As they pulled over the tarps at the Ron Martin Athletic Field on Wednesday, you could tell the rain was finally getting in the way of the KIF baseball season, which still hasn’t seen a full set of innings.
The slight drizzle turned into a down-pour, leaving the game suspended in the top of the second inning, with Kaua’i up 9-5 over Kapa’a.
Today, the Red Raiders and Menehune will try to get in a complete game or two at Waimea High School, with the first game of the double dip, starting at 10 a.m.
“They’re kind of itchy to at least play a game. Even when we went up to Honolulu (for preseason), it was totally muddy, so it was basically a shopping trip for us,” Waimea interim coach Kelly Robinson said.
Robinson takes over the reigns from Nelson Mendonca, who suffered some injuries earlier in the year from a car accident.
According to Menehune athletic director Jon Kobayashi, Mendonca should miss the entire season.
Waimea returns a heavy load of players from last season, which include the likes of thirdbaseman Isaac Castillo, secondbaseman Quinton Natividad, center-fielder Troy Yamase, firstbaseman Brad Frasco, Kelly Batis, Brandon Hashimoto, and Broc Santiago.
“Pitching is going to be real scarce for the KIF this season,” Robinson said.
And a good indication of that, was on display in the opener between Kaua’i and Kapa’a, which totaled up 13 runs in just over an inning.
The three-time defending KIF champion Red Raiders are led by Stanton Yoshimori, Aaron Soong, Andrew Renaud, Jon Gebauer, Dustin Pagador, Aaron Adachi, Schyler ArakakiIbia, Blake Gingerich, and Jett Jasper.
Kaua’i has shown that they are crafty with the bats, but pitching may be the Red Raiders’ Achilles heel.
Losing Kirby Yates and Shannon Oketani to graduation last season were tough pills to swallow for Kaua’i, but with a group of young hurlers behind Yoshimori, coach Hank Ibia and his squad should be in good hands.
In the meantime, the Warriors’ hard-nosed lineup features a host of talented players, who have shown improvement from last season.
Led by Travis Nakamura, Waylan Kupihea, Jetson Wakuta, C.J. Jacinto, Kahai Nakano, Travis Shigeta, Alan Kahaunaele, and Tyler Hadley, the Warriors should challenge for the top spot, but again, like the other two teams, pitching will determine if they make it or not.
The March 18 doubleheader which was postponed due to rain was rescheduled to April 8. KIF baseball games are aired live on KONG AM570, with “Anahola” Joe.
- Duane Shimogawa Jr., sports editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257) or email@example.com.