Friday, May 7, 2004


UH second baseman Isaac Omura has raised his batting average to .318 after a slow start.

Omura has recovered
from early problems

Isaac Omura had the presence of mind to step back and refocus earlier this season when events in his baseball world were not going the way he expected.

Rice at Hawaii

When: Today and tomorrow, 6:35 p.m.; Sunday, 1:05 p.m.

Where: Murakami Stadium

TV: All games live, KFVE, Channel 5

Radio: All games live, KKEA, 1420-AM

Tickets: $6 Orange, Blue levels. $5 Red level. $4 Seniors, children age 4-18, UH students in the Red level.

Parking: $3

Omura was coming off a freshman season with the Hawaii baseball team in which he hit .301 and was an honorable-mention selection on the Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America team.

He enjoyed a productive summer playing every day against college pitching for the Santa Barbara (Calif.) Foresters. Fall practice at UH was just as positive.

But the second baseman got off to a terrible start at the plate when the 'Bows began their season, then twisted his right ankle rounding first base and missed some games.

"I was really hoping to improve on last year a lot. I think I let that get to me in the early going," Omura said. "I kind of realized that is how this game goes sometimes. I learned to take the good with the bad.

"I decided to just concentrate on going out and playing every day, play my game and not worry about what (statistics) was on paper."

Omura played in 11 of the first 25 games. He wasn't even hitting his weight (he's listed at 174 pounds on a 5-foot-9 frame) when he got the start in the second game at Louisiana Tech and went 3-for-4 with a double and two runs batted in. He duplicated that effort in the finale the next day at LaTech.

Since Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso put the Mid-Pacific Institute graduate back in the lineup, he has been hitting at a .420 clip (21-for-50) and raised his average to .318. His average in Western Athletic Conference games is .378, second best on the team.

"In the whole scheme of things, that learning experience will be of great use to Isaac. The rough start was a combination of pressing too hard and the ankle injury," Trapasso said. "Since then, he has been swinging (the bat) so well, hitting the ball on the nose."

Despite his hot-hitting streak, Omura is constantly looking for ways to improve. He said he is not blessed with great speed, so he has worked on getting quick starts out of the batter's box and away from bases to compensate.

When he went to Santa Barbara his goal was to reduce how often he is overmatched by pitchers. The left-hand hitter knows that with No. 3 Rice in town, he faces one of the best college pitching staffs in the country.

"The first time you see those guys and they are on, it's almost like you are stuck," Omura said. "After the first at-bat, you know what to expect. It is up to you to make that adjustment you need to compensate for their velocity and control."

Isaac Omura

Favorite food: Canned salmon with rice and Tabasco sauce
Favorite TV show: "Late Night with Conan O'Brien"
Favorite actor: Will Ferrell
Hobby: Trying to learn to play the guitar
Likes: To golf and spend time at the beach
Quote: "I've been blessed with coaches from Little League on up who have helped me develop my love for the game of baseball."

Omura was named to one of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu all-star teams each of his three varsity seasons at MPI. He was recruited by Hawaii Pacific and San Francisco, but chose the Rainbow program.

"I kind of wanted to stay home so my parents could watch me and Hawaii has great weather for baseball all year," said Omura, who found the transition from prep to college ball big.

"Everybody is so much stronger, physically bigger. You really have to work hard to be somebody in college and I know I still have a lot of work to do," Omura said.

He credits MPI coach Dunn Muramaru with helping him focus on what it takes to compete in college baseball and for having a well-structured weight-training program.

Omura takes a lot of pride in his defense, how he positions himself and gets to the spot quickly where he can field the ball and set himself to make an accurate throw.

"Defense for me is something I can't practice enough. I make sure I'm fundamentally sound defensively, because defense wins games or keeps you in them," Omura said. "I really enjoy playing with the guys in the infield and I'm impressed with what we have done this year."

He is not an outwardly emotional player, although he will flash a smile when something good comes from his efforts.

"I like to think I'm a calm player, not emotionally high or low," Omura said. "I like to go over every night after the game to analyze what I've done so I know what I need to work on."

He plans to major in psychology and take science courses to prepare for his long-range goal -- dental school.


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