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Experienced Lunas must gain confidence as a team

By Staff | Mar 18, 2010

LAHAINA — For fifth-year Lahainaluna High School baseball coach Gary Gatiuan, it is all in “the game.”

The task for Gatiuan and his staff made up of Justin Deleon, Jason Keanini, Keone Kaina, Manu Kenolio, Mark Kalawaia and Kawehi Akiona thus becomes the mentoring of the intricacies of “the game” to the 2010 Lunas’ roster.

According to Coach Gatiuan, Lahainaluna looks to be an experienced team on paper, yet the struggle continues on the field in the situational aspects of the game.

“We have players returning and we’re a veteran team, but we still need to know what to do in game situations. Our focus is to make the kids understand that all 21 players on the roster play a role in the success of the team, and they all need to keep their heads in the game,” he said.

The Lunas compiled a 5-9 record in the 2009 Maui Interscholastic League season to finish in third place in the final standings.

The hopes to move up in 2010 may rest in the arms of the Lahainaluna pitching staff.

“Our strength is definitely our pitchers, as we have five that have been with us since the ninth grade,” Gatiuan explained from the dugout of the Lunas’ practice field at the Lahaina Recreation Center last week.

“We’re hitting the ball well, and we just need to gain confidence as a team. It’s an unselfish group that backs each other up, so I think we’re a work in progress that is moving in the right direction.”

Lahainaluna finished preseason play last week and will open up the 2010 MIL season with a three-game set beginning on Thursday, March 18, against Baldwin.

All 12 regular season games will be played at Iron Maehara Stadium in Wailuku through mid-April. The single-elimination MIL tournament will then start on April 20 at the same venue, followed by the state playoffs in Honolulu.

Returnees include seniors Kody Kahaialii, Zach Corpuel, Sam Kiek and Tyler Vanderlaan; juniors LJ Kalawaia, Kilo Medeiros, Hoku Arriaga, Kona Medeiros, Melechi Olevao and Jared Vasquez; and sophomores JR Kenolio Dusenberry, Marcus Badua and Dustin Ompoy.

Newcomers to the team are 11th-grader Junior Valdez, sophomore Spencer Ishikawa and freshmen Rhys Lindio, Blake Ramelb and Julian Bel-Robert. 

“Our overall goal is to raise interest in baseball here on the West Side,” Coach Gatiuan said. “We’re making progress in the right direction with our coaching staff going to coaching clinics in Irvine, California, and with the community support we’ve received over the years. As a coaching staff, we are extremely grateful to the players, their parents, the coaches at all levels and the school administration for their efforts in bringing success to the program. Thank you to all for your support, and especially to our wives for their patience and behind the scenes work.”