Two local softball players are helping New Mexico State make its case for a national ranking.
Senior first baseman Hoku Nohara, a 2007 Kamehameha graduate, and sophomore Tehani Ka’aihue, a 2009 Kapolei graduate, have led the Aggies to a 10-2 start to open the 2011 season.
Their only two loses have come against Oklahoma, ranked No. 6 in the country in this week’s ESPN.com/USA Softball and USA Today/NFCA top 25 polls.
Individual success is nothing new for Nohara, who hit a team-high .429 as a sophomore, helping the Aggies lead the country in batting average.
As a junior, she hit .378 with 16 home runs and 62 RBIs. After another monster weekend, which included a seven RBIs against Sam Houston State on Saturday, Nohara is poised to better those power numbers. She already has five homers and 18 RBIs in 12 games, hitting .379.
Nohara has been selective at the plate, drawing 15 walks in the first 12 games, giving her a staggering on-base percentage of .524.
She’s also had some help from Ka’aihue, who got off to a blistering start during NMSU’s opening weekend. Ka’aihue collected five hits, including two doubles and a home run, and scored seven runs as the Aggies won their first six games.
Nohara and her Aggies teammates have started this way in the past, going 10-2 to open her sophomore year. The big difference will come in the Western Athletic Conference tournament, where the Aggies are only 2-6 in the last three seasons.
Junior Shaleese Javillo, Nohara’s teammate at Kamehameha, also plays for the Aggies and has scored four runs in limited action mostly as a pinch runner this season.
NMSU continues its season with five games in the UTEP Invitational in El Paso, Texas, beginning tomorrow.