Maryknoll leans on resilience of ace Justice Yamashita

Maryknoll’s Justice Yamashita has developed into a pitcher who plays a key role on the team according to coach Eric Kadooka. Photo by Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser.

He doesn’t say a whole lot with words, but Justice Yamashita certainly knows how to figure out a problem or two.

The Maryknoll senior found himself in a jam against Pac-Five on Tuesday night. After leading by five runs, the Spartans saw the Wolfpack cut the lead to two, 9-7. As usual, the right-handed ace kept his wits and kept working.

Yamashita finished with four strikeouts and just one walk issued as the Spartans held on for a 10-7 win at historic Hans L’Orange Park.

“It was too many fastballs,” said Yamashita, who discussed strategy with coaches and his catcher, Tyler Quinn. “I switched it up and slowed down. Changed speeds. I got a lot of run support and our defense came up big. Chase (Hedani), our shortstop, came up with that double play in the sixth inning.”

Yamashita intends on majoring in engineering, mechanical or electrical, at Pacific or St. Martin’s after graduation. His low-key, resilient competitiveness has been a big plus for a program that has been tested severely in ILH Division I.

“He’s a quiet, great kid,” Spartans coach Eric Kadooka said. “He works real hard and he’s a good student. He’s the first to practice, does extra running, and he’s the last to leave.”

The drive comes from the people who inspire him. The previous seniors at Maryknoll. His father, Sean.

“He coached me from Shetland (PAL) when I was 6 all the way to Manoa League when I was in seventh grade,” Yamashita said.

The highlight and heartache sometimes go together. Kadooka recalled a 5-2 lead on Saint Louis with Yamashita on the mound, but he hit his pitch-count maximum and had to leave the game. Saint Louis wound up with the win, but Kadooka will always trust his overachieving hurler.

“He’s 5-foot-8, throwing against the best hitters in the state,” Kadooka said. “He’s developed himself from a guy who’s just out there, to a guy who has a key role.”

Maryknoll improved to 4-9 with two regular-season games left before the playoffs. The Spartans meet Kamehameha on Saturday at Ala Wai, and ‘Iolani on Monday, also at Ala Wai.


  1. Mahatma Gandhi April 3, 2019 8:36 am

    Maryknoll Coach Eric Kado-oka (the hill on the corner). I thought he “retired” from coaching. He led Punahou to an unbelieveable 7 straight Hawaii state high school baseball championships. Not even legendary Iolani Red Raider baseball coach George Fujishige won 2 state championships in a row. He got let go the next year after not winning an 8th straight state championship. What does Punahou expect of its head baseball coaches? One year, I think it after Punahou had won 4 straight state championships, the team had almost everyone back from the previous year, but they were mailing it in every game, playing well below expectations. After one lackluster loss, Coach Kado-oka made the team walk back to campus from Ala Wai field. That lit a fire under the team and they went to win yet another state championship that year. Best coaching move of the century.

  2. Hmmm? April 3, 2019 11:18 am

    That walk-back was one of the reasons that got Kadooka in trouble, down the road, but he still one of the best Pun coaches ever…

  3. Diamond Guru April 3, 2019 2:21 pm

    The amazing transition of what a school with money & facilities do compared to a school that empties the bankroll on basketball & softball scholarships. Kadaoka is doing what he can to help the Spartan program. Unfortunately its not nearly as close to offering Punahou Education plus the opportunity to play sports. The real question is why go to Maryknoll with no scholarship opportunity when you can pay less tuition & go to schools like St Louis, St. Francis ( when it remained open) & Damien. Not taking away what he’s accomplished but this was a bad move coming back to coach a team like Maryknoll. Punahou & Corey Ishigo must be wondering the samething about this.

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