It’s an eight to nine-hour flight from Kauai to Texas — worth it.
The Kauai Aces, a local Pony League 12-and-under team, went undefeated in tournament play to claim top prize in the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) 12AAA World Series in Texas.
“It was a great opportunity for these boys to go out there. To travel that far, about a nine-hour plane ride, it was awesome,” said Aces head coach Kevin Akita in a phone interview Tuesday.
The Aces defeated the Dulin’s Dodgers Dowell club of Tennessee, 6-0, in the championship game Tuesday.
“It feels very good. It’s a big accomplishment for a little island,” Akita said. “It’s 11 kids that we took. Winning the whole thing, that is really big for the island of Kauai. There’s not too many kids that can say they earned that World Series ring.”
Akita said they played the Tennessee club twice in the double-elimination tournament prior to the title match — once in pool play and another in the tournament bracket.
“They’re a very good team. They hit the ball a lot. Our pitching kept us in the game,” Akita said. “Our pitchers pitched really well, and we were able to get a couple of hits to score a couple of runs. We were able to put a couple of bunts down. Execution was very important, and they made a couple of errors also.”
Kauai’s Aces went 9-0 in the tournament. Akita said the team was seeded No. 29 prior to pool play. Afterwards, the Aces were seeded No. 1 before elimination play started.
“We played a team from Arkansas, and another team from Tennessee. We played teams from California. We played two teams from Texas,” Akita said. “We just stuck together and played ball. We didn’t make any mistakes on defense — that was the whole thing right there.”
Also, the Kauai Aces placed third in the tournament’s Home Run Derby. Teams of three participated in the derby. Kauai’s Kainalu Lazaro, Isaiah Matsumura and Kash Akita totaled four home runs, Julie Akita wrote in a text.
She also said Kash Akita won the World Series Offensive Player Award, and Kanaan Ephan won Most Valuable Player.
The team will return home next week. Soon after, Kauai’s boys will be back on the road.
The Aces will head to California later this month for another tournament.
“We won the Bronco Kauai state tournament, that Hawaii tournament, before we left,” Akita said. “We’re going to represent Hawaii in the Pony Zone (tournament).”