Waipahu Baseball Team To Follow Pitcher Sugimoto’s Lead

As the Waipahu baseball team prepares for another highly anticipated spring season, there’s no doubt about who sets the pace at the team’s daily workouts.

That role has fallen to senior pitcher Dylan Sugimoto, who was named OIA Red West Player of the Year for his efforts last spring. Sugimoto recently committed to play for San Jose State University following his prep career.

Indeed, there isn’t much Sugimoto won’t be asked to do, according to head coach Jared Abreu, who took over the program from the legendary Milton Takenaka over the summer.

“We’re going to ride his arm and his back,” Abreu said of Sugimoto, who went 6-1 in games versus OIA teams last season. “We’ll depend on him a lot. He’s our leadoff man also (in the batting order). Being that this is his fourth year on the varsity, we’ll depend on his maturity and his leadership. We ask everything of him. He’s a lot more vocal than he was as a freshman.”

Sugimoto is tutored during the off-season by Brendan Sagara, who is a longtime pitching coach in the Tampa Bay Devil Rays’ organization.

Sugimoto’s return is hardly the only reason the Marauders are anticipating a big year. The Marauders went 8-4 in the ultra-competitive Red West Conference last spring, their first in Division I, and also earned a berth in the Wally Yonamine Foundation State Tournament.

Waipahu’s success in recent years also has fueled more interest in a community never short on baseball talent, as Abreu will field a roster numbering 25 this spring.

“We have a mixture of all grade levels, including a couple of freshmen we think are suited to play at this (varsity) level,” he said.

Among the veterans is third baseman Tyler Enos, who was named a Red West Second Team All-Star selection last spring in a vote by league coaches at season’s end.

“He’s our big stick,” Abreu said of Enos. “He also pitches for us. He’s not vocal – he just goes about his business. He does what he’s asked. He’s a silent leader.”

Developing its depth amongst the pitching staff has been a high priority for Waipahu in their early-season workouts, according to Abreu.

“Dylan can’t pitch every game,” laughed Abreu. “We need to find others who can step in and supplement him.”

Abreu and Waipahu are on Maui this week to take part in the Baldwin Pre-Season Tournament. The Marauders meet Kamehameha-Maui Thursday. Games with Lahainaluna and Maui High follow for Waipahu Friday and Saturday, respectively. Waipahu’s OIA Red West opener is set for March 5, when the Marauders host Leilehua.

In addition to stellar competition, Abreu is hoping this week’s tournament will help promote the Marauders’ team unity.

“We need the kids to all get along,” he said. “We always make sure they know each other before we put them on the field together, that’s why we take trips and have fundraisers. Even in the summer, we emphasize getting along. It’s been going well, and that comes from our senior leadership. Our (seven) seniors all lead by example.”