Friday, May 12, 2000
The Rainbows will end theRealAudio: 'Net broadcast Click Here
season and bid farewell to players
after a weekend series
By Al Chase
JAMIE Aloy, Darin Baker, Randon Ho, Rory Pico, Rich Snider, Sean Takamori and Kenn Wakakuwa finish their collegiate baseball careers this weekend.
The seven seniors have played for the University of Hawaii Rainbows anywhere from two to five years. They have experienced good times, not-so good times, highlights and disappointments.
All seven are on track to graduate within the next year.
In fact, Pico graduates Sunday afternoon, then hopes the wrap and huge brace on his gimpy left knee allows him to take the field the same day in the season finale against the University of Hawaii-Hilo. The three-game series starts tonight with the second game tomorrow.
Between them, the seven seniors have appeared in 750 games, gone to bat 1,860 times, scored 414 runs, collected 599 hits, driven in 307 teammates, pitched 774° innings, struck out 505 opponents and compiled a 55-51 won-loss record.
Three more games and that's it.
"I guess this year went by pretty fast. I didn't expect it to. I just want to go out with a win," said Takamori.
"The last couple of days I have been thinking about it a lot," said Baker. "It's a little depressing. I guess it's back to the beer leagues at the softball park."
"Three more games. What can I say. I'll just make the most of them," said Aloy.
"It would be a lot better if it was for something for us to go on, but can't do anything about that now," said Snider, a 5-foot-10 right-hander from Ada, Okla.
"Right now, I'm just trying to do everything I can to get into a game this week. I don't want to go out sitting on the bench," Pico said.
The 5-8 shortstop from Ewa probably had the most inauspicious debut of all the seniors. He made his first college pitching appearance against Miami in the second game of the 1997 season. Pico gave up a home run to future No. 1 draft pick Pat Burrell, then struck out the next two Hurricanes.
"I was just trying to help his draft status," said Pico, a sociology major. He is debating whether to attend graduate school or go job hunting.
Ho, from Aiea, will approach his starting assignment tomorrow as just another game.
"I don't want to pressure myself out. I'm just hoping for the best," said the 5-10 left-hander.
It took 73 games for Ho to pitch a game he called a career highlight. That was last week against the Vulcans when he fanned a career-high 12 batters. More importantly, it came when his parents made their first road trip to watch him perform.
Aloy recalled his standout moment as a pitcher. He was the closer the night Hawaii head coach Les Murakami won his 1,000th game in 1998, a 6-5 victory over Fresno State .
"I knew it (No. 1,000) was a possibility, but it was just another game until it was over," said Aloy.
Kenn Wakakuwa hasn't thought much about this final weekend.
"I just hope we can go out on a good note, have a good series," the therapeutic recreation major from Hilo said.
Probably the most versatile and talented athlete among the seniors, Wakakuwa played more than he expected his freshman year, but needed a year in Oklahoma to discover the necessary academic focus.
"Moving to Seminole State my sophomore year was a surprise, but it was a good one. It worked out the best for me," said the 5-10 catcher/infielder.
"The best part was just playing in front of family, friends and the home crowd. It's a lot different than playing on the mainland where no one knows you."
Baker, from Fallon, Nev., knows what he will miss most.
"Not being able to come out and play with these guys. That's the main thing," said the 6-2 outfielder, who has battled a shoulder injury and tendinitis.
Snider, a sociology major, said, "I made a lot of good friends here. That was the biggest thing. And I got away from home.
"It's been a frustrating season. We started off No. 1 in the WAC and couldn't do anything else after that. If we won this weekend, it would ease the wounds a little bit, I guess."
Baker also is majoring in sociology and would like to do something in the criminal justice system after graduation.
He points to a 1999 series as his highlight.
"When we got the fans in here for the Wichita State series, it made a lot of difference to the team," he said.
"For the team, that was the most intense series and we ended up sweeping Wichita State when they were No. 1," said Takamori, who lives in Honolulu.
"For me, it was the first Rice series this year. I never had a series like that."
The 5-9 right fielder was 9-for-12 against the Owls.
"I have no regrets about playing here. I got to play Division I baseball in one of the best places to play. Even though we didn't do too well this year, we had a good time and learned our lessons."
Takamori is majoring in psychology. He wants to go to graduate school with the goal of becoming a child psychologist.
Aloy is majoring in pre-education with an emphasis on English. He expects to teach and coach eventually. Snider also would like to get into coaching. Ho wants to attend law school.
Ka Leo O Hawaii