Kamehameha's Kezia Lucas was spotted as a potential two-sport star, but she picked softball

Mar. 26—Four years ago, a seventh grader on the Kamehameha intermediate softball team left an impression on coach Mark Lyman.

Four years ago, a seventh grader on the Kamehameha intermediate softball team left an impression on coach Mark Lyman.

Then the Warriors Division II coach, he watched his team scrimmage the intermediate squad and saw someone special.

"Kezia was in seventh grade, a big girl and she was strong. Athletic. She homered. It was a no-doubter home run, just destroyed my pitcher. And she's just seventh grade, " Lyman recalled.

But Kezia Lucas also liked basketball.

She was good at it, too. Tall. Strong. Quick. Versatile. Kamehameha coach Pua Straight saw Lucas play as a seventh grader on the intermediate hoops team.

"I could tell from the first time I watched her play she was a baller, " Straight said. "So incredibly talented, athletic and smooth as a player. She played with us on varsity her freshman year. She came up big for us in some of those close games with our young team. She played all five positions for us."

There was a pivotal moment not long after the hoops season ended. Lucas suited up for the Warriors varsity softball team. Lyman was in his first year as varsity head coach.

"We're playing in the winter league and she came out. We were playing at Kapolei. Her first at-bat, she hits a home run. In fact, that first day, she hit two home runs, " Lyman recalled.

It wasn't shocking to Lyman, who had seen Lucas play both sports.

"She was one of the first ones off the bench for the basketball team. (Kamehameha co-athletic director ) Brandy Richardson was very high on her, " he said.

Basketball's loss was softball's gain. Two-sport athletes are rare at powerhouse athletic programs like Kamehameha.

Lucas grew up playing baseball and softball, learning the trade from her father, former Roosevelt and Hawaii Hilo catcher Aukai Lucas. Even through basketball season, she and her father would work out in their batting cage two or three times a week. The bat speed and natural power were always there.

"At Kapolei, I was surprised, being able to hit home runs. Right then I knew what I wanted to do : pursue softball, " Lucas said. "I was more of a skilled basketball player. I was able to play anywhere on the court. If my team needed me to play a specific position, I was willing to do it."

But there's nothing quite like the feel of bat connecting with a ball, right on the sweet spot.

"She met with me and let me know that softball was her passion, and that she was going to focus on that, " Straight recalled. "She was always open and honest with me in her communication. As expected, I was bummed when she chose to focus on softball. I knew she could help our team, but I definitely understood and supported her decision."

Since then, Lucas has been incredible. She played a limited role as a freshman on a deep Kamehameha squad, hitting two home runs in nine at-bats. As a sophomore, she cranked 14 total home runs in nonconference, regular-season and postseason games. She was voted by coaches and media to the Star-Advertiser All-State first team as a catcher. She had 41 RBIs and 22 runs scored, batting.426 with an on-base percentage of.493. Her slugging average was 1.118. The batting cage at the Lucas home is essentially their year-round lab.

"I give all my props to my dad. He worked hard on trying new things, helping me with everything, whether it be my front arm, back arm, my legs. He had a big influence on my swing. It's now completely different from seventh grade, " she said. "He works with me mainly on hitting. On a catching day, it's mostly glove work. We do framing drills, not much blocking, to get our hands working, get the glove working."

Lucas didn't start playing travel ball until she turned 14. It didn't matter to college coaches. She fielded a number of scholarship offers and committed to Arizona in October.

"I like the coaching staff and the girls. The atmosphere felt like home and they were very welcoming. It felt like somewhere I can pursue my softball and academic career, " she said. "I was under the radar when I was 14, which was a big help. I wasn't exposed too early. I was exposed at the right time. It wasn't too early or too late."

Perfection is always a pursuit in a sport that is dependent on constant failure. Even Lucas has the same struggles as most hitters, just not very often.

