Rainbows start off with series vs. Aztecs
Trapasso says he has lots of speed and power options
THE FIFTH year of the Mike Trapasso era as Hawaii baseball coach begins tomorrow with a reloaded roster and a demanding 56-game schedule that starts with four games against San Diego State.
The Rainbows are coming off three consecutive winning seasons, but have yet to reach postseason play under Trapasso.
SAN DIEGO STATE AT HAWAII
When: Tomorrow, Thursday and Friday, 6:35 p.m.; Saturday, 1:05 p.m.
Where: Les Murakami Stadium
TV: Tomorrow and Friday, live, KFVE, Ch. 5
Radio: Tomorrow and Friday, live, KKEA, 1420-AM
Tickets: $7 orange and blue sections; $6 red section; $5 seniors, and $3 students ages 4-18, UH students in the red section.
The 'Bows were picked second in the Western Athletic Conference preseason coaches poll. They can enjoy postseason play if they are among six teams (out of seven) to qualify for the WAC tournament, which will be held for the first time since 1999.
The pitching staff, where defense starts, will have a slightly more balanced look this year with four left-handers -- Mark Rodrigues, Ian Harrington, Myles Ioane and Jeffrey Soskin -- on the roster.
"Harrington, Rodrigues and Ioane have all been throwing well and we could very well start three left-handers in a series," Trapasso said. "Soskin is a situational lefty who could be a great fit in our park because of his changeup."
There are 10 right-handers led by closer Darrell Fisherbaugh and Steven Wright, who will move to a starting role this year. Both are on the preseason All-WAC team.
Trapasso will start Wright, Harrington and Rodrigues in the opening series against the Aztecs (coached by former San Diego Padres star Tony Gwynn), with returnees Justin Costi, Rich Olsen or junior college transfer Tyler Davis getting the start in the fourth game.
"Tyler has been the most consistent in the fall and spring. He is a three-pitch,
strike thrower and very competitive. He can start or relieve and will remind people of Clary Carlsen," Trapasso said.
Keahi Rawlins, whose recovery from Tommy John surgery progressed quicker than expected, is in the mix. He faced batters for the first time on Jan. 21.
Matthew Daly, Dean Turner, Jayson Kramer and Daniel Caldwell will fill the long- and middle-relief roles. Daly throws in the low 90s, but needs to work on consistency. Turner has developed a slider after junking his curve, and Kramer has good fastball command. Trapasso has yet to decide on a setup man.
Esteban Lopez, the third Rainbow on the preseason All-WAC team, is the starting catcher, but will get more rest this year with Matt Inouye taking a regular turn behind the plate.
"Matt is growing into a leader, working with the staff and pushing the tempo," Trapasso said. "If Esteban hits like he did the last month a year ago, he will be a good draft. We need him to get hot."
Freshmen Landon Hernandez and Kevin Fujii back up the two seniors.
The infield is definitely not settled, according to Trapasso.
Shortstop Joe Spiers has a hamstring pull. JC transfers Justin Frash, a third baseman, and Kris Sanchez, a left-handed hitting first baseman, have tender shoulders. Eli Rimes, the 'Bows' best defensive first baseman and a left-handed hitter, missed most of the fall with a hamstring pull.
Spiers is taking balls at second base with JC transfer Elijah Christensen and freshman Nathan Young available to play short.
Returning first baseman Luis Avila had a solid fall. Adam Roberts and Jonathan Hee will handle third base. Hee can also play second.
The starters in the outfield should come from Inouye, returnees Derek Dupree and Robbie Wilder and transfer Jorge (pronounced George) Franco.
"Robbie is playing with a sense of urgency, making things happen," Trapasso said. "That is very pleasant to see. You have to root for Robbie because of the injuries he has had the last two years."
Freshman Matthew Roquemore, a left-handed hitter, redshirt freshman Steve Bralver and sophomore Ryan Asato provide depth.
"Ryan has had one of the hotter bats. He is a quality left-hander off the bench," Trapasso said.