Pressure’s On For Pearl City Baseball Standout In Summer

A relaxed air usually prevails within the American Legion League in the summer. For Tanner Tokunaga, that’s not really the case this time, however.

The Pearl City senior-to-be’s approach to his baseball development isn’t without a sense of urgency, after all – albeit in a healthy way.

“This summer is big for me,” said Tokunaga, who was an OIA First Team All-Conference pick as an outfielder this past spring. “A lot of the scouts don’t have time to watch us during the season. Some are going to come and watch me this summer, so I want to do well. I’ve been thinking about playing college baseball since I was little.”

Tokunaga, who is competing with Waipahu Baseball in ALL (see accompanying story), also is juggling football work-outs, as well as attending a PSAT class at Iolani School weekday mornings.

“I usually wake up at 6:45, and then I go and lift weights,” he said. “I leave the house at 9:30 to go to class at Iolani, and after I get home around 1, I go and hit (baseballs) into the net. Then, I go to football practice.”

Tokunaga is a slot back for the Chargers, but his time with them is limited this summer by design. That will change at the end of July, when the football team officially begins fall camp.

“My (football) coaches understand that I’m trying to focus on baseball this summer, so they let me go out when I can,” said Tokunaga, who had 44 receptions for 687 yards and five touchdowns last fall as a slot back.

Extra work on the baseball diamond has continued to pay off for Tokunaga, whose older brother, Tyler, is a standout on the Hawaii Pacific University baseball team. Tanner is currently batting over .500 for his Waipahu ALL team.

“Tanner is our best hitter right now,” said Waipahu assistant coach Jared Abreau. “He’s our spark plug; he’s our No. 1. He makes things happen.”

Tokunaga attributes some extra hitting practice to his seeing the ball well at the plate this summer. “My dad and uncle (Gary Tokunaga) help me a lot,” he said. “We go out and hit on our own every Sunday. My dad pitches to me, and my uncle watches my swing and tells me what’s wrong. He played two years at the University of Washington.”

If all goes according to plan, Tokunaga and Waipahu hope to be playing into August, when the ALL Regional tournament will take place in Oregon. “We’re a pretty close team,” he said. “Most of us have played together or against each other since we were little. We’re looking pretty good, so hopefully we can make it.”