"One day she struck out. I said, 'Don't worry about it.' She said, 'I'm not going to worry about it. I'm going home and I'm going to work on it with my dad.' He's quiet. He's calm, and she goes about her business, " Lucas said.

The workouts never end. At home and at Kamehameha's elite strength conditioning program, she bulks up in the offseason and preseason, then keeps a maintenance plan going through the season with her teammates.

"Freshman year, she was very accommodating. She'll do whatever you need. She was the DH and we put her in different situations, " Lyman said. "Last year, she was the DH for the first half of the year because we had Mua (Williams ) behind the plate. Her entire family's like that, very accommodating."

Now a junior, Lucas already has nine homers in just 41 at-bats. That includes five in ILH play as the Warriors (16-1 overall ) have opened the regular season 5-1. Lucas has become even more unstoppable, hitting.536 through 16 games with an OBP of.568 and slugging avg. of 1.273.

Returning All-State shortstop and Player of the Year Mua Williams, who has four HRs in league play, and Lucas provide a sizable chunk of Kamehameha's production, protecting each other as the No. 3 and No. 4 hitters in Lyman's lineup.

Williams will graduate this spring and head to Georgia. Center fielder Marley Espiau has signed with Utah, pitcher Kiani Soller with Hawaii, right fielder Mariah Antoque with UH Hilo and left fielder Nikki Chong with Pace. Kelsey Kaluna-Thomas, who plays on one of Kamehameha's D-II teams, will play at Mississippi Valley State.

Lucas has 25 career HRs with one more season next year. While the Warriors make another run for the ILH and state titles—they lost to Campbell and generational ace Taryn Irimata in the state final last year—Lucas may experience a different approach from pitchers in 2025.

For now, Kamehameha's power company is at max voltage. They swing for line drives at the plate, run the bases efficiently, and have stellar pitching and defense.

Ultimately, the Warriors enjoy celebrating the little and large moments. Every time a teammate belts a home run. she is greeted at home plate by the entire team and handed a horse toy and cowboy hat.

"I don't know the back story, but last year for the song contest, the theme was paniolo, the cowboys. It kind of grew over to softball with the horse and cowboy hat, and the two chains. One chain has a picture of Coach Mark, and the other chain is the Warrior logo, " Lucas noted.

She is a young woman who thrives on structure and routine. Not exactly superstition, but Lucas sticks to a pattern.

"My bow, if I'm not wearing one, I don't do good. It's usually my mom (Kukui Lucas ) who braids my hair. At school, it's my pitcher, Kiani (Soller ), " she said. "My pants have to go on last. It's my socks, then my shirt, then my pants. I put on my pants first one day and it wasn't good after that."

Then there are the shades : Oakley Sutro Lite.

"I need to have my sunglasses. If not, it's not going to be a good day, either. I wear them when I'm catching, but not when I'm hitting, " she said.

Lyman counts his blessings. Maturity isn't a given, but his team is loaded with it.

"Kezia isn't super loud or aggressive, but she'll fire people up. She garners everybody's respect by what she does on the field and how unselfish she is. She can get on people if she needs to, but luckily she doesn't need to that much."

The joy of the game is what often separates youth and high school sports from the next level. Lucas doesn't separate success and fun from all the sweat and effort, all the cuts in the batting cage, all the reps in the weight room. All the glove work behind the plate, hour after hour with her dad. With her club and school coaches.

"For younger generations, they should always work hard, " Lucas said. "Always know who supported you from day one. Always know your roots and play the game you love, Nobody's stopping you. Just be you."

KEZIA LUCAS Kamehameha softball —Junior Q &A Did you try other positions first or was it always catcher ?

"This past summer I was a shortstop for my travel team. That was the first time I played it. It's a different mentality. You have to be the commander of the team, which is what a catcher is, too. It definitely is a tough position. I was a solid 7 (out of 10 ). I wouldn't say I'm a very good shortstop, but if the job needed to be done, I could do it."

