Senior softballers invade Hanapepe

HANAPEPE — Leo Chesebro of the Maui Braves laced into a 3-run homerun over the centerfield fence in the bottom of the sixth inning with two outs, yesterday.

But the effort fell short as the Onomea Rangers of Hilo answered with two runs in the top of the seventh for an 11-9 victory at Hanapepe Stadium.

“Leo is originally from Hilo,” said Leihua Malani, the Rangers’ scorekeeper. “Maybe he should move back.”

The Rangers’ win was an upset as the third-seeded team from the Big Island bested the top-seeded Maui team at the opening of the 33rd annual Hawai‘i State Senior Softball Tournament.

But that was just one of many games taking place.

“This is the biggest state tournament we’ve ever had, and it’ll be very competitive,” said Pat Baniaga, Kaua‘i coordinator for the Senior Softball League. “The teams take the game very seriously and have practiced hard for this tournament.”

According to a press release from Mary Daubert, the county’s public information officer, there are a total of 46 teams participating in the tournament which runs today and ends tomorrow. There are 19 teams from the Big Island, seven from Kaua‘i, 12 from O‘ahu and eight from Maui with participants, including women, ranging in age from 55 to 89 years old.

Games in six brackets start at 9 a.m. and run until 4:30 p.m. Tomorrow’s games start from 9 a.m. and will be completed by 2 p.m. with the championship games taking place starting from 12:45 p.m.

“The county is pleased to host this special event that brings people from all over the state to Kaua‘i,” said Bernard Carvalho, director of the county’s Parks and Recreation division who represented Mayor Kaipo Asing. “Our staff has been working hard to prepare for this, redesigning the stadium complex to accomodate six playing fields for all the games which will be playing simultaneously.”

Sam Arashiro, one of the county’s Parks and Recreation staff, said in addition to getting the fields ready, they’ve come up with game officials and other help to make this tournament a possibility.

In addition to Carvalho, who adjourned immediately following the opening ceremonies, state Representative Roland Sagum as well as council members Ron Kouchi, JoAnn Yukimura, Mel Rapozo, Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho and Tim Bynam offered their congratulations before joining Carvalho at the 2008 Drug Summit which was taking place at the Hilton Kaua‘i Beach Resort.

“It’s gratifying for me to know that the work I’ve done has resulted in others having a good time,” Baniaga said.

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