KAPAA — The Kawaihau Community Little League Juniors, for youth 13 and 14 years old, are playing their first match at the Hawaii Little League state tournament Friday in Hilo.
“We’re pretty much the same team as last year,” said Kaimi Malina, a player on the Juniors All Stars. “We only added two more players — Jake Borrero and Ricky Rego.”
Coach Aaron Cummings said this group of boys was the Kawaihau Community Little League 50-70s last year, the team that advanced as far as the Little League World Series before falling short.
“Having the two players makes a difference for us,” Cummings said. “If we had them last year, it would have been a different result — for the better. But the boys weren’t playing Little League so they would have been ineligible.”
Cummings said the team will be competing at the state tournament along with Makakilo, Aiea, Maui, and host Hilo. The winner of the tournament, which ends Tuesday, will advance to the Regional tournament in Seattle. The winner of that tournament advances to the Little League World Series in Michigan.
“We kind of looked ahead a little,” said Cole Frye, a Juniors All Star. “This tournament is doable. Last year, we played Makakilo and was able to beat them. We should do all right.”
Frye said to advance to the state tournament, they beat Kaneohe twice.
Team members include Ricky Rego, Robin Dumlao, Jake Borrero, Keoua Sibayan, Noah Cardinez, Isaac Nagahisa, Kaimi Malina, Levi Cummngs, Trevor Kaui, Cole Frye, and Keilan Ibaan-McCarthy. Head coach is Justin Malina with assistant coaches Aaron Cummings and Mikey Cardinez.
Justin Malina, the Juniors head coach, said last year, the team played to a theme of, “Once In A Lifetime.”
“We did all right,” he said. “This year, it’s not once in a lifetime — it’s Once In A Lifetime, Part 2.”