Keenan Sue loves baseball and he loves his Punahou baseball team.
The first-year coach and Honolulu businessman was effervescent in talking about his club five minutes after his postgame huddle on Friday.
The Buffanblu had just finished their season in a 3-1 loss to ‘Iolani in the ILH tournament. They stranded the bases loaded in the sixth and seventh innings and just couldn’t get the clutch hit they were looking for.
“They are hurting,” Sue, a 1997 Punahou graduate, said about his players. “They will go home tonight and wake up tomorrow and still be hurting. The next day, maybe they will hurt less. I feel bad for them that they didn’t get to play another game.”
The future, however, looks bright, the coach said.
“I staunchly believe that Punahou will be coming back strong,” he said. “It will take a couple of years to get a foothold, but there is a lot of talented kids coming up.”
It’s wise to remember Eric Kadooka, the Buffanblu coach who won seven straight state titles from 2004 to ’10, struggled in his first season at the helm.
Despite a 5-10 season, Sue will always remember this senior class as “my babies.”
He said he was fortunate to have some players come over from other sports to help with leadership.
“They brought that attitude of hustle and pride and toughness from football and wrestling,” Sue said. “That ‘we’re not going to lose’ attitude.”
Sue was talking about players like Heisman Hosoda (football wide receiver), Robert Straton (football safety and wrestler) and Keenan Eldredge (football linebacker).
“Heisman hadn’t played baseball in four years,” Sue said. “But he came over and worked hard and became our first hitter of the bench. He was our designated hitter the last few games.”
Hosoda, a senior, will remember his coach, and, unfortunately, he’ll remember his last high school at-bat, hitting into a fielder’s choice with two outs and the bases loaded to end the game.
“He’s a great guy as well as a great coach,” Hosoda said of Sue. “He gets his point across without yelling. Stays calm. He genuinely cares about us.”
And that’s one good quality to have when you’re in charge of a program and trying to get the pendulum on the upswing.