H A W A I I _ S P O R T S


Friday, March 23, 2001


Wizard of HPU
masterful at shortstop

By Brandon Lee

Call Hawaii Pacific shortstop Bryce Uegawachi a young wizard -- he's magical with his glove and swings a decent-size bat in place of a wand.

In fact, Sonoma State coach John Goelz has already done so, after seeing Uegawachi -- a 5-foot-6, switch-hitting senior out of Kaiser High -- play for three-plus seasons against his team.

Goelz should know. He played collegiately against the Wizard, Ozzie Smith, widely recognized as the best defensive shortstop ever to play the game. And Goelz says Uegawachi not only reminds him of the man that went on to star for the Padres and Cardinals, but may even be better at the same stage.

The Sonoma State skipper is not the only opposing coach to give rave reviews of Uegawachi, according to HPU coach Allan Sato.

"The comment from every coach that comes to play us is that we have something special (in Uegawachi)," Sato said. "They leave wanting to trade their shortstop for ours and take Bryce home with them."

He started at second base for most of his freshman year, before permanently taking over arguably the most difficult defensive position his sophomore year.

Uegawachi has totaled 381 career assists to just 33 errors, and has a career .945 fielding percentage. In 26 games this year, he has 81 assists and a .951 percentage, with just six errors.

"At HPU we've been blessed with a lot of good shortstops," said Sato, who is in his sixth year as coach and also pitched for the Sea Warriors from 1983 to '86. "We had a great one when I was playing, in Les Akeo. I know I'm going out on a limb, but with Bryce's cat-like quickness and overall ability, he's probably the best."

Uegawachi also makes a strong contribution on offense, batting lead-off. Though not known for his offense when he came to HPU, Uegawachi's batting average jumped nearly 100 points from his sophomore year to .368 when he assumed the lead-off spot last season.

This season, Uegawachi is batting .396 and making opposing pitchers work, by drawing a team-high 24 walks. He gets on base more than half the time he goes to the plate (.513 percentage) and can bring in some runs as well (20 RBIs).

Uegawachi's 98 career runs scored is tied for third all-time at HPU, while his 136 hits ranks fourth.

"Lifting (weights) a little more and realizing (that) my responsibility is to get on base helped a lot," Uegawachi said of his development at the plate. "Once (opposing pitchers) know you're being patient, they know they've got to throw good pitches to get you out."

It's Uegawachi's development into a complete player that leads Sato to believe that some major-league team will take a chance on him in the next amateur draft, possibly in the later rounds.

"(Professional baseball) is a goal of mine," said Uegawachi. "Because of my size, I know I won't be a first-round pick or anything. But it would be an honor to play because not too many people get the chance."

Uegawachi has at least 18 games left with the Sea Warriors.

HPU (16-10) is riding a nine-game winning streak, but faces some of its toughest competition of the year next in the Rainbow Easter Tournament, which begins Monday and concludes the following Sunday.

The University of Hawaii will serve as host, and participants include Wichita State, San Jose State and Lewis-Clark State.


HPU ranked No. 17: Hawaii Pacific was ranked No. 17 in the first regular-season National Fastpitch Coaches Association NCAA Division II poll released March 14.

Unfortunately for the Sea Warriors (26-2), their 15-game winning streak came to an end with a 5-0 loss in the second game of a doubleheader Tuesday against Division I San Diego. Brigham Young-Hawaii, Chaminade and Hawaii-Hilo will join HPU as it looks to rebound at the Cal State Hayward tournament in Fremont, Calif., today through Sunday.

Hawaii Pacific

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