Playing ball in the Pacific Northwest

KAPAA — One of Kauai’s baseball standouts will be playing ball in the Pacific Northwest.

Kapaa High School senior Leighton Moniz signed his letter of intent Thursday, accepting a partial scholarship to Edmonds Community College in Lynnwood, Washington, near Seattle.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” Moniz said just before signing. “Excited and nervous, but I feel very positive about my decision to where I want to play at the next level and further my education.”

Moniz’s signing took place during a ceremony at Ron Martin Field in Kapaa High School following a Kauai Interscholastic Federation junior varsity baseball game — Kapaa defeated Kauai High, 7-6.

Moniz primarily plays shortstop for the Warriors varsity squad, but anticipates moving to second baseman at Edmonds.

Moniz said he was scouted by the Tritons at a mainland tournament.

“I went to the Arizona Fall Classic in October. I had about seven schools talk to me,” he said. “The assistant coach, Ron Omori, called me on the cell phone. He told me he was flying to Hawaii and he wanted to talk to me.

“He flew down to Kauai, and we had a meeting at my house. We talked for about two hours,” Moniz continued. “He was giving me all the info about their school. He gave me a really good fit financially and baseball-wise.”

Kapaa High varsity baseball head coach Bryan Aiwohi said Moniz plays with a scrappy attitude on the field, and that will bode well for him at Edmonds.

“He’s a gamer. He hates losing. He’s going to fight until the end,” Aiwohi said, referencing Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to Kauai High in a varsity game.

Moniz had the last at bat for the Warriors, in which he hit into a groundout to end the contest.

“Yesterday’s loss was tough. He took it hard,” Aiwohi said. “He was the right guy at the right time with the bases loaded and two outs. He didn’t come though then, but I felt comfortable having him there in that situation because I know he’s a gamer. He plays hard for his team.”

The Warriors coach said Moniz went above and beyond to get him this opportunity.

“I just planted the seed. They do a lot of the work themselves. We do what we got to do. And I write a letter for him if they need to,” he said. “But you know, these kids who want it, they put in the work and the extra time. You can’t just rely on high school practices. If you want to go to the next level, you got to put in the extra work (in the) offseason. That will get you there.”

Moniz, too, believes his fiery play on the field is what he does best though he’s not being the biggest athlete.

That is what he mainly offers to the Tritons program.

“I’ve always never had the size or anything. But I’ve always had the heart and love for the game of baseball,” he said. “I’ve always brought intensity to the field. Hopefully, that will help me go on with my life and keep on playing.”

Moniz intends to study business when he makes his way to the Mainland.

“It means a lot. My whole life, I wanted to go to the Mainland, for sure, to go play baseball,” he said. “Fifteen minutes from downtown Seattle. So, it should be very exciting. A lot of things to do.”

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