Matsuoka, Passi lead power surge for Swords this season


Chaminade Athletics

Matsuoka rounds the bases after hitting one of her team-high nine home runs.

By Kiran Shastri, Staff Writer

Forget moving the lines, the Chaminade softball team’s  specialty this year has been the long ball. As of today, the Swords have 23 home runs, the school record for a single season. The previous record was 18 in the 2013 season. The Swords are ranked fourth in the PacWest Conference in homers hit this season.

Freshman infielder Rainelle Matsuoka has a team-leading 9 home runs this year. She homered in her first ever at bat this year against the 20th-ranked team in the nation. The individual single-season record is 11 by Brandi Sasaki, which was in 2007. Matsuoka’s totals are tied for second-best ever (Rayna Strom-Okimoto also had 9 in 2013). She is tied for third in the conference in home runs hit this season.   

“I personally don’t think I am a home run hitter,” said Matsuoka. “I aim to just make solid contact with the ball and get base hits. If I get a home run that’s great, (but) my goal is just to get on base.”

Matsuoka is tied for second on the team in hits with 34, only two behind catcher Coco Stewart. Matsuoka is in the top 40 in the conference in total hits.

Another newcomer who has been huge for the Swords is senior outfielder Keani Passi. This is her first year competing in collegiate softball; the last time she picked up a bat was May 2011. Passi wasn’t ready to stop playing sports after the end of her volleyball season where she was breaking records for the women’s volleyball team while being named PacWest All-Conference First Team.

“After volleyball my parents and I realized we weren’t ready for me to stop playing sports,” said Passi. “We joked about maybe getting back into softball.”

Passi didn’t think it was even possible since she hasn’t played in almost five years. This year she is batting .216 with seven home runs and 23 runs batted in.

The powerful bats of these two newcomers have helped the Swords achieve a record of 11-31 so far, already totaling more wins than they had in either of the previous two seasons.

While the Swords seem to have a little extra pop in their bats this season, it hasn’t quite translated into the wins they were hoping for. The Swords are ranked ninth out of 12 teams for the worst on-base percentage in the PacWest. While the Swords are able to hit the long ball, it’s not converting into many runs because few players are getting on base.  

The Swords currently have 130 RBIs and have scored 151 runs with six more games to play. The respective single season team records are 168 RBI and 200 runs (both in 2013.) If the Swords can get 2 more RBIs, it would be fifth-most in program history (the team had 131 last year). And if they can score seven more runs, it would also be fifth-best (the 2010 Swords had 157 runs scored).

And for individual RBIs, Matsuoka has 26. The single-season record is 35 (Strom-Okimoto in 2013). If Matsuoka can get two more, she’ll tie Shannan Hokama (2013) and Sara Lacar (1997) for fourth most.

The Swords are back in action Saturday, April 23, at 12:30 p.m., when they take on cross-town rival, Hawaii Pacific University, at home.