Gear Bats : "If I really count, I have maybe six or seven. The bat I'm using is a DeMarini CF. I don't know what year it is ; 34 /-10 (34 inches, 24 oz.). It's $400. Definitely cheaper than Easton. I liked it from when I first tried it four years ago. I never got it then, but Easton bats were breaking more often, so I shifted over to DeMarini just to see what I really like. For Arizona, they're sponsored by Easton, but DeMarini doesn't break as much.

"The Easton Advance, the newest one 2024 : 34 /-10. $500. Easton Advance : 34 /-10, 2022. The pop difference is the main thing. The newer one has a little more pop—$500. The 2024 one I got not even a month ago and didn't last more than two months. It's not usable. I sent it back (warranty )."

Batting glove : Brute Bolt chrome series. "I usually just carry one. It lasts for a while. $105. The quality lasts for a while."

Glove : "I have one catcher's mitt. Mizuno. It was white and gray. It's brown now. It's four years old. I personally don't put a ball in my glove. It goes into my helmet and stays there. I think it was def better back then. It was newer and the pop was more there. Now it's kind of wearing away, but you have to use whatever you can get. I honestly have no clue. I don't want to get a new catcher's glove. I like this brand. I like the model. It's something I grew with.

"I have a regular glove, 44 (brand ). Infielder glove. It's about the same (age ) as my catcher's glove. I have another infielder's glove. Infielder gloves used to be gray and navy blue and white, but now it's brown."

Cleats : Ringor. "Their brand is mostly pitching shoes, but mine is a regular shoe."

Top 3 movies /shows 1. "Fury "

2. "Frozen "

3. "Spider-Man " (all movies )

"I have seen 'Frozen' and 'Fury' at least five times. 'Fury' maybe 15 times. It talks about history and World War II. I like war movies."

Top 3 foods /drinks 1. Reign energy drink (white gummy )

2. Icee (blue raspberry )

3. Matcha Frappucino (Starbucks )

Top 3 homemade food 1. Dad and Papa's crab 2. Dad's grilled steak 3. Nana's brownies "Dad (Aukai Lucas ) makes steak couple times a week, crab on special occasions. My nana makes brownies whenever she has time. It's usually for special occasions. I like it plain."

Top 3 music artists 1. Ekolu—"Stuck on You "

2. Steel Pulse—"Your House "

3. Shaggy—"Boombastic "

Favorite athlete : Mookie Betts Favorite team : Los Angeles Dodgers "I guess since Mookie and Manny Ramirez are on the team, I started to be a Dodgers fan. Also, that's a team me and my dad would watch a lot when I was growing up."

Funniest teammate : Kiana Aga "Her vibe. She's cracking jokes all the time."

Smartest teammate : "This is a hard one because pretty much all my teammates are smart."

GPA : 3.3 Favorite teacher : Mrs. Felix, third grade, Pauoa Elementary "I believe she moved back to the mainland. Although she's a teacher, she's more of a motherly figure. Kind. Cares about her students and what they thought, their opinions about different things."

Favorite class : U.S. History (current )

"It's sports in U.S. History right now, how they connect to what went on in the United States."

Favorite scripture : John 3 :16 "It's been in my life ever since I was a little kid going to church."

Hidden talent : Juggling "Baseballs, softballs. Anything that's a ball."

New life skill : Baking "I kind of learned how to bake during (spring ) break. I made cupcakes and brownies. I kind of just do it by myself. If I really, really need help, I'll ask my mom. I have a sweet tooth."

Bucket list : Paris, Tahiti, Italy. Bungee jumping anywhere. I'll go more than once if I have the chance too. I'm always wanting to try new things."

Youth sports : baseball, softball, basketball "I played baseball when I was 5 up until I was 10. My dad coached us. Pauoa, then KAC, then I stopped to play softball. The connection between the boys and girls was different. I played basketball from when I was 5 until freshman year."

Shoutouts : "My family for their support. My coaches for being by my side. My Arizona coaches. The man above."