HAWAII AJA MEMORIAL BASEBALL LEAGUE
The Hawaii AJA Memorial Baseball League will open the 2014-15 season on Sunday, Dec. 7, beginning at 10 a.m. The opening ceremonies will be followed by the second game of the doubleheader. The league will play a doubleheader every Sunday through March at Wong Stadium.
The league consists of three teams — defending champions Keaukaha Warriors, the Waiakea Pirates and the Corsairs. The Keaukaha Warriors team is managed by Bo Saiki and coached by Keith Aoki and Dino Canda. The Waiakea Pirates is managed by Bryce Onaga and coached by Rory Inouye, and the Corsairs team is managed by Hito Oshiro and coached by Dennis Sagawa.
The top two teams will battle for the overall league championship at the conclusion of the regular season. The winner of the championship game will be augmented by top league players and will represent the Hawaii AJA Memorial Baseball League in the State Championship Tournament.
The Hawaii AJA Memorial Baseball League officers are: Royden Okunami, president; Jimmy Miyake, first vice president and league manager; Wally Oki, second vice president; Sadao Aoki, secretary; and Charles Takahashi, treasurer. The directors and board members are: Karen Chaves, scorekeeper; Curtis Chong, publicity; Warren Miyasaki, umpire liaison; Randy Hirokawa, announcer; Rodney Sakamoto, statistician; Lenore Van-Gieson Serrao and Debbie Ota, scoreboard; and Russell Arikawa, Harry Suzuki and Glenn Uekawa. (Submitted by Royden Okunami, president of the Hawaii AJA Memorial Baseball League)
OAHU AJA BASEBALL ASSOCIATION
The Oahu AJA Baseball Association, which began play in 1924, will open its 87th season on Sunday, Dec. 14, with a doubleheader scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. at Hans L’Orange Field in Waipahu.
The 16-game regular season will be played Sundays and weeknights at Hans L’Orange Field and at the Central O‘ahu Regional Park in Waipi‘o. The six-team, double-elimination championship tournament will begin on Sunday, March 1, and culminate with the league champion being crowned on March 9.
Defending league champion Waipahu is being managed by Blane Muraoka and his strong core of veteran players, led by Shaun Kiriu, former three-time most valuable player (2009, 2010, 2011) and league championship tournament most outstanding player. Also boosting Waipahu are all-star Chevas Numata, most valuable player and most home runs leader; Zach Kometani, most RBI leader and all-star catcher; most inspirational player Nelson Inabata; and AJA career home run leader Moku Paiva.
O‘ahu playoff tournament second-place finisher Pearl City, behind manager Darryl Nitta, is hoping to win its first O‘ahu championship since 1981. Former Mid-Pacific Institute and Long Beach star Kip Matsuda, a batting champion and all-star first baseman, is returning to the lineup along with all-star outfielder Chris Goya. Two-time MVP Sean Yamashita and old-timer Daven Hermosura, both former UH pitchers, will lead the Pearl City staff.
Waialae will benefit from the experience of returning managers Karl Sadanaga and Kenny Nakamoto. The team will also have many players from their championship squad of a few years ago. All-star outfielder Davin Morita, stolen base leader David Chu, and veterans Kevin Higa and the Mols brothers will try to lead Waialae back to its glory days.
McCully’s co-managers, Steve Otani and Kyle Higuchi, will be returning with all-star and lowest ERA pitcher Nolan Kometani. Other returnees include third baseman Colby Ho, Duane Ito, Mason Suga, Gainor Nitta and the Uehara brothers (Scott, Andy, John). Former UH pitcher/outfielder Harrison Kuroda, workhorse Alvin Estes and veteran Jim Okano will assist Kometani.
For the first time in recent memory, Mililani advanced to last year’s Oahu championship playoff with its fifth-place finish during the regular season. Mililani’s new manager, Chad “Moonie” Uyehara, hopes to continue Mililani’s run to the playoffs with perennial all-star outfielder Waylen Sing Chow and the team’s new youngster core.
Longtime Ewa manager Fred Higa will be back leading the team. He is looking to his “all-stars” — Ryne Miyamoto, all-star pitcher with most wins and most strikeouts; all-star third baseman Brad Taura; all-star second baseman Reid Goto and AJA career stolen base champion Devin Oshiro — to help boost the Ewa team. Higa is also counting on veterans Colby Kagawa, Ryan Tanabe, Brandon Tanaka, Brandon Yamamoto, Lorin Nakagawa and former championship tournament most outstanding player Adam Inaba, a pitcher, and veteran Brandon Kameoka to lead Ewa back to the top.
