First game key for Kawaihau Majors at District tourney

KAPA‘A — “We’ve got to win the first game,” said Abe Kuhaulua, head coach for the Kawaihau Community Little League Majors All Stars.

The Kawaihau Majors All Stars leave for O‘ahu today to seek a berth in the State Little League Majors Championship tournament which will be hosted by the Kawaihau organization later this month.

But in order to participate in it, the Kawaihau Majors All Stars must first take the District tournament which starts tomorrow at the Keolu Park on O‘ahu.

“It comes down to the first game,” Kuhaulua said. “And we’re pitted against the Kane‘ohe Nationals who ended last year as the state’s runner-up team by just one run.”

But that doesn’t concern Kuhaulua that much, he said, as he surveyed his players out on the field.

“We have a pretty good bunch of players. We have six returning players and this team is one of the best I’ve seen. We also have six 11-year-olds traveling with us so they can get experience for next year,” he said from the dugout during pre-practice, Tuesday afternoon.”

Of the 14-player roster, six are no strangers to the District tournament as they were on the roster last year when Kawaihau hosted the tournament here.

“We lost to the Nationals by just one run, 4-3,” Kuhaulua said. “We were actually leading 3-2 until the bottom of the sixth when we dropped the ball and two runs scored. Then we lost to the Kane‘ohe Americans by just one run.”

Kuhaulua said a lot of the players on the Nationals team were in their final year for the team last year.

“The Nationals will be a young team this year,” Kuhaulua said. “But last year, the Americans were a young team. They’ll probably have four or five returning players this year and will be a tough team.”

Of the Majors All Stars, four come from the Cardinals who won the league championship. The runner-up Yankees put six on the team and the Giants added three more players. One player from the Rockies made the squad.

Fig Mitchell, who was helping coach practice Tuesday, said the team is well-rounded with at least eight players capable of pitching and two who are also adept as catchers.

“They’re all good hitters, but the five leaders should be Rashaan “Turtle” Kuhaulua, Daniel Reis, McKenna Estacio, Ryan Koerte and Kyana Hirokane,” he said.

The pitchers include Rashaan, Estacio, Reis, Mitchell Peralto, Justyn Nagahisa, Matthew Cummings, Edsel Lactaotao, A.J. Cummings and Grant Mitchell.

Kawaihau Majors All Stars get its first pitch against the Kane‘ohe Nationals starting at 4 p.m., tomorrow.

“It’s 4 p.m., 1 p.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.,” Kuhaulua said. “If we get past Kane‘ohe, we go up against Kailua starting at 1 p.m. After that, it’s whoever advances. But if we play those time slots, the next step is championship.”

In addition to Kuhaulua as the head coach, assistant coaches for the Kawaihau Majors All Stars are Ashkhon Kuhaulua and Brendon Hirokane.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com

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