Defending champ Baldwin a unanimous No. 1 to open season

Baldwin's run to the state title last year included a one-run win over Punahou in the state tournament. The Bears have won two of the last three state titles and are picked No. 1 by every voter to start the 2019 season. Photo by Jerry Campany/Star-Advertiser.

Shane Dudoit knows quite well the added benefit of silence, momentum and development — the crescendo — of a long, successful baseball season.

The Baldwin Bears coach would’ve been perfectly happy with anything besides a No. 1 ranking. No. 4, No. 5, anything but No. 1, he says. Dudoit didn’t quite get that gift, but No. 1 in the Star-Advertiser Baseball Top 10 isn’t a curse either. Coaches and media made Baldwin (8-1) a unanimous No. 1 with all 10 first-place votes before the regular season starts this week.

‘Iolani (10-3) edged Waiakea (4-3) for No. 2, and Punahou (8-1-1) is at No. 4. Campbell (6-1-1), Mid-Pacific (8-2-2), Saint Louis (5-2), Kailua (2-4-2), Mililani (3-4) and Kamehameha (4-3) round out the first Top 10 of the 2019 season.

At first, Dudoit jokingly questioned the judgment of voters on the panel, but it is clear that Baldwin’s dynastic roots, at least in the MIL, are visible to many.

“I truly appreciate the respect that others give our program. I like the camaraderie among coaches in the state,” he said. “We’re a long way from where we want to be and we just need to give ourselves the opportunity of another state title and that starts next week against Lahainaluna.”

The defending state champion Bears are off to another strong start at 8-1 in preseason play. They lost to Punahou in early February, and have since reeled off wins over Waiakea, Pac-Five, Konawaena, Kapolei, ‘Iolani, Kaiser, Saint Louis and Kaimuki.

The first two weeks, Dudoit noted, was a chance for younger players to display their wares. The past week, though, gave Baldwin starters a good warmup for the Maui Interscholastic League season, where three-game series week by week are like nothing else in the state.

“There are plenty of things to clean up,” he said. “It should be another fun year.”

Also receiving votes to open the season were Kamehameha-Maui 5, Maui 4, Damien 3, Aiea 3, Kaiser 2, Farrington 1, Pearl City 1, Radford 1 and St. Francis 1.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser Top 10

Updated: 10/23
1.Kahuku (10)100
5.Saint Louis53


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