Blending in: Mililani baseball set to return to diamond soon

Mililani's Jason Shiigi pitches against Kamehameha during the 2019 state tournament at Iron Maehara Stadium in Wailuku. Photo by Bryan Berkowitz/Special to Star-Advertiser (May 9, 2019).

Depending on whether your public high school is in blended model mode or not, spring sports are closer to returning in the Oahu Interscholastic Association.

One of the largest schools in the state, Mililani, is not in the blended learning category, which means conditioning is more than one week away, according to Trojans Baseball Coach Mark Hirayama.

“Our school’s blended model begins on the 29th. I think we’re going to be able to start on the 22nd with our conditioning program. That’s actually going to take us three weeks. That would take us from starting tryouts the week of Apr. 12,” Hirayama said. “It all depends on each school’s conditioning protocol.”

Schools already in blended mode can work out within protocols. OIA baseball is on track to have a regular season without playoffs if and when the league athletic directors’ vote is approved.

“I think from what I heard, they’re looking at trying to start the (baseball) season Apr. 26,” Hirayama added.

With graduation ceremonies in May, that allows for perhaps three weeks of games. Hirayama expects a slightly different tone when games begin.

“Basically, we would play everyone once. The competition is going to be on the lower side because not everyone’s in shape. Even the first few games, it’s pitch by committee and everyone plays. It’s not as much about winning and losing as giving everyone a chance to play. We’re not playing for an OIA title or state title,” he said.

As expected, spectators will not be permitted to attend games, but nothing is set in stone yet.

“At Mililani, it’s all open. I can see us roping off the (baseball field) bleachers,” Hirayama said. “But I could see fans along the lines and the outfield.”

Baseball is beloved in Mililani. The Trojans reached the state final in 2013, ’14 and 19, and often carry well over 20 players on their roster. Hirayama and his staff haven’t seen their players on a field in nearly a year. The 2020 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s great for the kids to be able to get out. They just want to get out on the field and play. To have things cut down last year is a tough situation. It’s a part of life and you learn to deal with it,” Hirayama said. “It’s good for them to have something to look forward to, to make the most of our opportunities and keep moving forward.”

Hirayama’s son, Jacob, was a senior infielder last season when everything came to an abrupt halt. He is now playing baseball at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

“Time-wise, college baseball is basically having two full-time jobs,” the coach said. “They start their league (on Friday).”


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