Slowly But Surely, Surfriders Are Stepping Up To The Plate

The first two weeks of OIA play have already guaranteed Kailua High will have a well-seasoned team by the time the baseball playoffs arrive. Indeed, with all four of their regular-season games to date decided by a run, close encounters have become a way of life.

“It will help (in the future) – especially in games when you are down and have to come back,” said coach Corey Ishigo. “It’s good to have the experience of playing in the close games.”

Kailua opened its season recently by beating Castle 7-6 (on the road) and 2-1 (at home) to sweep the series. The Surfriders then split a series with Moanalua, winning 5-4 (away) and losing 2-1 (at home) to account for their early 3-1 record. They were to play a doubleheader at Kalani over the weekend before turning their attention to this Saturday’s twin bill at 11 a.m. at Kahuku.

Given the parity in the East, Kailua’s ability to win the close games may also translate into another league crown, although Ishigo still sees his team as a work in progress.

“We still need work on everything,” he said. “Our attitude also has to be better at practice. Our pitching has been steady, but even there, we’ve still had some walks and we haven’t been hitting. Our team average is at .270, which is low for us.”

Ishigo has special praise for seniors Eli Davidann and Kaipo OamildaScholtz. Davidann took a 1-0 record into his start last weekend versus Kalani, while Oamilda-Scholtz has been perhaps the league’s most versatile player this spring, playing everywhere he’s asked. Both are hitting about .467, according to Ishigo, to top the team.

“It’s good to have him play different places because he’s athletic,” Ishigo said of OamildaScholtz. “We’ve played him at second and third and first base, and we had him at third in the preseason. He’ll play any position and bat anywhere in the (hitting) order. He’s just happy to play at Kailua.

“Eli’s been hitting for us, driving in runs and getting on base,” Ishigo added of Davidann. “They’ve been our most consistent so far.”

Among the changes in prep baseball this year is a shift exclusively to BBCOR bats, which are composite bats made with the same aluminum exterior as the standard aluminum bats but have a “woven” graphite wall on the inside. (All levels of college baseball switched exclusively to BBCOR bats for the 2011 season.) Balls hit by a BBCOR bat are thought by many to travel slower from the point of contact.

Ishigo has noticed an impact, although he acknowledged “we are only four games in. The power numbers are down for triples and home runs and the extra base hits,” he said. “I think that’s why we are seeing onerun games. You can’t out-slug everybody anymore. You have to have defense and pitching.”

Following Saturday’s double-header with Kahuku, Kailua’s regular season will center around four remaining games. It hosts Roosevelt April 6 before playing a road game against the Rough Riders the following day at Stevenson Intermediate. Kailua travels to Kaiser for a key game April 12 before returning home the following day to host the Cougars in their Red East finale.