9-10 Minors (Cal-Ripken)
With excitement in the air, the kids boarded the plane in anticipation to play great competition! Our goals for this two weekend tournament was simple, get the kids great competition and become better ballplayers both mentally and physically! In order to advance to the following weekend’s (Gold) championship round, we would have to at least win one pool play game in order to advance! Right off the bat we drew one of, if not the best travel team in O’ahu named Go Nuts White! Excited at the challenge, but weary of our teams slow starts in past travel tournaments! Sure enough, right out the gate, our teams strength gave up some runs early which is our defense and after 2 innings, we were down 3-0! On offense, we faced the hardest thrower we’ve seen to date and boy was he bringing it! He struck out 3 of the first 4 batters in our lineup and at that point, we knew runs were going to be hard to muster! Although we kept plugging away, after 5 innings, we lost 11-1! A good wake up call for our kids as we had to forget about the loss and prepare for Manoa Orioles in 2 hours which became a do or die for us to advance out of our bracket! A “firm” talk with our kids before the must win got our kids ready for action. Game started slowly again, as our top of our lineup couldn’t set the tone for the game as we were held scoreless in the first inning! As the game went on, our pitching kept their bats quiet while ours started to wake up and the kids imposed their will and came away with a 13-2 victory! We were excited and relieved that we accomplished our goal of advancing to the gold round next weekend!
On Sunday, we set up a scrimmage game with KAC Club in Kahala. It was a wonderful experience as our kids got to get extra reps and KAC was wonderful with their hospitality as you could sense the genuine aloha of their coaches and parents in making our trip worthwhile. They even fed our Hui ‘ohana after our scrimmage! Much Aloha to KAC and if they should come to Hilo for any tournaments, we will be sure to take care of their team and families!
After a week of practice back home, we were in anticipation of our seeding for the championship round! The top 16 teams advance and we were given the 14th seed! A low seed which means that we were going to have to take out one of the top teams to advance! Our opponent was the #3 seed, Manoa Red Sox! We prepped the kids for a battle that will take a great game to win! We showed up Saturday at Manoa Valley ready to play and the game didn’t disappoint! Right out the gate, our top produced as we plate 2 runs in the first! Manoa answers back with 2 runs of their own! It stayed tied till the 4th when Hui plated 2 runs to make it 4-2! Manoa answered again with a run to keep it a 1 run game! With everyone on the edge of their seats, (including our Head Coach) the directions to our team in the top of 6th was to try and scrap out an insurance run to go up at least 2 runs! Boy, did we get a big run as we got a huge home run to make the score 6-4 going into the bottom of the 6th inning! With excitement in our dugout, we allow the first 2 batters to reach base and now the wheels are turning! We strike out the next batter, and get the next out with a fly ball to right field and their runner scored on a sac fly. The next batter gets beaned and steals second and now were up 5-4 with 2 outs with the tying run on 3rd and the winning run on 2nd! How’s that!! We were on pins and needles when our pitcher dug deep and struck out the next batter to win the game! Whew!!! Very proud of our kids to pull that one out! We escaped against a good team and advance to the final 8 teams and drew the 6th seed, Pacesetters on Sunday at 10 a.m! After our game, Manoa Orioles Bronco team and ‘ohana prepared a feast for our Hui at the complex! What a spread! Thank you Darrell Kitagawa for hosting us and your Manoa family! We would love for you guys to come to Hilo and we will definitely take care of your ‘ohana Hui Style!
We then had a treat for the kids as we took them to the opening game at Les Murakami Stadium to watch the UH Rainbows play against the Oregon Ducks! The highlight was that the kids got to run out with the Rainbow team into center field during the National Anthem! What a treat! Hui in the Hale!! All the parents got to seat together with our keiki and enjoy the game before a packed house!
On Sunday morning, we woke up to rain and more rain. We got to the field and it didn’t look good! By tournament rules, in case of rain, a coin toss will determine the winner and advance to the final four on Monday! Being that we were an outer-island team, I didn’t want it to come down to that! Manoa was nice enough to let us play through the rain, although all the other games in that time slot were cancelled and coins were flipped! Thanks to Pacesetters for agreeing to play! The game was a one sided battle as Pacesetters outplayed us on offense and defense! We could muster only one hit as we were just not ready for battle! Maybe the elements, I don’t know, but not the same team! Score ended up 10-0 and Hui’s run was over! (Maybe we should have flipped!) LOL! As we gathered up the troops, I took away a lot from this trip and in the end; the kids had some high moments along with some low ones. But all in all, it was a success as our goal as coaches was to show these kids that no matter what you do or accomplish in life, there is always someone better than you and hard work, determination and the attitude to never give up should always drive you to be the best! We will definitely see some of these kids again as some of them return to their Pony organizations and get ready for their seasons!
As we returned to Hilo and started our regular season, we have noticed a different attitude amongst every single Hui player during practices and games! It was a wakeup call that was worth every penny! Hopefully it continues into the summer and good luck to all our Hui teams! In order to be great, you have to STRIVE to be great! There is no other way!!! See you at the field! Game ON!