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West Maui Little League Baseball teams practicing to ‘Play ball!’

By BY WALTER CHIHARA - | Feb 12, 2021

The WMLLB Intermediate 50/70 Pirates include (from left): back row — Coach Pono Kuluhiwa-Kim, Wes Griffin, Chace Imamoto, Kaimana Ancheta, Joseph Lakovich, Keale Kuluhiwa-Kim, Tyson Keanini and Coach Desmon Haia-Shim; front row — Asher Halik, Wyatt Sharp, Kyren Malacas-Bagoyo, KolaiahVilla, Ty Branco-Gomes and Jacob Haia-Shim. Not pictured are coaches John Kim, Charles Ancheta and Troy Branco-Liu, and Team Moms Elsa Kim and Melissa Ancheta.

LAHAINA — The legacy of Little League Baseball here on the West Side began some 50 years ago and was carried forward through the efforts of community luminaries such as Bob Kawaguchi, Don Rosenthal, Brian Arakawa and so many others.

Today, that sterling tradition of youth sports continues as Amy Sharp leads West Maui Little League Baseball through the COVID-19 chaos of 2021. Despite the obstacles presented by the stifling pandemic, Commissioner Sharp heads up a dedicated board of directors in navigating the effort to get the kids on the field to “Play ball!”

The WMLLB 2021 Board of Directors includes President Amy Sharp, Vice President Marc Fair, Secretary Lori Roberts, Treasurer Cheryl Sinogo, Player Agent Mike Iwankiw, Umpire- in-Charge Jason Gilbert, Coaches Coordinator John Sharp, Safety Officer Dylan Stelly, League Communications Officer Meredith Medeiros and Members-at-Large Ali Bodick, Emmet Markulis and Karyn Murphy.

Commissioner Sharp reports that WMLLB has some 160 registered kids ages 4-13 that will make up the 13 teams of the organization. The Tee Ball division for four- to five-year-olds has a record number of six teams of ten players each, the Coach Pitch or Rookie category has two teams made up of six- to seven-year-olds, the Minors level of eight- to ten-year-olds has two teams, the Majors (age 11-12) has two teams, and there is one Intermediate 50/70 (pitching rubber is 50 feet from home plate, and bases are 70 feet apart) team for 12- and 13-year-olds.

West Maui Little League Baseball was required to develop a “Return to Play Plan” to be submitted to the County of Maui to obtain park permits. This was a very comprehensive plan that followed the CDC, WHO and all other federal, state and county guidelines.

Sharp expressed the league’s gratitude to the Little League District III manager for providing his unending support and guidance to WMLLB.

The WMLLB teams are currently practicing in preparation for games that will begin this week. Most games will be played on Tuesday and Friday afternoons at the Lahaina Recreation Center ballpark and at Napili Park. The Minors, Majors and Intermediate teams will have the opportunity to play interleague games with Central East Maui Little League (a national powerhouse that annually sends teams to Mainland postseason tournaments), Upcountry Little League and Kihei Little League. These games will be played on various locations around the island.

The WMLLB board made a decision not to actively seek sponsorships this year due to the hardship many businesses have faced due to the pandemic. The league decided to carry over the sponsors from the 2020 season after the league stopped play midway through the schedule.

Those sponsorships came from The Grand Wailea, Maui Resort Rentals, Kings Screenprinting, 5A Rent A Space, Makena Golf & Beach Resort, Duke’s Beach House Maui, UFO Parasail, Hula Grill, Westin Nanea, Round Table Pizza, Leilani’s on the Beach, Kane’s Legacy Tree Services, Merriman’s, Down The Hatch and Teppanyaki To Go.

“We would like to take this time to send a BIG MAHALO to our sponsors who have supported us throughout the 2020 and 2021 seasons! For anyone who has questions or wishes to contribute to WMLLB, please contact us at westmauibaseball@gmail.com. Thank you,” Commissioner Sharp concluded.