It’s a new day for Lahainaluna High School baseball
LAHAINA — Lahainaluna High School baseball coach Gary Gatiuan is a person who manifests optimism.
He is a man who has battled a life-threatening health condition over the last two years or so, all the while enduring disappointing seasons with the Luna horsehiders, including a winless regular season in Maui Interscholastic League play last year and a meltdown in the post-season tournament the year before.
But it’s a new dawn, a new year and the renewal season of spring — and baseball is upon us.
Coach Gary had a scare a few months ago — a year after surgery to correct the condition — but subsequent tests have turned up clean. And the youth factor in the Lunas’ roster has invigorated the players and the coaching staff led by Gatiuan and including Justin DeLeon, Keone Kaina, Manu Kenolio, K.K. Kukahiko and Cory Takamura.
“We’ve got great team unity and chemistry, and a good blend of returning players and freshmen,” Coach Gary stated from the dugout at the Lahaina Recreation Center Field II last week.
“It’s amazing how these guys are gelling, being relaxed and expressing themselves to each other. They’re a good bunch of kids with a humble attitude that translates into not failing as individuals, but how everything is related to the team. This attitude will make us successful, because no one thinks they are better than anyone else.”
Leading this attitude are team captains Kona Medeiros, a senior, along with J.R. Kenolio-Dusenberry and Dustin Ompoy, both juniors. Senior returnees for the Lunas are Hoku Arriaga, Makana Cabagua and Jared Vasquez. Juniors on the squad this year are Marcus Badua, a returnee from last season, and first-time player Sosaia Moala.
Sophomore Julian Bel-Robert returned with classmates Blake Ramelb and Jared Arakawa. A sterling freshmen class is led by southpaw Kaimana Ancog, as well as Bronson Kaina, Kaimana Casco-DeLeon, Kepa Hamlin and Kamaka Barbosa Pamat.
The Lunas will play a 12-game MIL regular season that begins on March 17, with the championship tournament slated for April 20-24. All games will be played at Iron Maehara Stadium in Wailuku.
The MIL has two slots for the state tournament that will take place May 11-14 at U.H. Stadium in Honolulu.
“Things seem to be lining up for us with the players, parents, coaches and administration all coming on line to make things work,” said Gatiuan.
“The parents, the community at large, the girls in the office — Rae Matsumoto, Jean Miyahira, Ivy Huerter, and Debbie Rogers — (Athletic Director) Scott Soldwisch, the coaches and my wife, Ivy, all contribute to make things spin in the right direction. I appreciate them all.”