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HIGH SCHOOL REPORT
"Coming into the season, only our team, families and coaches believed in us."
Kalani senior outfielder
Falcons flying high
Kalani is trying for its first
Kalani also benefited from the addition of junior third baseman Joshua Markwith, who transferred from Washington High School in Cherokee, Iowa. His solid play at the hot corner, coupled with a .324 batting average, allowed Pires to focus on catching.
Pires led by example, establishing team highs in RBIs (15), average (.457) and on-base percentage (.537). The quiet leader also quarterbacked the Kalani football team and maintains a 3.33 grade-point average.
"These guys take responsibility and do things on their own," said Hirai. "I nag a little, but they get through it."
The team was also aided by some expert tutelage from two of Kalani's best baseball products.
Lenn Sakata was a senior on the 1971 OIA championship squad and was on the team that won the school's lone state championship a year earlier. He went on to play 11 years as a major league infielder and managed the Triple-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants.
Sakata comes back to the islands during the fall to work with local high school players and aspiring professional prospects. According to Hirai, Sakata threw batting practice to the Kalani players, as well as the prospects he invited, for up to 6 hours a day.
Shane Komine, a 1998 grad, returned to help the team as a pitching coach while rehabilitating his arm after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The former Nebraska ace is awaiting minor league reassignment by the Oakland Athletics.
Hirai also emphasizes the importance of the help he received from parents of the players. They assisted him in organizing summer and fall leagues so that the players could prepare for the spring.
"Coming into the season, only our team, families and coaches believed in us," Teraoka said.
The Falcons (17-6 overall) earned a first-round bye in the OIA tournament and play the winner of today's Campbell-Kailua matchup tomorrow at Kahala Field.
"We've seen Kailua, and they're gonna have the revenge factor," said Hirai. "Campbell is really scrappy and will play to the end. It doesn't matter who we get, because both are good teams."