St. Francis has been through some rough times this year.
The school announced it is closing at the end of this semester. The football team forfeited away a 9-0 season due to an ineligible player.
But the Saints’ athletes have persevered. The baseball team is one step away from winning the Division II baseball state championship.
“This is a talented team,” Kip Akana, coach of third-seeded St. Francis, said Friday after an 11-1, six-inning, mercy-rule victory over second-seeded Radford at Lihue’s Vidinha Stadium. “I’ve been telling these guys that they’re as good as any team in the state. Depth-wise … it holds us back at times. But on the field, the ballplayers and the senior leadership, these guys are gamers. It’s a great mix of kids and they deserve this.”
On the first official day of practice this season, the coach told them that they will be writing the school’s final chapter.
He reminded them again Friday.
“I got chicken skin when I told them that the final chapter won’t be written today but it will be written tomorrow. … It’s up to them how they will be remembered. This will be history.”
James Yamasaki tossed a two-hitter and also had a double and three RBIs for the Saints.
Other big offensive contributors in the win were Reece Kadota (double, stolen base), Makana Poole (3-4, triple, bunt hit, three runs scored, two RBIs, two stolen bases), Bubba Akana (2-3, stolen base, RBI), Darian Kamibayashi (stolen base) and Chase Akana (sacrifice fly).
Kadota’s grandmother Nora Nakahara, who went to all of Reece’s games until this year and is in hospice battling cancer, is the team grandma that all of the players are playing for. They have a purple heart sticker with her initials on the back of their helmets and on the team lineup board. They kiss their fingers and touch the heart on the lineup board before every game.
“Every game we play always dedicate to Reece’s grandma,” Poole said. “Everything we do is for her.”