Loaded with returnees, Mid-Pacific will be a tough out again

Mid-Pacific won its 14th ILH championship under longtime coach Dunn Muramaru in 2018. Photo by Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser.

By Mid-Pacific baseball standards, there’s some catching up to do.

The Owls open regular-season play on Tuesday afternoon against ‘Iolani as longtime coach Dunn Muramaru ponders what will happen. The cancellation of the 2020 season disrupted the force, for sure.

“We play our season, raise our level. In the fall, raise our level,” Muramaru said about the gaps that never happened in his decades of coaching. “Now, we’re back to where we would be in the summer. That’s the hardest part.”

The Owls will host ‘Iolani at 3:30 p.m. Spectators are not allowed, but the game will be streamed live on Mid-Pacific’s Facebook page.

Saint Lous coach George Gusman considers Mid-Pacific among the top three teams in the ILH.

“Can’t get Mid-Pacific out. They score runs,” said Gusman, whose Crusaders scrimmaged with the Owls four times. “Can’t strike them out and they put the ball in play. They always have really good players.”

While practicing as a team was not an option for most of the past year, teams were allowed to work out during a revamped “white period” as mandated by the ILH. There are “about 20 returnees,” Coach Muramaru said.

“We actually had only two seniors last year, so most of the guys are back. We didn’t get to practice with them, so they’re still kind of brand new guys,” he said. “We can’t work out in the weight room. We can only practice for so long.”

Without leagues and tournaments here, players across the state still traveled for mainland tournaments and even got more instruction than usual away from campus.

“I’m not really tolerant of that stuff. All these weird habits they learn from there people. We don’t teach that. It’s worse for the pitchers. Some worked hard and some guys don’t play. They only hear stuff. All they hear is velo,” Muramaru said. “I don’t care about velocity.”

Coaches have also remarked about the time away from their players, many of whom have grown and changed.

“We’re learning the kids all over again. They’re different people and that’s my biggest strength, knowing what they can do,” Muramaru said. “Now, it’s like getting a new car. You don’t know what it can do.”

The Owls did get 10 scrimmages in, the benefit of having the only available baseball field for game action. There would have been more scrimmages if not for wet weather, but having live action makes all the difference.

“It changed the composition of our lineup,” Muramaru said. “It’s totally different from the start until now.

Top returnees

P Cayden Okada, Sr.
P Kodey Shojinaga, Jr.
P ZB Kon, Jr.

“They’re just average pitchers. They’re not like the kind of guys we’ve seen in the last few years,” Muramaru said. “Fastball, curve ball, change-up, slider.”

C Mack Higuchi, Sr. (commit to HPU)
OF Lee Matsuzaki, Sr.
OF Draven Nushida, Jr.
IF Kennedy Hara, Jr.

Hara is recovering from an ankle injury.

Top newcomer

1B/OF Karter Wong, Jr.


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