Lahaina Heat reaches title game in Mainland baseball tournament
LAHAINA – With specialization starting at earlier ages than ever before, coupled with changing timetables of the most popular youth sports, baseball here on the West Side has taken a hit over the last decade or so. Kids nowadays are narrowing their focus to one or two sports, youth baseball seasons are moving into the winter months, and, unfortunately for baseball in Lahaina, not many gifted athletes outside of Central Maui find the time or inclination to play America’s game here on the Valley Isle.
That all might be changing with the emergence of the Lahaina Heat Nine and Under youth baseball team that traveled to the Mainland last month to compete in the Amateur Athletic Union-sanctioned “Fight On 4 The Cure” Tournament in Las Vegas.
The Heat, made up of Lahaina area youths ages 7-9, reached the Silver Division championship game of the tournament after sweeping a double header on Saturday, and then winning two more before falling in the championship game on Sunday.
Still, the youngsters, some who have never had the opportunity to take a trip to the Mainland, were able to experience the thrill of victory on a big stage in a new and exciting environment.
“All of these ten players came home with a win, a championship ring, a banner and a bond with each other like no other,” said Team Mom Elsa Kim last week.
Kim went on to express the organization’s gratitude to their island home. “We reached our goal with the help of the entire Maui community and businesses that made generous donations to get us there. Mahalo to all!”
The Lahaina Heat player roster included Rachel Pagdilao, Jairus Nahooikaika, Keale Kuluhiwa-Kim, Teyvon Kahalewai, Kame’e Sawyer-Mahoe, Isaac Gosselin, Kyren Malcas Bagoyo, Christopher Mallari, Kapono Easley and Tyson Keanini.
The team’s coaching staff was made up of John Kim, Rodell Pagdilao, Jessie Nahooikaika, Leyton Kahalewai, Jaysen Easley and Joe Gosselin, and the Team Moms were Elsa Kim and Cheryol Sinogo.
“Our goal was to take these Maui kids to the Mainland – some who have never been – play some baseball and come home with a win. It sure opened our eyes of so much more baseball out there. At the same time we were part of a tournament… that was able to donate to a great cause,” Kim concluded.