Pearl City busts out to 17-2 start


POSTED: Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Right on cue, the Chargers rumbled over the Ewa plain and doused the Campbell Sabers.

On the day Pearl City was voted to a No. 1 ranking in the Star-Bulletin Baseball Top 10, freshman Kawika Pruett hurled a five-hit shutout as the Chargers improved to 4-0 in the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red West.

Pruett, the latest in a line of talented brothers — Alika Pruett plays at Kamehameha and Hubert Pruett also played there — had plenty of help. Catcher Carlton Tanabe called an efficient game, as usual.

“;He's been calling the game for a couple of years,”; Pearl City coach Gary Nakamoto said. “;He's one of the better catchers in the state, I think.”;

Pearl City is 17-2 overall despite the loss of several standout players to graduation.

“;We've got Carlton and Bryson (Namba) at third base, but the rest is all new starters this year,”; Nakamoto noted. “;The kids play together and have a chemistry of picking each other up. We have guys who go out there and do their job.”;

The longtime coach — he's been in the Chargers program for 17 seasons — was surprised by the No. 1 ranking.

“;We try to keep the kids concentrating and not listening to the media hype. Anything can happen,”; he cautioned.

Pearl City saw plenty of quality teams in nonconference play.

“;I saw some of the neighbor-island teams and they have some good teams, also,”; Nakamoto said, citing Maui in particular. “;We played 'Iolani, Kamehameha and Punahou. They've got good teams out there. I heard Mid-Pac and Saint Louis are good, too. The ILH is going to be a race out there. With those five teams, anybody can get in I think.”;

The establishment of Division II in baseball was a blessing to the ILH last year, and it continues to be this season. Three ILH teams will receive Division I state berths. Prior to D-II, usually only one ILH team made it to states.

The OIA is in a bit of a transition because of budget limitations. Saturday games are doubleheaders now, putting more pressure on pitching staffs.

“;I had to look at more pitchers,”; Nakamoto said. “;We have 10 guys we designate as pitchers. It's been working out for us all preseason.”;


D-I offers accepted

Maryknoll outside hitter Elissa Ji and Hawaii Baptist libero Kelly Chang have given verbal commitments to play volleyball for Nevada.

Ji, a standout for the Spartans, is familiar with Chang. Both play for the Jammers Volleyball Club under Debbie Yee.

Chang was a Star-Bulletin All-State Fab 15 selection by coaches and media. Ji was voted All-State honorable mention despite a midseason ankle injury.

Maryknoll coach Lee Lamb was ecstatic for his former player.

“;I'm happy for her. She belongs there (in Division I). She takes care of all aspects, academics and athletics,”; he said. “;It was a rough senior year for her, but she was a super trooper and always kept her head up.”;

HBA coach Myles Shioji wasn't surprised by Chang's announcement.

“;She's kind of like a Jayme Lee type of player,”; Shioji said, noting the former HBA libero. “;She's a good player and she had good grades, and she wanted to go away, so that made it an easy recruitment for Nevada.

Others en route to college volleyball with a scholarship are 'Iolani outside hitter I'ishah Keliikoa and Sacred Hearts standout Macy Mitravich.

Keliikoa, who also plays for the Jammers, will play for Towson University (Md.). The Tigers play in the Colonial Athletic Association (Division I).

Mitravich gave an oral commitment to Bryant University in Rhode Island. The Bulldogs play in the Northeast Conference (Division I).