Star-Bulletin Sports

Wednesday, April 4, 2001


Punahou pitcher Reid Matsushima is a top pitcher and hitter
in the ILH. He is the son of former University of Hawaii
football standout Harris Matsushima.

On field and
off, he masters
the plate

Matsushima credits pre-game
meal for success in ILH

By Jason Kaneshiro

Forget nutritional supplements or energy drinks. As far as Reid Matsushima is concerned, nothing beats deep-fried chicken smothered in curry for a pregame boost.

Matsushima, the Punahou baseball team's top pitcher and one of the most feared hitters in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu, won't step on the diamond without first devouring a chicken katsu curry mini-plate from the L&L Drive-Inn on Young Street in a routine dating back to last year's season opener against Iolani.

PREP EXTRA "I decided to stop by the L&L and have the curry katsu with some of my teammates," he said. "I played not bad that game, so I decided it's a pretty good ritual."

A 3-for-4 performance at the plate with a home run against the Raiders convinced Matsushima to make the meal part of his preparation throughout the season, which ended with him earning ILH all-star honors. Now nothing can keep Matsushima away from his greasy treat on game days.

"I've got the number so I call it in, pick it up right away and come right back," he said.

The plate lunch's magic has carried over to this season as Matsushima has helped lead Punahou to the top of the ILH standings. 

The 6-foot, 200-pound left-hander inherited much of his athletic prowess from his father, Harris Matsushima, who played defensive tackle for the University of Hawaii football team in the 1970s.

The younger Matsushima is now the big hitter in the family as his fluid swing is one of the sweetest in the ILH. And as a pitcher, he relies on control and guile to frustrate opposing batters.

"My goal is to be able to throw any pitch in any count," he said. "I don't have an overpowering fastball, or the nasty curve, so I just try to keep the batter off balance by throwing anything at anytime."

But L&L might have lost a loyal customer if Matsushima hadn't shaped up in the classroom. Punahou coach Eric Kadooka drew up a plan to help Matsushima get his academics in order, including study hall sessions twice a week, when his falling grades threatened to cancel his senior season.

"He's a really bright student," Kadooka said. "He's taking (Advanced Placement) classes. He got 1,300 on his SAT. But those AP classes are demanding as far as time management. That's what we worked on, providing him an organized structure."

The program has helped Matsushima get back on track academically, and the experience heightened his appreciation for a game he already loved.

"It put my priorities in order," Matsushima said. "It taught me school has to be first. And now that I got the school thing handled, playing baseball is a lot more fun. You enjoy it a lot more because you realize it could have been taken away."

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