In 2021, the baseball season began in late April.
This year, it is already underway with OIA regular-season play. The ILH begins this week, but the state’s top five teams are all from the private-school league in the first Star-Advertiser Baseball Top 10 of ’22.
Saint Louis collected nine of 10 first-place votes from the panel of coaches and media on Monday. The Crusaders have several stellar seniors back, including Nu‘u Contrades and recent basketball state tournament most outstanding player Aiva Arquette.
“It’s way too early with so many good players and coaches,” said Saint Louis coach George Gusman, who guided the Crusaders to an ILH title last year. There was no state championship back then, but the new season is back to some semblance of normal. Of course, that also means coaches are wary about any kind of distractions.
“No. 2? I don’t know. It’s hard to say,” Punahou coach Keenan Sue said. “I would rather be No. 10. It would motivate our guys more.”
Kamehameha, which one opposing coach says has the best pitching staff in the state, is at No. 3 to open the season. Coach Dunn Muramaru likes the position of his fifth-ranked Mid-Pacific Owls.
“We’re exactly where we belong,” he said.
Baldwin, Maui, Kailua, Mililani and Campbell round out the Top 10.
“In my opinion, landing at No. 6 after last week’s tournament is generous. We are clearly behind the ILH at this point, but the goal is to get there when it matters most,” Baldwin coach Craig Okita said.
In all, 20 teams received at least one vote.
No. 10 Campbell has faced a litany of top teams in preseason without shortstop Kamanui Saito. The senior is recovering from a leg injury suffered in February.
“We’ve got a big job ahead of us, and we’ve got a lot of young players,” Sabers coach Wayne Nagamine said. “Kamanui is out of his walking boot. He comes every day when he had the cast, the boot. Hopefully, he’ll be back at 100 percent by the end of the season. He has a bright future beyond high school.”
There has not been a state champion since 2019, when Punahou won the title with a 7-3 win over Mililani at War Memorial Stadium in Wailuku. The ’20 and ’21 state tournaments were cancelled.
Star-Advertiser Baseball Top 10
Mar. 7, 2022
Rank School (1st-place votes) Pts LW
1. Saint Louis (9) (8-0, 0-0 ILH) 96 NR
2. Punahou (3-1-1, 0-0 ILH) 82 NR
3. Kamehameha (4-0, 0-0 ILH) 70 NR
4. ‘Iolani (5-1, 0-0 ILH) 62 NR
5. Mid-Pacific (1) (6-1, 0-0 ILH) 45 NR
6. Baldwin (2-2, 0-0 MIL) 38 NR
7. Maui (0-3-1, 0-0 MIL) 33 NR
8. Kailua (0-3, 0-0 OIA) 28 NR
9. Mililani (1-4, 0-0 OIA) 22 NR
10. Campbell (0-5-1, 0-0 OIA) 16 NR
Also receiving votes: Maryknoll 14, Hilo 9, Waiakea 9, Kamehameha-Maui 7, Pearl City 6, Kalani 4, Kaiser 3, King Kekaulike 3, Roosevelt 2, Kamehameha-Hawaii 1.