Waipahu Baseball Ranked Fourth So Far In Post-season

The relaxed air that prevails throughout the Waipahu baseball program this summer is definitely by design.

“We want to win, but we also want to make it a fun summer for the kids,” longtime head coach Milton Takenaka said. “The kids are all coming off of an intense spring season, so it hasn’t been a matter of having to win. We just wanted to get into the (post-season) tournament, and then it will be all business.”

The Marauders were 13-4 in American Legion League play (19-and-under division) as of late last week, with two games left in the season. The playoffs begin July 16. Waipahu is the defending Hawaii American Legion League state champion after a strong run at this time last year. It also captured the Division II state title during the spring season in May, but have a different look to their lineup, as a handful of players from nearby Pearl City and Moanalua also are in the fold for the summer.

Recent Waipahu graduates Dylan Sugimoto, Drake Yoshioka and Jarinn Abreu are all back, after being huge contributors in the spring.

“They’re doing well – it’s a little less tense for them than their spring season,” Takenaka said. “Dylan has pitched a lot, but we haven’t needed to pitch Jarinn since we have a lot of arms.”

Also logging big innings this summer are Sumi Pruett, Kai Kealoha and Isaac Shim (all Pearl City 2011); Bryson Yasui and Austyn Nagamine (Moanalua 2012); and Bronson Shim (Moanalua 2011).

Takenaka labeled pitching as Waipahu’s strength this summer.

“We really haven’t hit the ball that well yet, but the kids who have been pitching have been doing well,” he said.

Waipahu found itself in a similar position a year ago, as pitching carried the team into the playoffs before they peaked, offensively, en route to capturing the state tournament.

Waipahu’s 13-4 record placed them fourth in the ALL standings as of late last week, behind Mid-Pacific, Kamehameha and Castle. Campbell and Kalani also have been playing their best baseball of late and could be factors in the post-season.

“There are a lot of good teams, but I think we have a good chance with the kids we have,” Takenaka said.

“Mid-Pac and Kamehameha are always there, and Iolani has been playing well, too. It should be a good tournament.”