Mykala Tokunaga’s halfway through her Kamehameha softball career and already has pitched the Warriors to two Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division II titles with two Player of the Year honors to show for it.
If anyone was ahead of the game, it would figure to be Tokunaga.
“I feel like I’m behind,” she said. “All these mainland girls, they’re already committed (to college).”
So seven weeks removed from a BIIF campaign in which she went 12-2 with a 2.08 ERA and hit .595, Tokunaga’s about to begin one of the most crucial parts of a softball year that pretty much spans 12 months.
She’ll head to the mainland for tournaments with her Oahu club, Na Wahine, early next month, and then she’ll hook up with Hilo’s Nobu Yamauchi RBI travelling team.
Tokunaga will do her share of pitching, her full-time job at Kamehameha, while also playing outfield and first base.
“The field, that should be interesting,” she said.
All the while, she’ll be on her best behavior.
“College coaches are going to be watching the whole time,” she said. “From when you get out of the car to warmups to the dugouts to how we talk to our parents.”
Tokunaga reached 57 mph on the radar gun last season and hopes to hit 60 for scouts on the mainland.
“The club season is big,” she said. “It’s really important in the recruiting process.
“Softball’s really not strong on the island. On Oahu, players go Division I, but they have to travel.”
Building off a freshman season in which she finished 9-1 with a 3.04 ERA in 71 innings, allowing 71 hits with 35 walks and 71 strikeouts, Tokunaga added an improved curveball to her repertoire in 2014. She fanned 86 batters in 74 innings, cutting her walks to 23 and yielding 63 hits.
Warriors pitching coach Derek Lincoln credited her with a more cerebral approach in the circle as she began to trust her improving infield.
“Every year the batters get smarter,” Lincoln said. “This season she was a lot smarter with the types of pitches she was throwing. She did way better this season, even though she might have dominated more (in 2013).”
For a perfectionist such as Tokunaga, her pitching numbers rated as “fine.”
It’s the 17 times she made an out at the plate that still stick in her craw.
“I don’t know what happened,” she said. “I should hit .600 or .700 in the (BIIF).”
Still, she led the three-time defending champion Warriors in hitting and was joined on the All-BIIF first team by senior first baseman Gayla Ha-Cabebe (.357, two home runs).
BIIF runner-up Konawaena placed four players on the coaches’ first team in catcher Syleesia Jose (.451, four home runs, 16 RBIs), shortstop Bethany Batangan (.333, six RBIs) and outfielders Dorian “Anu” Binney (.347, five RBIs) and Pua Ubando (.171, 13 runs scored).
Outfielder Allie Shiraki (.472, eight RBIs), second baseman Kayla Kalauli (.278, 13 RBIs) and third baseman Sarah Sedillo (.387, nine RBIs) were selected from Honokaa, and utility player Ranko Ono represented Hawaii Prep (statistics unavailable).
One player who could be a threat to Tokunaga becoming a four-time Player of the Year is slick-fielding Kamehameha second baseman Kiarra Lincoln, who hit .581 with six triples during her breakout freshman season and made the BIIF’s second team. She is the daughter of the Warriors’ pitching coach.
“She was such a great contributor and we’re going to get some more for next year,” Tokunaga said.
Tokunaga plans to become a three-sport athlete while maintaining a one-track mind, participating in cross country and swimming to stay in shape for softball.
Loose as a goose with her teammates and friends, Tokunaga call herself “emotionless” in the circle. However, Lincoln wouldn’t mind if she added a bit more fire at times.
He also would like to see the lanky, 5-foot-9 Tokunaga add something else: weight. Especially if she hopes to thrive at the next level.
“It comes down to this one thing,” Lincoln said. “You’ve either got to build muscle or gain weight.
“She might not have wanted to hear that, but if you look at the pitchers who throw hard, they’re big girls.
“They’re overweight and they’re overpowering. If you look at their body structure, they’re built differently.”