KEKAHA — Two teams from the West Kauai Baseball league will compete at the Cal Ripken state baseball tournament on Oahu.
Kekaha and Koloa will each field a team in the 8-10 age division. Pool play will begin Monday. The top three teams in each pool will play single-elimination games starting Saturday.
“This is the second year in which Cal Ripken (league) has been in existence here on Kauai,” said Kekaha coach Chad Delanoza. “We had the opportunity to play this league because of developmental reasons. … They care more about the kids and what they do as pitchers or fielders.”
“They implemented some new rules, such as each kid needs to play. In other leagues, from what I’ve heard, it’s not mandatory,” he added. “It’s good for us because it develops all the kids. I really like this league and what it has done for all the teams.”
Kekaha will 14 players at the Oahu competition and Koloa will have about 13, Delanoza said. He added both teams had a scrimmage game Tuesday in Hanapepe in preparation for Oahu.
Delanoza also said the Kekaha team played at last year’s tournament and the players and the coaches didn’t expect the competition to be as difficult as it was, but is better prepared for it this time around.
“We found it to be very tough,” he said. “We’re here on Kauai — limited kids and teams. Honolulu is always a different thing for us. We did well the first game. We TKOd the first team, 15-5, and then we struggled the next three games.
“This year, I think we’ll fare pretty good. These kids know what to expect. We’ve been having a lot more scrimmages,” he added. “Last year, we just didn’t know what we were going to walk into. This year, we have a better idea of what we need to do. And these kids buy into it. Everyday, they show up.”
The Kekaha coach added anytime local teams have the chance to compete off island, it’s beneficial for Kauai’s young players.
“They see and realize how hard they need to work. The competition is always a great thing,” he said.