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Majam infuses energy, positive vibe to Wahine

By Stephen Tsai

LAST UPDATED: 1:33 a.m. HST, Jan 11, 2011

It was fitting that the leadoff hitter would set the tone -- an optimistic one, at that -- for the opening of the University of Hawaii softball team's training camp yesterday.

"Yes, I survived," center fielder Kelly Majam said, smiling. "I am here. I'm good to go."

Majam, who hit 30 home runs as a second-year freshman to lead the Rainbow Wahine to the 2010 NCAA World Series, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in June. She underwent surgery, attended UH during the fall semester, and recently completed her treatment.

During the Christmas break, she returned to her family home in the San Diego area. Two days after Christmas, she took a radiation pill.

"I did a full-body scan 10 days after my treatment," Majam said. "Nothing was out of the ordinary. They didn't find any cancer cells anywhere else."

Majam said she still is feeling the effects of the radiation treatment. She has some bouts of fatigue.

Perhaps the most difficult part of the treatment was the preparation. She was placed on a noniodized diet, including a restriction on dairy products, in the three weeks leading to the radiation procedure.

"I'm a very big milk person," Majam said. "I love milk. I drink milk every day. That was hard. I'm back on my regular diet now. I am good to go. ... I still have to get back into the swing of things. I wasn't able to lift over the break because I was drained and confined."

UH head coach Bob Coolen said: "We need to tail her off on her enthusiasm to want to do more when she should be doing less."

Coolen said Majam's throwing was "a little affected" during fall training. But, he said, "her hitting was the same."

It was Majam's power hitting that led the way in 2010, when the Rainbows hit an NCAA-record 158 home runs. The first five hitters in the lineup return -- Majam (.400), shortstop Jessica Iwata (18 homers, .367), third baseman Melissa Gonzalez (25, .394), right fielder Jenna Rodriguez (17, .377), and left fielder Alex Aguirre (13, .311).

Left-handed-hitting Sharla Kliebenstein succeeds catcher Katie Grimes. Sarah Robinson and Makani Duhaylonsod-Kaleimamahu will split time at first base. Jazmine Zamora, who hit .600 during the fall, Dara Pagaduan and Kaile Nakao are competing at second base.

Perhaps the biggest offensive loss is the availability of the yellow Easton Stealth bats.

"Our extra teammate," Gonzalez mused.

Last season, most of the Rainbows used the 5-year-old bats. The six bats -- three were broken by the end of the season -- were tested and met the American Softball Association's requirement of not having an exit speed of more than 98 mph.

This year, the NCAA has imposed a ban of bats that are older than three years.

"We'll be fine," Gonzalez said, noting the power source is generated by the "player. We like to think that. We don't want to mourn that loss too much."

Indeed, the Wahine's power numbers did not wane during the fall.

"We still hit a bunch of home runs, and we didn't use (the yellow bats) in the fall tournaments," Majam said. "A lot of times the yellow bats can play into our minds, that you can't hit a home run without the bat. But, really, it's nothing like that. We're still a strong team. We work hard in the weight room, and we work hard in the batting cage. We can still hit a lot of home runs."

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