Daryl Kitagawa may be the most excited Kamehameha Warrior of all.
Kamehameha and Punahou meet at Patsy Mink Central Oahu Park tonight as the Interscholastic League of Honolulu baseball regular season begins. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
“For the kids, they’re always excited when they have the chance to play,” the Warriors baseball coach said. “Especially on TV. They might have to manage their emotions, but whatever, go out there and have fun. As long as you’re in the team realm, go have fun. It is what it is.”
The Warriors baseball coach has what may be the deepest roster in the ILH. There are half as many regular-season games as usual — one round-robin of seven contests for each of the league’s eight baseball teams. The regular season will close on May 4, followed by a single-elimination tournament instead of the usual double-elimination format.
“It is condensed, but seriously, we get to play. I know a lot of sports were cancelled. I really feel bad for everybody,” Kitagawa said. “Just being able to play, we’re very grateful and appreciative. It would’ve been really sad if spring sports had been cancelled again.”
There are 26 players on the Kamehameha roster, including 16 seniors.
“I feel we’re a veteran type of ball club even though a lot of our kids are unproven. I hope that leadership and veteran-ish kind of team will carry through,” Kitagawa said.
P Casey Kitagawa, Sr. (signed with LMU)
P Kaena Kiakona, Jr.
P Kodie Hanawahine, Jr.
P Shaydan Lovediro, Sr. (Bushnell)
P Keola Ying, Jr.
“Some of these guys did well in the (Hawaii) Sandlot Classic,” Kitagawa said. “We have five righties, five lefties. It’s interesting and neat the way the season is playing out. We have to at every position, 10 pitchers. Very symmetrical.”
Top position players
1B/3B Jameson Hussey, Sr. (Hesston College)
3B Tui Ickes, Sr.
1B Elijah Ickes, So.
C/OF Beau Sylvester, Jr.
3B Paa Elarianoff, Jr. (Hawaii)
“I would like to play our seniors as much as possible. They’ve all been working hard and deserve that,” Kitagawa said.
Elarinoff is on the mend after suffering a hamstring injury.
One big plus in the depth of pitching has been access to live pitching.
“We couldn’t scrimmage OIA teams, so we actually had our first-ever, on-campus — I called it the Imua World Series,” Kitagawa said. “Because we are balanced, I split it up Blue and White, and we played at our field on campus. It’s a really small field, but we played. We probably had 10 homers in three games. It was super fun.”
The series finished at one win for each side, and a tie.
“Came to darkness, ended in a tie,” he said of the mid-March battles. “We can’t wait. We’re super excited.”
“I would like to give a huge shout out to our administrators for being in the forefront of getting our students back on campus and in sports. It is crucial to the well-being of the student-athlete,” Kitagawa added. “They brought us back in October. They said, ‘Daryl, follow these protocols and go for it.’ “