s Ashlyn Kaneshiro. The senior right-hander pitched the Vikings past the Warriors and Cougars in the league playoffs to help Hilo (13-4) pocket the coveted BIIF title.
Wong, who will play softball at the University of Hawaii next year, pitched a one-hitter to beat Kohala in the league’s D-II finale. She was one of the BIIF’s dominant players during her four-year career at Kamehameha, including being named the league’s Player of the Year as a sophomore.
In the balloting of league coaches, Sing Chow was named the East Division’s Coach of the Year.
Chow, a former University of Hawaii at Hilo pitching/hitting standout, led the Vikings to the D-I title, using small ball, steady pitching and strong defense to beat out Waiakea and Keaau, under William “Boy” Wong.
“I’m very happy how things worked out this year,” Chow said. “There was improvement all season and the girls worked really hard. It was a team effort by everyone — the players and the staff with my assistants Chiko Mihara, Ryan Salvador and Aaron Kanaeholo playing important roles.”
Chow said there was a “big difference” this season in how the Vikings performed.
“We shifted our focus to improving and getting better each day and not on winning or losing a game. I think that took a lot of pressure off the girls.”
One player who stepped up was Kaneshiro, who led the Vikings’ late-season surge.
“Ashlyn peaked at the right time,” Chow said. “She really pitched well down the stretch. But I credit all of our girls for working hard and staying positive. It was a good year that we’re all proud of.”