West Maui all-stars competing in District III Tournament
LAHAINA — Manu Kenolio has been around West Maui Little League Baseball for a long, long time. The 14-year veteran coach and groundskeeper is a pillar of the organization and should list his permanent address as Lahaina Recreation Center Field #1.
Now Kenolio leads the WMLL Major Division (11- and 12-year-olds) into the District III Tournament from July 2-9 at Dorvin Leis Field at Kalama Park in Kihei. The first pitch is slated for 7 p.m.
He will be flanked by his trusty sidekick with the league champion Orioles, Darren Opunui, as well as Royden Ginoza from the Cardinals in the dugout for the Lahaina team in their quest to bring the youth baseball glory of days gone by back to the West Side.
Also lending a hand and glove to the development of the team are practice coaches Gary Gatiuan, Kawehi Akiona, Jason Keanini and Byron Kalua.
The league champion O’s are represented on the roster by Kia Kenolio Dusenberry, Josh Rodriques Kenolio, Hunter Ramelb, Joseph Campos and Scotty Medeiros; from the runner up Cards are J.D. Rosario, Parker Welck and Roen Ginoza; Sky Freeman from the White Sox; and representing the Red Sox on the 2010 team are Austin Arakawa, Kyle Shultz and Micah Akamine, as well as alternates Cooper Vanderlaan and Tahj Kruck.
“We’re really young with six 11-year-olds on the team this year, so we’re going to try to use speed and defense to get an advantage in the tournament,” explained Coach “K” last week from the LRC Field, as he put the boys through their final preparations for the opener last Friday night.
“We’ve got two good control pitchers that are consistent and can keep the ball down in the strike zone, and we hope to let our defense make some plays,” he continued.
“With only one player returning from last year’s all-star team, and with so many elevens on this year’s team, we need them to be ready for a big crowd and a lot of noise for these games. I think we’ll be all right if the boys can block out the big crown and not get rattled. In our two weeks of practice, they’ve been impressive — getting stronger arms and gaining more confidence with the defense. We’ll surprise some of those guys over there, I’m sure.”
The venerable veteran coach said he’ll be around for some time to come, as he has a six-month-old grandson coming up — no doubt he has a baseball glove in one hand and a bat in the other.
“I’ll be around for 12 more years, at least. Hopefully, during that time, we can get some continuity going with the youth baseball programs here on the West Side. Baldwin baseball is very successful in this way — they have the systems in place all up and down the youth leagues flowing to the high school team. That’s what we want to establish over here — getting everyone on the same page to make the flow through all stages the same and flow up to the high school team. That’s how you build a successful program,” he concluded.