Times change, but Eric Tokunaga teaches the timeless fundamentals of baseball.
The Farrington coach is now in year five at the helm. The once-struggling program has flourished with old-school work ethic. The Governors won the OIA Division II title in 2018 and now have their eyes on a possible D-I OIA East title in ’21. They’ll have seven regular-season games to show what they’ve got.
The Govs have a roster that includes several players who will suit up to play at the college level soon. A former Govs pitcher, Kainsoa Mane, threw a seven-inning, complete-game win in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Mane wound up at Hesston Community College (Kan.), where assistant coach Jamie Womack eventually offered the hurler a scholarship for the second half of the 2020-21 year.
Womack then became an assistant coach at Bushnell University (Wash.), which revived its baseball program. Now, key players from Farrington are part of the pipeline to the Northwest.
Among them is senior shortstop Reece Carganilla, pitcher/outfielder Kai Keamo and utility man Jayden Soriano, who pitches, catches and plays either corner position.
Senior catcher/pitcher Kamaehu Sanchez remains uncommitted.
Second baseman Cody Pilor, another senior, will head to Hesston. Three more seniors are starters for the Governors: first baseman Landon Furukawa, right fielder Ryan Murray and left fielder Kaimana Workmeister.
Many of the Govs play in the offseason with the Go Nuts baseball club. That mainland-tournament exposure is another key factor in the recruiting process.
Top newcomers include pitcher/third baseman Jacob Soriano, a sophomore. He is a younger brother of Jayden Soriano. Another addition is sophomore pitcher/first baseman/catcher Jalen Lani.
“He’s the next Willie Stargell,” Tokunaga said of Lani. “Trying, anyway.”
Building the program one step at a time, one brick at a time, hasn’t been easy. Tokunaga’s knees are worn out, but he still grinds through every workout.
“We’re in Division I now. This is our year,” the former Hawaii infielder said. “We’ll just try to play the best we can considering the situation. I just want them to play the game the right way. Respect the game. Play hard. Respect the history, not only in Major League Baseball, but in Hawaii. The guys that came before.”
The team practices on Joey DeSa Field at Lanakila District Park.
“Joey DeSa was my personal friend. We played at the field. That’s precious to me,” Tokunaga said. “John Matias. I played with him. Right now at this point of time, we have more history than anyone else. Nobody can beat Farrington baseball history.”
The Governors open the regular season on Saturday against Castle at DeSa Field. Game time is 11 a.m., but no spectators are allowed.
“I tell our guys all the time that more legends played at Lanakila than any other school. We have a lot to be proud of,” Tokunaga said. “Every time we take that field, a lot of people are pulling for us.”
Correction: Sanchez was listed as a commit to Bushnell in the original post. He is uncommitted. Also, Jamie Womack is an assistant coach at Bushnell, not head coach.