Hanalani Begins Play In Its First Varsity Baseball Season

Fresh off of a highly successful boys basketball season, Hanalani is breaking new ground this spring by fielding varsity baseball for the first time.

Interest among its student athletes and parents fueled the project, according to athletic director Keoni Haole.

“This is a huge baseball community, and it’s something they’ve been asking about for a long time, so we went and started a program,” he explained. “We’re just really excited about having baseball right now. There’s a different kind of pride in representing your school.”

In the past, Hanalani students wanting to play baseball could try out for Pac-Five’s team. Now the

Royals are one of five Division II teams competing in the ILH, along with Pac-Five, Damien, Maryknoll and Saint Francis.

“It is very unusual, and we are one of only five (playing baseball),” said Haole, who coached Hanalani to an 19-7 record on the basketball court this winter. “Some schools have tried to have one, and it didn’t work out, but we’re excited to get it up and running.”

Brian Tsutsui, who was named ILH DII Coach of the Year last spring at Pac-Five, has taken over Hanalani’s varsity program as head coach.

The Mililani private school drew a tough assignment for its first official ILH varsity game against two-time defending DII state champ Maryknoll March 6, which it lost 11-2. “Not what we had hoped for,” Haole said of the final score, “but Maryknoll is a good team and the favorite to win the state tournament again.”

Hanalani, which has 350 students in grades 7-12, has 16 players on its varsity baseball team and 16 players on its newly formed intermediate team. The school intends to field a JV team down the road.

The varsity team currently practices at Central Oahu Regional Park, with most of its games at Hans L’Orange Park in Waipahu.

“We feel like we have everything in place to compete — quality facilities and a baseball-rich community,” Haole said.

As part of its ILH affiliation, the school also is eligible to compete for a berth in the DII state baseball tournament. The Royals must finish first or second in the regular season to punch their ticket for the postseason.

“We have a 2-of-5 chance to make it,” Haole said.

Hanalani returns to action at 11:30 a.m. Saturday against Maryknoll at Hans L’Orange. Other games at the Waipahu site are against Saint Francis March 24, Damien March 25, Pac-Five March 27, Maryknoll April 2 and Saint Francis April 4. The Royals also face Damien at Ala Wai Field April 7 and Pac-Five April 8 at Goeas Field in Hawaii Kai.