If you listen to coach Corey Ishigo tell it, you'd think his Kailua baseball team was the worst team since the game was invented.
big hill to climb
By Nick Abramo
"This is the laziest group of kids I've had since I started coaching," the former University of Hawaii player said. "They don't like baseball. They're athletic -- that's the only good thing I can say about them. But baseball is not their first love, and for some of them, it's not even their second love."
Ishigo, in his fifth year at Kailua, led the Surfriders to the last three Oahu Interscholastic Association titles and to the state championship two years ago.
But other coaches aren't buying Ishigo's comments, even though Kailua lost 10 seniors to graduation.
"They always struggle at the beginning of the season," Roosevelt coach Kerry Higa said. "Then he tears them apart and rebuilds them for the OIAs and the states. They never look good until the end of the season and the playoffs. He tells us they're not very good every year. It used to have an effect on us, but not any more."
When pressed for something positive, Ishigo talked about senior captains Shaun Sasaki, a second baseman, and Bronson Ho, a first baseman, as two of his top guys.
Ishigo thinks Roosevelt and Kalaheo are among the toughest teams in the OIA East.
"Roosevelt has the pitching and can hit, and Kalaheo has a lot of returnees," he said.
The Rough Riders have a solid transfer in pitcher Kaimi Mead from Saint Louis and a power-hitting returnee in Cameron Kimura, who can also pitch.
Mead, a lefty, has already signed with Hawaii and has gotten looks from pro scouts.
"He's a hard worker and a good example for the other guys on the team," Higa said.
Brothers Ivan Fujii, a senior shortstop, and Kevin Fujii, a sophomore catcher, are among the Rough Riders' leaders along with junior left-handed pitcher Ricky Eusebio.
Higa sees Kalaheo, Kahuku, Kailua and Castle as East contenders and thinks Aiea, Mililani and Pearl City will fight it out in the West.
The OIA season starts today with a full slate of games.
Milestone for Watanuki: Campbell baseball coach Lane Watanuki is starting his 20th season, and he thinks the Sabers will be competitive in the OIA West.
He's looking to outfielders Bill Tennent and Alii Basham and infielders Prentiss Anderson and Jason Scholl -- all senior returnees --for leadership.
Watanuki is impressed with defending West champion Aiea.
"Most of their kids played ball in the summer and stayed intact, and they looked real tough at Castle's preseason tournament" Watanuki said. "Mililani and Pearl City have both looked good in the preseason, and I know Waianae's going to be tough."
Watanuki has noticed Leilehua has made big strides since pitcher Ryan Basco came over from Mid-Pacific.
The Sabers coach likes the contrasting styles in the OIA.
"The East is like the American League and we're like the National," he said. "The Kailuas and the Kahukus don't do anything fancy. They go up and bash it. The Aieas, the Mililanis and the Pearl Citys in the West try to manufacture runs."
Castle seeks coaches: Castle is seeking applicants for the following coaching positions: girls varsity volleyball and wrestling; boys varsity soccer and wrestling, and varsity cheerleading. Send resumes to 45-386 Kaneohe Bay Drive, Kaneohe, HI 96744. Deadline is April 2.
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Athletes of the Week
BOYS>> Kahiwa Letman, Iolani baseball: Drove in the winning run in the bottom of the seventh in a 5-4 victory over Punahou. He hit a two-run homer in the game, and he also drilled a homer and drove in three runs in a win over Damien.
GIRLS>> Mei Li Nickles, Mililani track and field: Won the 100-meter dash, the high jump, the long jump and triple jump at the George Yamamoto Invitational at Mililani. She was named the outstanding female athlete at the meet.
BASKETBALL>> Pikake Nutter-Gaudet, Leilehua: Scored 28 points in a loss to Mililani.
>> Tereva Moore, Radford: Scored 12 of her team's 35 points as the Rams beat Waianae.
>> Patti Hardimon and Kepua Lee, Moanalua: Both scored 18 points in a win over Kaiser.
>> Jamie Kua, Campbell: Scored 17 points in a victory over Nanakuli.
>> Dalia Solia, Kaimuki: Notched 22 points in a win over Kalani.
>> Becky Hogue, Punahou: Averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds in wins over Sacred Hearts and Maryknoll. She also had a total of seven assists and five steals.
TRACK AND FIELD>> Carly Killam, Punahou: Won the 200 and 400, anchored the winning 1,600 relay team and was part of the winning 400 relay team at the Ralph Martinson Invitational at Punahou.
>> Elizabeth Schall, Radford: Earned wins in the 800, 1,500 and 3,000 at the Velasco Invitational.
>> Waika Spencer, Kamehameha: Won the long jump, triple jump and high jump at the Martinson Invitational.
BASEBALL>> Ryson Mauricio, Kamehameha: Drove in three runs in a win over Pac-Five.
>> Elijah Souza and Chase Masuda, Damien: Souza hit a homer and Masuda went the distance on the mound in an upset of Mid-Pacific. Masuda also got the victory against Maryknoll.
>> Ryan Sasaki, Saint Louis: Connected for a three-run homer in a win over Maryknoll.
>> Issac Kamai, Kamehameha: Pitched a complete-game 4-1 victory over Punahou.
GOLF>> Jon Ozaki, Mid-Pacific: Shot a 70 to take medalist honors at an ILH meet.
>> Kayla Morinaga, Sacred Hearts: Won medalist honors at an ILH meet with a 72.
To nominate an athlete of the week, contact the Star-Bulletin Sports Department by 11 p.m. Sunday:
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