CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii senior Jon Hee has gone from scrawny walk-on to starting second baseman.
Warriors face 4-game series with Dons
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The UH baseball team returns to action this weekend for a four-game series against San Francisco beginning tomorrow at 6:35 p.m. at Les Murakami Stadium.
Hawaii vs. San Francisco; Tomorrow-Sunday; Les Murakami Stadium; Tomorrow, 6:35 p.m.; Saturday (doubleheader), 1:05 p.m.; Sunday, 1:05 p.m.; TV: KFVE; Radio: KKEA 1420-AM
The series will be the first of nine this year that will feature four games played in three days. Saturday's doubleheader begins at 1:05 p.m.
The pitching rotation will remain the same, as Matt Daly, Jared Alexander and Alex Capaul will start again this weekend. Freshman lefty Sam Spangler will be thrust into the rotation to start the nightcap of Saturday's twin-bill.
"(Sam's) got an electric arm," Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso said. "More than anything else, he has earned it with how he's pitched for us in scrimmages and stuff."
This will be the Dons' season-opening series, while Hawaii (2-1) is coming off a three-game set with Hawaii-Hilo.
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CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hee, a Mid-Pacific graduate, hit the weight room while redshirting in his first year with the Rainbows, adding 15 to 20 pounds of muscle to his body.
Hawaii senior Jon Hee's career is one of those feel-good stories of college baseball.
Five years ago, Hee graduated from Mid-Pacific and walked on at Hawaii with dreams of playing for the hometown college team.
He was a scrawny, but scrappy, infielder who coach Mike Trapasso describes as a kid "with phenomenal hands." The only problem was, he was a little on the small side.
"He was just so skinny," Trapasso said. "When we brought him in, we knew he had the tools. We just had to put some pounds on him and get him some strength."
Hee redshirted his first season and spent most of his time in the weight room, gaining 15 to 20 pounds of muscle on his 6-foot frame. A year later, he appeared in 21 games as a freshman, but continued to pound the weights hard.
His dedication and hard work paid off as a sophomore when he started 54 games, splitting time between second and third base. Since then, he has made second base his home, and has developed into one of the best at his position in the Western Athletic Conference.
"I'd like to think he doesn't get a lot of the credit he deserves outside of our program," Trapasso said. "Within our conference, we've had some pretty good second basemen, but I think he's just an under-the-radar performer because he just puts up numbers and plays great defense."
Hee admits to life being nerve-wracking as a youngster playing in a big stadium with family and friends watching.
But Hee also takes pride in being one of the few local products to make the team, and after so much experience and success, he has become used to life in the spotlight.
"Definitely. I've just matured a lot in five years," Hee said. "I would say that's the biggest thing. Being around the game, learning more about the game. That's what's helped me the most."
His story has drawn the praise and admiration of teammates and coaches, and he has become one of the most inspirational players on the team.
"I've been saying for two years now that he's the heart and soul of our club," Trapasso said.
Hee hit a career-high .345 last year while struggling to deal with a dislocated shoulder that affected his swing.
He had to make changes to deal with the pain, but after two years of constant nagging in his shoulder, he finally decided to have surgery on it last summer.
Now at "100 percent," Hee has gone from a kid focused on trying to make the team to a senior wanting to bring home a title.
"Win a WAC championship," he said. "I expect us to come out and compete every day and win a championship."
Dons flying in
San Francisco has been a common opponent for the Rainbows in the past, but the two teams did not face each other last year.
"They've got a lot of new guys," Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso said. "It'll be their first game and first series, so they'll be fired up."
The Dons, who play a four-game series against the Rainbows starting tomorrow, are picked to finish sixth in the West Coast Conference.
They return first-team all-conference selection Mitchell Bialosky, who hit .345 and belted five homers last year while driving in 40 runs.
Like Hawaii, San Francisco has an inexperienced pitching staff, with three starters of at least 10 games last year graduated. Bialosky is their most experienced returning pitcher, with seven starts a year ago, when he went 1-4.