Keahilele Mattson: Fulfilling two dreams in one town


Marcos Acosta/The Collegian

Keahilele Mattson bats for the Bulldogs against Iowa State in the 2023 Bulldog Classic.

By Alexis Bruno, Reporter

Keahilele Mattson has always had an interest in agriculture. So when she found out that she could pursue an agriculture business bachelor’s degree while playing softball at Fresno State, she was set. 

“I’m really huge on agriculture, and it was really important for me to get a degree out of coming here also,” Mattson said. 

Back in Hawaii, her grandparents own a coffee farm, a place she plans to work at after finishing her career as a Bulldog. 

Her ultimate goal is to become a professional softball player or to play at the Olympics.

Mattson plays softball when she was younger. (Courtesy of Gina Mattson)

Mattson grew up in a family of four with her parents, Gina and Keiki, and her older sister, Keiane. Her mother shared with The Collegian how they guide Mattson through her career goals and desires. 

“Her dad and I try to enforce her work ethic in her and, of course, her faith is a big part,” said Gina by phone.

This season, Keahilele has been a driving force for the ‘Bulldogs, but her journey with softball started well before all her athletic achievements here. Her family moved to Alta Loma, California from Hawaii and that is where she first found her passion for softball.

“It was kind of a family thing, so my sister actually started playing before me and ever since she started, when I was little I used to have this foam bat and that’s pretty much where everything started,” Mattson said.

Not only did her sister play, but her parents played ball as well, which was influential to Mattson. 

She played at Alta Loma High School in 2017, where her early success started. During her freshman year, she was named the team’s Rookie of the Year. 

“We knew right away that she had a lot of potential for this sport,” said Gina. 

Mattson’s pictures playing for the Rancho Cucamonga Ace softball. (Courtesy of Gina Mattson)

Throughout high school, Keahilele batted .532 or above accumulating a .547 batting average, .594 on-base percentage and 1.044 slugging average. This earned her a three-time All-Palomares selection and a three-time MVP selection.

Approaching her senior year, Keahilele took on the role of team captain on the field that would translate into the future of her career.

In 2021, Mattson ventured to Fresno State to play softball as a Bulldog. Once again, her growth quickly continued with a breakout season her freshman year.

Mattson took on the left field position where she played 48 games as a first time collegiate athlete. She excelled greatly on defense, but stood out even more on offense, where she led the ‘Dogs in numbers. 

She had a total of 41 RBIs, 12 home runs, 10 doubles and tied for most hits on the team with 49 during her first season. 

“[It’s] quality over quantity. What I see that’s successful I try to keep, and I try to mimic the same thing of just coming in the cages every day,” Keahilele said. 

She continued to dominate every pitch thrown her way, closing out that season racking up more accolades. She accumulated Mountain West Player of the Year, Co-Freshman of the Year, All-Mountain West First Team and NFCA-All Region Second Team titles.

Mattson said that her mentality and mindset have been a challenge on the field. Despite these obstacles, she finds ways to still have success at the plate.   

“Thoughts that I think of is just to keep it simple, looking for quality pitches and just trying to attack those early in the count,” she said. 

That technique showed to be working for Keahilele, going into her second season in 2022 when she started 49 games.

Young Mattson wearing catchers gear. (Courtesy of Gina Mattson)

She finished the season with a .305 batting average, second most hits on the team with 43, had 11 doubles, three triples and five home runs. She also chalked up team highs of 29 walks and 31 runs. 

Apart from her being a well-rounded player, she also brings out a “competitive” and “consistent” presence on the field as a teammate. 

Fresno State head coach Stacy May-Johnson shared what kind of player she is. 

“Same player shows up, you never wonder which one is going to show up, it’s always the same person,” she said. “She’s always ready to play and always ready to win.” 

Now, she is in her third collegiate season and has started 28 games, already seeing several achievements to her name.

On Feb. 14, Mattson gained her second career Mountain West Player of the Week at the Lynn Russell Classic. She opened with an .800 batting average, six RBIs, seven runs scored and two home runs. 

While she is helping her team to victories, her parents are alongside in the stands watching her become a leader.

“We try to get to as many games as we can, so we will drive especially to her home games,” Gina said. 

The journey continues for Keahilele, accomplishing two dreams in the Central Valley, playing softball and learning agriculture.  

With one year remaining, she will continue to approach her future with faith planted in her, while also enjoying the present.