Roosevelt focusing on playoffs, not rankings
For die-hard Roosevelt High School fans, a place in the Star-Bulletin Baseball Top 10 provides a little bit of sunshine in an otherwise rough season of parity.
The Rough Riders, meanwhile, are taking their No. 10 ranking with a grain of salt. After all, they have the playoffs and a potential state-tournament berth to dwell on. A 7-2-1 record in the tough Oahu Interscholastic Association East has earned them a first-round bye.
Roosevelt will face the Moanalua-Pearl City winner on Thursday. Coach Craig Arakawa is at full attention; Moanalua defeated Roosevelt 6-1 two weeks ago.
"And I know one thing. Pearl City is pretty good, too," he said.
Ace Keoni Manago (2-1) continues to improve after coming back from a shoulder injury. Nick Wong and Kelson Okimoto are key starters on the mound who filled in well during Manago's absence.
"A lot of teams have one real good pitcher, and then after that everyone is equal. It's not so much the No. 1. It's how your No. 2 and No. 3 will produce. Nick and Kelson picked up the slack," said Arakawa.
Castillo cruising into playoffs
Tom Ebanez is an unabashed proponent of high school baseball, and there is little else that fuels his enthusiasm like his tight-knit Kapolei squad.
After his team fell to Aiea last week, though, he became a believer in Na Alii, too.
Randy Castillo is in the midst of one of the hottest pitching stints in recent memory. The Aiea right-hander has thrown 17 shutout innings in wins over Mililani and Kapolei, improving his mark to 8-1 in Oahu Interscholastic Association play. He fanned six 'Canes and walked just two in the four-hitter to close out the regular season.
"He did a great job. He kept us off balance," Ebanez said of the 6-foot-1 junior. "He had great defensive help, and when you get that combination going, that's hard to stop."
Castillo is quite effective with his pickoff throw, which he said is more of a preventive act than an effort to actually nab baserunners.
"He throws it hard to first because he's not accurate when he doesn't throw hard," coach Ryan Kato noted.
Kapolei is among several teams that open the OIA playoffs tomorrow. The 'Canes host Castle. Elsewhere, Moanalua visits Pearl City, Kaiser entertains Waianae and Kalani faces Leilehua at Central Oahu Regional Park in a televised game.
Aiea, Mililani, Kailua and Roosevelt have opening-round byes. Roosevelt entered the Top 10 today at No. 10, tied with another newcomer, St. Anthony.