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Thursday, December 16, 2004



[ HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETICS ]


Mililani freshman
makes strong start

Having coached Mililani to four consecutive OIA titles from 1999 to 2002 and state-tournament appearances in each of the past six years, Trojan softball head coach Mike Okimoto and his staff know what it takes to get a team ready for the postseason.

Where's HgR?

The Hawaii Grown Report is taking a break. It will return next Thursday.

Just two games into their 2004-05 schedule, the Trojans are well aware that the playoffs are still a long way off. Yet the Trojans also know that they need to pass a number of tests to gauge whether or not they will be ready to compete for a league title come February.

The Trojans passed a couple of early tests yesterday, as freshman Makani Duhaylonsod gutted-out a tough 9-5 complete-game win over Oahu Interscholastic Association Red West contender Pearl City.

Duhaylonsod, a 5-foot-10 right-hander, mixed her pitches and got strong defensive support in posting a win in her first high school start, spacing 10 hits while striking out three.

She also recorded a save in Mililani's season-opening win over Campbell last week.

"I just wanted to get them to hit the ball and let our defense get the outs," Duhaylonsod said. "I tried to focus on making good pitches. It was hard at times, but we pulled through."

Duhaylonsod's mettle was tested early, as the Chargers rallied for two quick runs in the bottom of the first, highlighted by Kanani Numata's solo home run to center field.

The rangy freshman settled down quickly, holding Pearl City scoreless until Lauren Fujisaki's groundout gave the Chargers their third run in the bottom of the fifth.

"I wanted to test Makani and see if she could handle one of the better teams in our league," Okimoto said.

"It's better to find out early in the year if she's got what it takes. We do have Dana (Lee), but we had to find out, and it worked out for us."

After going down in order the first two innings, Mililani cracked the scoreboard in the top of the third, thanks to a clutch double by second baseman Casey Sugihara and a Pearl City error.

Charger designated player Tierra Cuba led the rally with a base on balls, and promptly stole second base.

Sugihara knocked Cuba in with a well-placed hit that landed just inside the left-field line and spun away from Pearl City's Moki Opunui.

Ciera Senas followed with an infield line-out. But the Pearl City infield threw the ball away attempting to double up Sugihara at second, allowing her to tie the game at 2-2.

Mililani put up two more runs in each of the next two innings to pull away to a commanding 6-2 lead, with 2004 All-OIA performer Lee's two-run hit in the top of the fifth providing the biggest blow.

Sugihara, an All-State and All-OIA West honorable mention pick last year, recorded another RBI double in the sixth, to give the Trojans an insurance run.

"It felt good to be able to get that first hit," Sugihara said. "I hadn't been hitting much, so it was good to come through now. But we worked well together to score all those runs. "

Pearl City made a run at Mililani in the bottom of the seventh when Nishikida and Shanna Vierra led off by reaching base on a walk and a base hit. After an Aina groundout to second advanced both runners a base, Fujisaki grounded to short to plate Nishikida for the Chargers' fourth run of the game. Opunui followed with a flyout to center for an RBI to make it 9-5 Mililani.


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Baldwin coach leaves
for Weber State

In the end, Chad Kauha'aha'a wanted his players to learn first-hand, not in the newspaper.

But even then, when Weber State moved plans up a day earlier, its newest assistant coach had to board a red-eye flight Tuesday -- Kahului to Honolulu to Las Vegas to Salt Lake City. And then, a drive to Ogden.

Such is the new life for the former Baldwin head coach, who agreed Monday to join his former coach, Ron McBride, at the Division I-AA school.

"Opportunities like this don't come very often," the Baldwin graduate said.

Kauha'aha'a asked that his coaching staff have a chance to talk with the team before any story ran in the paper.

"I didn't get to talk to my boys," he said Tuesday night.

Kauha'aha'a guided Baldwin to two Maui Interscholastic League championships in three seasons with a run-and-shoot offense that tilted the run-oriented MIL. Baldwin finished a close second to Lahainaluna this fall and was the only team besides Saint Louis to put a blemish on the record of state champion Kamehameha, playing the Warriors to a 14-all tie in August.

Kauha'aha'a enters the high tide of recruiting season as Weber State's defensive line coach and its most active link to Hawaii prospects. While he was head coach at Utah, McBride always had a strong recruiting pipeline in the islands, and that will likely increase now that he's running a program again.

Kauha'aha'a played defensive end at Utah under McBride.



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