Great ‘Bows Baseball In 2010
Wednesday - February 17, 2010
I ran into Mike Trapasso a couple of weeks back and despite a calm outward demeanor, I could tell he was already excited about the upcoming season. He should be - the ‘Bows are going to be good!
“Our strength will be our returnees,” the University of Hawaii baseball coach says. “We were in the top 25 (in the nation) for about four or five weeks last year, and many of those guys were young then. Now, they have another year under their belts, so with all these returnees, I expect us to play well.”
The baseball ‘Bows jump right into the national spotlight in their opening series. Tenth-ranked Oregon State, the team that won back-to-back national championships a couple of years ago, comes to town for a four-game set starting Friday, Feb. 19, at 6:35 p.m. Games two and three are afternoon 1:05 starts on Saturday and Sunday, followed by a getaway game at 5:05 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22.
“This will be a good experience for us,” Coach Trap says. “If it was up to me, we’d play top 10-teams every week. They’ve become a model program the last few years - and once they got over the hump of getting to the World Series and then winning it, they’ve had some great recruiting classes.”
Oregon State is one of several top teams that Hawaii will face this year. The long homestand of early non-conference games continues with Oregon, Citadel, USC and Air Force coming to Honolulu before the ‘Bows hit the road for some tough contests at Long Beach State, Cal-State Fullerton and San Diego. Then, it’s back home again for Gonzaga to finish the non-conference season, followed by the very tough WAC.
“The last I saw we were 22nd in the nation in strength of schedule,” he says. “That’s so important to have a strong RPI (strength of schedule percentage index), and the non-conference schedule is what dictates that.”
Hawaii was picked to finish third in the conference preseason poll, right behind Fresno State and New Mexico State. Three players garnered preseason all-conference mention: pitcher Nathaniel Klein, shortstop Greg Garcia and out-fielder Sean Montplaisir.
The name surprisingly left off that list was last year’s freshman sensation and all-WAC outfield and slugging star Kolten Wong. The youngster from the Big Island was an instant hit a year ago, and Trap says he’s expecting big things again from him this season.
“You always see the biggest jump between the freshman and sophomore years,” he says. “That’s because the physical maturity and emotional maturity start catching up with each other. Kolten’s a great kid, and he knows what to expect now.”
Wong and all of the ‘Bows want to get off to a red-hot start like they did a year ago when the old-time baseball magic returned to Les Murakami Stadium. But Trap also knows that it’s important to finish as strong as they start.
“It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” he says. “Last year, we were a top-25 team after 40 games, but we struggled the last 15. I’d much rather see us finish strong. With another year of maturity from all of our returnees, as well as some good newcomers, I think we’ve got the right makeup.”
It all starts with the Hawaii-Oregon State series, where baseball fans will get four early games to catch two of the top teams in the country. As a baseball fan for years myself, I know I was extremely excited about last year’s strong run, and I look forward to getting back to the stadium to cheer on the ‘Bows this year. The games were fun, the team was exciting and you could feel the electricity in the air.
Yes, the baseball excitement is back in Manoa. Join Coach Trap and the ‘Bows for a 2010 season that could turn out to be one for the memory books.
See you at Murakami Stadium!
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