New co-managers/players Doug Shimokawa and Reid “Diesel” Matsushima hope to lead Sheridan back to the playoffs after missing out last year. Sheridan’s returning veterans are Kevin Matsumoto, Jason Takamoto, defensive wizard Bryce Uegawachi and former all-star Reid Nomura.
Manoa will be under new management this year. Manager Ray Sakurai is looking to all-star shortstop Easton Torigoe, veteran pitcher Eric Lum and his son Jonny Sakurai to lead its rebuilding effort.
Kaneohe is also rebuilding with the youth and energy of its old-time coaches — Sheldon Murata, Clint Takekawa and Jeff Akamine, who are leading a young squad of Käne‘ohe natives.
The Oahu executive board has a combined total of 300-plus years of AJA Baseball experience, which the members tap in guiding the league. The board is led by president Wally Izumigawa and league manager Glen Higa, with support from returning board members Eddie Hayashi (60 years of AJA Baseball experience, beginning as a batboy in the 1960s); Tom Ishigo (40-plus years in AJA Baseball); treasurer Randy Inaba, former UH and Sheridan all-star ballplayer; 92-years-young Ken Takata; and Bert Yasui and Wendell Koga, board members since 1970s. The Oahu executive board welcomes all fans and supporters to attend the games and cheer on the players. (Submitted by Wally Izumigawa, president of the Oahu AJA Baseball Association)
KAUAI AJA BASEBALL ASSOCIATION
The Kauai AJA Baseball Association will kick off its 85th season of play on Sunday, Dec. 21, at the Vidinha Stadium in Lïhu‘e with opening ceremonies slated to start at 11:15 a.m. Games are scheduled for 9 a.m., 11:45 a.m. and 2 p.m. Thereafter, doubleheader games will be played on Sundays at either Vidinha Stadium or Hanapëpë Stadium at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. with a single game to be played at 11 a.m. The playoffs will begin March 8, 2015, with the champion crowned on March 22.
The Kauai league will again be made up of six teams — the Hanapepe Rivermen, Makaweli Indians, Kapaa Homesteaders, Kalaheo Farmers, Waimea Tsunami and the Lihue Townies.
Hanapepe Rivermen, the defending champions, will be managed by brothers Leroy and Wendell Nonaka. Leading the Rivermen is Brandon Hew, the 2013-14 championship tournament’s “all everything winner” (most outstanding player, batting champion, most RBI).
The Makaweli Indians, with managers Mel Nishihara and Russell Nakata, will be led by pitcher Jason Nakata, who pitched Kauai into last year’s state championship game by throwing a complete game against the Big Island.
Mikey Cardinez is returning for the Kapaa Homesteaders, which is managed by Ikaika Pezario. Cardinez pitched a dramatic complete game and was the winning pitcher against Oahu in last year’s state championship game.
Other league returnees are Peter Ishibashi, who is managing the Kalaheo Farmers; Garrett Agena and Bruce Hiraoka, managers of the Waimea Tsunami; and Lihue Townies manager Curtis Matsumura.
The Kauai Association is again being led by president Tom Shigemoto, first vice president Brian Yamase, second vice president and league manager Mel Nishihara, treasurer Russell Maeda and secretary Gerald Ako. Kauai AJA Baseball honors the tradition of a special league played by our great-grandfathers, grandfathers and fathers. We encourage and welcome all fans and supporters to attend the games. (Submitted by Tom Shigemoto, president, Kauai AJA Baseball Association)
MAUI AJA BASEBALL LEAGUE
Maui AJA Baseball has strengthened its league play by installing a board of directors to handle regular league functions. The league is led by board chairman and Asahi’s manager Dean Yamashita, assisted by league manager Eddie Espiritu. Rounding out the board are Happy Hour’s Ikaika Lau Hee, Daimyo’s Chase Corniel and Maui A’s Wesson Furomoto.
Our four-team league will open the 2014-15 season on Jan. 4, 2015, playing two games at the Maui High School baseball field in Kahului. The games will move to the Iron Maehara Stadium in Wailuku beginning Jan. 18, with two games played on Sundays and a single game played on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Sunday games will be played at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., while weekday games will start at 6:30 p.m. All games are limited to seven innings with an eight-run “Mercy Rule.”
The Maui AJA Baseball League is looking forward to hosting the 2015 State AJA Baseball Tournament scheduled for April 4 and 5 in Wailuku. So, if on Maui, come join us at the ball games! (Submitted by Eddie Espiritu, manager of the Maui AJA Baseball League)