Nora Nakahara never missed a baseball game in grandson Reece Kadota’s career at St. Francis — until this year.
Nakahara, a loving team grandma for the Saints, is ill and under the care of hospice, according to St. Francis coach Kip Akana.
But the team honors her every game.
“We’ve dedicated the season to her,” said Bubba Akana, one of the seniors on the team. “Her favorite color is purple, so we have a purple heart with her initials on it on the back of our helmet and on the lineup board. Every game, we go pray for her, go to the lineup board, kiss our fingers and press the heart to get us ready for battle. We know that we’re playing for something much bigger.”
Kadota is a junior catcher and a utility player with the team. Reece’s mom and Nora’s daughter, Tricia Nakahara, is a former UH Hilo softball player.
“Reece’s mom made Reece into the spunky player that he is,” Kip Akana said. “But before Reece, Reece’s granny made Tricia the player she once was.
“Granny never did miss a game and sat right behind the backstop. She is battling Stage 4 cancer.”
Third-seeded St. Francis defeated Konawaena 11-5 on Thursday at Vidinha Stadium to advance to the Division II semifinals of the Wally Yonamine Foundation/HHSAA Baseball State Championships.
The Saints play second-seeded Radford on Friday in the semifinals at 3:30 p.m. at Vidinha.