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Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, January 18, 2001

Ready or not,
Vulcans open
season tonight

Hawaii-Hilo warms up for its
last year in the WAC against
the Arizona Wildcats


By Al Chase

Joey Estrella says his baseball team is far from being ready to take on the Arizona Wildcats of the Pacific 10 Conference.

But that's not his main concern.

"We're just trying to take a few steps at a time," said Hawaii-Hilo head coach Estrella, whose team opens its 2001 season tonight. "We want to be ready for the WAC.

"We made mental mistakes, misjudged fly balls and had poor base running in the alumni game."

Following a week off and a series with Loyola Marymount, the Vulcans begin their final season in the WAC against league newcomer Nevada, Feb. 9-11.

Hilo's top two pitchers, Kaholo Rickard and Thomas Ford, are gone, but Estrella says there is more mound depth this year.

Senior right-hander Ben Siff (3-6, 6.02 ERA as a closer last year); junior college transfer Anthony Bernal, a right-hander, and either sophomore right-hander Robert Shimabuku or JC transfer Zebb Watts, also a right-hander, will make up the three-man starting rotation.

"The question is, do we have quality starting pitching?" said Estrella.

Right-handers Clay Daugherty and Sergio Reyes, both JC transfers, have the setup and closer roles, respectively.

Senior Todd Jimbo, who handles pitchers well and improved his hitting during fall workouts, starts at catcher.

Seniors Billy Rayl (.208 in 1999) or Mike Hobbs (.278) will be at third base. Rayl plays first along with junior Keola Park (.269).

Chad Agustin is leaving the mound to play second base.

"Of all the players, he hit the best in the fall," Estrella said.

Justin Kaneshiro, a fifth-year senior, replaces Brandon Chaves at shortstop.

"He may not have the range of Chaves, but he has good hands and a good arm," said Estrella.

Veterans Brian Rooke, the Vulcans' leading hitter (.285) and base stealer (23-of-30) a year ago, and Ryan Petersen (.277 and 17 stolen bases) anchor the outfield in center and right, respectively.

Left field is open, with junior Darren Chu and sophomore Kaliko Oligo the top candidates.

Estrella has been impressed with freshman Johnny Dudoit from Molokai High School.

"He swings the bat well and is a very good two-strike hitter," Estrella said.

Dudoit might break in as the designated hitter. Another possibility is 6-foot-6, 200-pound redshirt freshman Ian Young from Sydney, Australia.

"Right now, I just want to see them play hard and stay focused on the game," Estrella said.

The Vulcans and Wildcats meet at 6 tonight, play a doubleheader tomorrow at 4 p.m. and have a 1 p.m. game Saturday, all at Francis Wong Stadium.

 | | |

2001 Vulcans schedule

Today: Arizona, 6 p.m. Tomorrow: Arizona (2), 4 p.m. Saturday: Arizona, 1 p.m.

Feb. 2: Loyola Marymount, 6 p.m. 3: Loyola Marymount (2), 1 p.m. 4: Loyola Marymount, 1 p.m. Feb. 9: x-Nevada, 6 p.m. 10: x-Nevada, 1 p.m. 11: x-Nevada, 1 p.m. Feb. 17: x-at Texas Christian.18: x-at Texas Christian.19: x-at Texas Christian. Feb. 22: x-at Rice. 23: x-at Rice. 24: x-at Rice.

March 3: x-Rice, 6 p.m.4: x-Rice, 6 p.m. 5: x-Rice, 6 p.m. March 16: x-at Nevada. 17: x-at Nevada. 18: x-at Nevada. March 22: x-Texas Christian, 6 p.m.. 23: x-Texas Christian, 6 p.m.. 24: x-Texas Christian, 11 a.m. March 29: xSan Jose State, 6 p.m. 30: x-San Jose State, 6 p.m. 31: x-San Jose State, 11 a.m.

April 6: Washington, 6 p.m. 7: Washington (2), 1 p.m. 8: Washington, 1 p.m., Kailua-Kona. April 12: x-Fresno State, 6 p.m. 13: x-Fresno State, 6 p.m. 14: x-Fresno State, 11 a.m. April 22: Hawaii Pacific (2), noon. April. 28: x-at Fresno State. 29: x-at Fresno State. 30: x-at Fresno State.

May 3: x-at San Jose State 3: x-at San Jose State 4: x-at San Jose State.

May 11: x-Hawaii, 6 p.m.. 12: x-Hawaii, 1 p.m. (WAC). 13: Hawaii, 1 p.m. May 17: at Hawaii, 6:35 p.m. 18: x-at Hawaii, 6:35 p.m.19: x-at Hawaii, 2:05 p.m.

May 25-27: NCAA Regionals.

June 1-3: NCAA Super Regionals.

June 8-16: College World Series.

Bullet Home games at Francis Wong Stadium in Hilo.
Bullet x-denotes Western Athletic Conference game

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