Kapolei Baseball Team Preps To Open OIA Season Friday

For the Kapolei baseball team, it’s hard not to look at this spring as an opportunity to finish some unfinished business. The Hurricanes were only a game away from a firstever appearance at the state tournament last season, after all, and return a solid group of veterans this time around.

“That’s our ultimate goal to make the state tournament,” said head coach Tom Ebanez, whose team went 7-5 last season. “We want to get into the regular season and be playing well when the OIA playoffs begin.”

Kapolei opens its OIA season Friday when it visits Aiea at 3:30 p.m. (The teams meet again at 2 p.m.

Saturday at Kapolei.) Should the Hurricanes go on to have the season they project, they will likely look back on team unity as a contributing factor, according to Ebanez, who made it a priority during the offseason and preseason to cultivate a close-knit group.

“The most encouraging thing I’ve seen is that the guys have gelled together,” he said. “From the young guys, who are sophomores, to the seniors, they all push each other to work harder. There’s a lot of cohesiveness with this team, and that makes me proud.”

Kapolei traveled to Maui in mid-February for a preseason tournament as yet another way of developing closeness. “One of the reasons we went was to have them come together and work as a team, and that had happened before we’d even left. I’m real proud of them for taking it upon themselves.”

Ebanez also will have one of the more seasoned teams of his tenure at Kapolei with a trio of fouryear varsity players back in the fold in Trey Kamachi, William Leskovec and Joshua Simmons. Until their arrival, former standout Aaron Santiago (2006) had been the only player to spend all four years on the varsity.

“It’s going to be a sad day when I have to say goodbye to those three,” he noted.

Kamachi enters 2012 as one of the most highly regarded prep players in the state, having already signed on to play at Arizona State next year. The ace on the Kapolei pitching staff, he’ll play shortstop when not on the mound. “Trey’s a hard worker,” Ebanez said of Kamachi, who will usually hit third in the lineup. “He’s always looking for things in his game to improve. He never settles. Our motto here this year is doing it better than the last time, and he’s a great example of that.”

Leskovec will hold down a spot at catcher, meanwhile, while Simmons is slated to be at first base. “(Leskovec) is a very nice boy, whose strength is his leadership. He’s also in student government and a National Honors Society student. He works hard, and it shows. You need a leader as your catcher, and he’s a great guy to have back there.

“Joshua has been in the program for four years like the others, so he knows what the expectations are here. They all live it, and they lead by example.”

Ebanez is also expecting big things from seniors Robbie Depp and Jared Ragasa. Depp, who has already signed to play at Norfolk State next year, is in his second year with the team after transferring from Virginia and will be the team’s designated hitter when not in right field. Ragasa will play second and shortstop.