No field, no problem.
That’s the mantra Pac-Five baseball coach Paul Ah Yat knows by heart. The ILH regular season begins today, and his Wolf Pack are ready to compete. Somehow, they’ve gotten by without a field to practice on until this week because of the COVID-19 restrictions on fields across Oahu.
“Today will be our first practice on a field,” Ah Yat said on Monday. “We’ve been jumping on whatever park we can get on the side. We’ll be at Manoa twice a week and at Ala Wai softball field once a week. Whatever you can get.”
Pac-Five opens against Damien at 3:30 p.m. in Patsy Mink Central Oahu Regional Park. The ‘Pack had one scrimmage on Saturday against Kaiser.
“They have good kids,” Ah Yat said.
There are 21 players on the roster for Pac-Five, including several key underclassmen. Four sophomores and two freshmen will start.
P Hunter Belmodis, Jr.
SS/2B Reese Arakaki, Sr. (signed with North Park, Ill.)
“Hunter has been with us since freshman year. He’s just been steady. He competes and he’s put in a lot of work this offseason tog et stronger, a lot of extra work. I encourage that with our players and he went and did it,” Ah Yat said of the southpaw. “He saw Mark O’Connell to help with his strength and you can see the difference.”
IF/RHP Kory Chu, So.
IF/RHP Caleb Kim, So.
IF/RHP Anthony Ahu-Fisher, So.
Chu, Kim and Ahu-Fisher are part of the future core.
“Those three are the main ones that stick out. They’re going to be getting a lot of PT,” Ah Yat said. “Kory’s the smallest, but he throws the hardest.”
Ah Yat is busy enough with a young family, but he sounds ready to steer the Wolfpack for the long haul.
“The sophomore class is strong. I could probably start almost every single one of them, all nine of them,” he said. “They would battle for some positions.”
The coach is a year-round contributor, often providing personal training on the diamond to individual players. As a high school coach, Ah Yat has seen what necessity can lead to.
“I’ve got to give props to the City & County. They’ve really stepped up and tried to accommodate everybody. We’re just fortunate to have a field for three days of the week, and we play (games) on the other two,” he said. “Really, we found a way to train, going small groups from the beginning of the pandemic last summer. It’s worked out well. In fact, I think moving forward into next year, we’ll definitely use that approach. We’ve noticed kids learn more in that small group, that design.”
Ah Yat anticipates one or two team practices per week.
“But that small group has worked as far as development, developing faster. Taking to my friends across the country, high school to college to pro ball, they’re all saying the same thing. Things are limited, but for the hitters, I’ve seen more growth in the kids that actually put in the work through this pandemic anyway,” he said. “The same on the pitching side. We’ve seen unbelievable growth in kids from 14 high schools. This thing has given them an advantage because a lot of guys haven’t been putting in the work. You’re going to see a big separation, guys who have separated themselves very clearly.”