LIHUE — The Red Raider boys clinched a second-consecutive Kauai Interscholastic Federation championship two weeks ago. Now, they have their sights at the top prize.
Kauai High School’s varsity baseball team will begin its run at the Wally Yonamine Foundation Baseball Championships — Division II tournament Thursday. The No. 4 seed Red Raiders will play Konawaena of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation in the tournament’s opening round on Oahu.
“It was a good season. All three of us battled for the KIF championship this year,” Kauai head coach Hank Ibia said about the past KIF season. “For some reason this season, we went through our ups and downs … We got through that, so we should be OK now.”
The Red Raiders coach added aside from one injured player, junior infielder Doug Miyasato, the rest of the team is healthy and raring to go.
Ibia said Miyasato has been dealing with an elbow injury, but still expects him to be able to contribute as a courtesy runner or pinch hitter.
“He’s throwing now, but not as strong,” Ibia said about Miyasato. “But he can run, and he can hit. So, we’re all good.”
Red Raiders senior pitcher and catcher Cal Koga, too, said the team has been tested throughout the season but is better for it.
“As a team, we did a really good job because a lot of us were missing or sick. Almost the whole year, we didn’t have our original starting nine on the field,” Koga said. “Every game, somebody had to step in. They did their job, and that’s all you can ask for.”
Kauai went into the state tournament last year unseeded and finished third. Koga said he hopes the team will have another good showing so he and the other seniors can finish their high school careers on a good note.
“It was our goal from the beginning of the year to win KIF and go to states,” Koga said. “I’m excited. It’s our last year. We want to go over there and just win the whole thing, but we’re focused on the first game as of now.”
Junior infielder Micah Layosa said the team has worked hard to earn their spot at states and relishes the thought of winning a state title.
“Coach has been saying, ‘21 innings. We have three more games,’” Layosa said. “We have 21 more innings, and we can win it. That’s our mindset right now.”
The players will be arriving to Oahu with blonde and red hair. Layosa jokingly said he and his teammates “look like chickens.”
“Our captains just came together and talked. We wanted to do something different,” Layosa said about the hairstyles. “(They wanted) to put in something that hasn’t been done before, which I guess is red mohawks. You don’t really see to many blonde and red mohawks.”
Thursday’s game versus Konawaena will begin at 11:30 a.m. at Hans L’Orange Field in Waipahu.
“I think from what happened last year and where we’re seeded this year, I think it’s a good place to be,” Ibia said. “The main thing is that you want everybody to be sharp.”