America’s pastime returns to Kauai’s high school scene as things kick off on the Westside today.
Waimea High School’s varsity baseball team will host Kapaa in the Kauai Interscholastic Federation baseball opening game at Hanapepe Stadium.
The Waimea preseason tournament ended last week and the three KIF teams are raring to get the regular season started.
“Preseason went all right. First game, made a few errors, along with some rookie mistakes,” said Waimea head coach Larry Ephan. “But since then, every game we’ve gotten better and better. We’ve improved in every game since then.”
Waimea and Kapaa will play a doubleheader today. First game begins at 10 a.m.
Ephan said in order for the Menehune to start the season on the winning side, pitching has to be spot on. If that goes well, everything else will fall into place.
He added he will field several underclassmen in starting roles this year and things will bode well for them if they can limit the number of “rookie errors.”
“The difference (from last year) is our total attitude with approach to the game and working together as one unit,” Ephan added. “I think our strength this year is the simple fact that they’re willing to work as one.”
As for the Warriors, head coach Bryan Aiwohi said his team must be well-rounded and perform in all three phases — pitching, hitting and defense — to come out Saturday with a win. Just doing one thing well won’t cut it.
“This is a small island. We play each other enough times where we know each other (very well),” he said. “You make a mistake, they’ll take advantage.”
He added the preseason went better than he expected and expects to build on that starting today.
“I think we had four wins and one loss. It’s the best preseason we had in a while,” Aiwohi said. “Some new guys are stepping up, and the others are following.”
As for the defending KIF champs, Kauai High School will play its season opener at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at Vidinha Stadium versus Waimea.
“I haven’t seen them play yet. Tomorrow will be our first time watching them,” said Kauai head coach Hank Ibia about Waimea. “After tomorrow, we can gauge on what we’ll work on. Right now, it’s impossible to say. But after tomorrow, we’ll know what to work on.”
The Red Raiders coach added his team did some things well during the preseason, but there’s always room for improvement.
“I guess we need to stay focused and disciplined with how we act toward the game,” Ibia said. “Being champs is good. We got the target on our backs right now. But if we can stay disciplined and focused, we should be OK.”