Kailua has been a force in baseball for quite some time and a good part of that is due to the wizardry of coach Corey Ishigo.
The former steady second baseman for the University of Hawaii gives his team that same kind of steady hand year in and year out.
It’s no surprise that the Surfriders are off to a 3-0 start in the OIA. Ishigo has brought them to eight league titles in his 20 years and he also led the team to the 2001 state title.
Maybe this is the year the team puts its foot on the pedal and doesn’t take it off. In many of the past seasons, Ishigo’s Surfriders were built to peak at the right time, which sometimes meant slow starts.
One key cog to last year’s team, left-handed pitcher Joey Cantillo is in the minor leagues in the San Diego Padres organization now. He, for sure, is the biggest loss to graduation.
But just about the whole lineup is back from the team that won the OIA last year before getting knocked off by eventual state D-I runner-up Waiakea 3-1 in the quarterfinals.
The batting order is mostly the same — Matthew Kaleohi, Cody Riturban, Jalen Ah Yat, Dylan Kurahashi-Choy Foo, Bryson Ballesteros, Dakota Kadooka, Kalua Neves, Stone Parker, Dayne Ishigo.
Parker and Ballesteros can pitch, and Ryan Inouye, a sidearm reliever from a year ago, got the start in an 11-0 win over Castle on Friday.
So, with so many players back, maybe that’s why Ishigo was a bit miffed when Kailua was not in the Top 10 in a recent poll.
“You have just about everybody in your lineup back, that must feel pretty good,” Ishigo was told.
“It must be pretty bad,” he said. “We weren’t ranked in the first preseason poll. We take offense to that. We’re continuing to work as best as we can.”
Ishigo is going with the flow, however.
After being reminded about a few overthrows and another defensive miscue Friday, he said, “Hits, errors. It doesn’t matter. We’ll continue to work to get better.”
On one of the overthrows, Inouye backed up third base and pegged out Castle’s Cade Rapozo trying to go home after hitting a triple.
“The pitcher was where he was supposed to be so we got the guy out coming home,” Ishigo said.
Inouye’s versatility is one of his strengths.
“In our first two outings (wins of 13-0 and 1-0 over Moanalua and Kalani), we didn’t have a chance to get him in as a reliever,” Ishigo said. “Today, we started him. We needed to get him on the mound and get him some work.”
Inouye gave up one hit in three innings and Kurahashi-Choy Foo finished up the final two frames of hitless ball.
As it is for any competitive coach, the finished product is always out of reach.
“We can hit better, we can play better defense and we can throw more strikes,” Ishigo said.