With over 100 games of collegiate softball under her belt, second basewoman Meagan Tokunaga’s PO ‘15 passion for the sport has not wavered.
“I pretty much love everything about playing softball,” Tokunaga said. “I love that it’s a mental game. I love the strategy involved. I think that’s one of the main things that drew me to the sport. There’s always something to learn. You can watch a different baseball game every day and take something new out of it.”
Growing up in the Bay Area, Tokunaga watched San Francisco Giants baseball games with her dad and began playing softball with her friends at the age of six.
“It definitely became a big family affair where my dad and I spent a lot of time playing softball and baseball, and watching games together,” Tokunaga said.
After sticking with the sport for the rest of her childhood, Tokunaga discovered that Pomona-Pitzer softball was the best fit for her as she could balance her other interests with playing a sport.
Head coach Joanne Ferguson recalled Tokunaga’s arrival to the team.
“Meagan arrived at Pomona with a strong work ethic and love of the game,” Ferguson said. “Her drive and commitment to the sport has never wavered.”
In her first season as a Sagehen, Tokunaga earned the starting second base spot and began contributing to the team immediately. In fact, one of her favorite memories of her collegiate softball career was a win against Whittier College as a first year.
“I remember I drove in the winning run in the first game in the eighth inning,” Tokunaga said. “Then, in the nightcap, I hit my first home run in college and we ended up winning both games. I remember feeling like I really contributed tangibly to the team’s success that day.”
Tokunaga went on to help the Hens win a school-record 23 games in the 2012 season and finish third in the SCIAC Tournament. She has continued to be a staple at second base over the past three seasons, with her experience making it easy on her fellow infielders.
“It’s been awesome to play with Meag for almost my whole college career,” infielder Aryana Yee PO ‘16 said. “As her fellow middle infielder, I know we can both look to each other for a pick-me-up when we’re down, and I trust that she has my back at second.”
Despite serving as an everyday starter for P-P and leading the team in multiple offensive and defensive categories over the last three seasons, Tokunaga’s impact as a teammate, leader and friend has been her most positive contribution to the Sagehen softball team.
“Meag is great,” pitcher Bianca Cockrell PO ’17 said. “She is the positive and cheerful, yet responsible and focused, teammate and friend you want to have by your side. Meag leads by example by always being respectful, willing to work hard, and listen.”
Coach Ferguson shared similar sentiments.
“Meagan’s work ethic and drive sets the tone for daily practices,” she said. “She leads by example everyday and takes the time to connect with every player on the team. She’s a great teammate and wonderful representative of our program.”
Tokunaga’s positive attitude and care for her teammates come from her own experience as a younger Hen.
“I think it’s important to be a support system for each other because I know I benefited from that when I was an underclassmen,” Tokunaga said. “I always try to make myself available if the other players need [class advice or] someone to talk to or … run an errand.”
Tokunaga has kept this support system going and made numerous new members of the P-P softball team feel welcome.
“Once we were here [in our first season], she was very excited to welcome us and make sure we knew what we were doing, never missing an opportunity to go the extra mile,” Cockrell said.
Tokunaga also makes her presence felt in the P-P athletic community and serves in roles that go well beyond the playing field.
“Ultimately, she wants what is best for the team, and does as much as she can in various roles,” Cockrell said. “As our other SAAC rep, she also is an important liaison to the community. She’s helped organize Teal Dot sessions specifically for athletes and other events.”
This season, Tokunaga scored two runs in P-P softball’s (3-6, 1-1 SCIAC) most recent 19-6 victory Feb. 13 against the University of Redlands.
Heading into the heart of the season and league play, Tokunaga hopes to leave the program in a better place than when she arrived, and she and her teammates have high hopes for the rest of the season.
“Our goal is to always make it to the tournament,” Tokunaga said. “We haven’t gone since my freshman year, but we believe that if we get to the tournament, anything can happen.”
After countless times throwing the ball, swinging the bat and fielding ground balls, Tokunaga understands that the time remaining she has playing the sport she loves is running low. Yet, her impact is sure to be felt for the rest of the 2015 season as well as the future of P-P softball.
“One thing that struck me recently was when one of my teammates told me that I always look happy on the field, which is the best compliment I’ve heard,” Tokunaga said. “It means that the things I’m trying to do are paying off and affecting other players. Now that it’s my last season and I’ve been playing the sport for fifteen years, it makes me really appreciate every single minute that I’m on the field.”