Favelas fueled UH-Hilo’s nation-leading double-plays

Joe Poellot/ via UH-Hilo Sports Information From left are Steven, Bobbie, Jayda, Trinity, Elisa and Esteban Favela.
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It’s been a month since the UH-Hilo softball team wrapped up its 2023 season with a home sweep of HPU, marking the last time Vulcans second baseman Trinity Favela stepped onto a softball field as a collegiate athlete.

Since that last hurrah in late April, Favela was named the Pacific West Conference Defender of the Year after garnering a perfect conference play fielding percentage — notching 69 putouts and 60 assists.

She also contributed to 19 double plays for a team total of 28, a mark which ranks second-best in the NCAA Division II. The Vulcans lead DII in double plays per game with 0.68.

An equal number of contributed double plays were also provided by her middle-infield teammate and younger sister Jayda Favela. The two teamed up together 11 times on double plays this season.

“(Jayda) does all these crazy plays,” Trinity said. “She levels me up and I’m like, ‘OK, I got to do just as good as her,’ because she’s flying all over the field.”

The 2023 team also featured another Favela — eldest sister Elisa Favela, who coached her first season as an assistant with the Vulcans.

Jayda was the first to arrive to the Big Island from ‘Ewa Beach on Oahu, and had a stellar freshman year starting all 37 games while leading the team in hits and runs to earn 2022 PacWest Conference Freshman of the Year and All-PacWest First Team honors.

The Vulcans made an early trip to Oahu that season for games against HPU and Chaminade. Through those six games in late February, Jayda batted .300 on six hits and recorded a 1.000 fielding percentage on 13 putouts and 13 assists — a big enough performance to light a flame under older sister Trinity.

After beginning her collegiate career at Saint Martin’s University (Washington) in 2019, homesickness eventually got the best of Trinity as she later returned home and took one step further by deciding to step away from the game.

“My whole family — everything is about softball and athletics,” Trinity said, “but growing up, school was my thing and I kind of leaned more toward education than I did softball. Softball was just my way of getting into college.”

Trinity remained on Oahu and attended UH-Manoa, but after watching her younger sister in a Vulcans uniform, Trinity jumped at the opportunity to play out her final year of eligibility.

It wasn’t until just before the start of the spring 2023 season when eldest sister Elisa would join the Favela sisters in Hilo. Elisa had also made a prior-decision on her softball future; believing aspirations to be a coach were now behind her in the past.

Elisa played a decorated career with numerous individual accolades during her time at Campbell High School, Bossier Parish Community College (Louisiana) and Southern Arkansas University. After a stint coaching at the high school level, Elisa felt she was ready to move on to the next chapter in life.

But when the opportunity arose, she too made a return to softball.

“I wanted to coach but then I got out of that phase and was over it,” Elisa said. “I just wanted to relax and focus on everything else, but then this opportunity came about and I was like, ‘OK this my time and I have to go for it.’”

The Favela sisters started all 41 games this season with Jayda at shortstop and Trinity at second base. Elisa served as pitching coach and at first base.

In Trinity’s first live-action at the Alumni Game, she made a diving defensive play to flash the leather and show off that she still had it. Truly fitting for the future defensive player of the year.

“I would have never thought about getting coached by my sister,” Trinity said. “I don’t think that’s something that happens and I’m really grateful that this year is my last year.”