Farrington baseball coach Eric Tokunaga isn’t promising the moon as his Governors move up from Division II to D-I this year.
But, the timing is pretty good, he said.
“We’ve got an influx of younger players,” Tokunaga said during a phone interview Friday. “We had freshmen playing varsity last year in D-II, so the transition will be easier. This year, those players are physically stronger.”
Being competitive is what he’s striving for.
“We’ll try to hold our own and stay above water,” the coach said. “We’ve got a good blend of younger and older players, so hopefully we’ll be OK.”
Due to the Govs’ success in D-II the past two years (including an OIA title and a trip to the state semifinals last year), they vaulted up a division along with Waianae. Kalaheo and Waipahu went down to D-II.
Catcher Kamaehu Sanchez, second baseman Cody Pilor, first baseman Jayden Soriano, shortstop Brennan Caspillo, and pitcher/catchers Caleb Sherman and Treven Isobe are Farrington’s leaders.
A group of his players were part of a team that went to the Cal Ripken World Series.
When asked if he has any reservations about going against some of the top D-I coaches in the state, Tokunaga said:
“It doesn’t matter because, bottom line, and I’ve always known this, it’s the players who play the game. As coaches, we’ve got to put them in the right position and hopefully they perform. All these coaches have their own style, but you hear them all say, “The kids have to believe in the process, believe in what the coaches lay out. Every coach does it a little differently with philosophies and styles — Saint Louis’ George Gusman, (former Kalani coach) Shannon Hirai, (former Campbell coach) Rory Pico, Mililani’s Mark Hirayama, Mid-Pacific’s Dunn Muramaru. I’ve seen all these guys and learned from them.”
Tokunaga, who was the starting shortstop on the University of Hawaii team that went to the finals of the 1980 College World Series, is a former assistant under Vern Ramie at Kamehameha and has been a coach for most of his adult life. This is his sixth season at Farrington.
Tokunaga has been a longtime scout for Major League Baseball organizations and is currently working for the Kansas City Royals.
The Govs start the OIA East season Wednesday at Kalani.