Aiea’s First Little League Champs

Steve Murray
Wednesday - July 23, 2008
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Hawaii’s haul of Little League hardware surely didn’t end with Ewa Beach’s 2005 World Championship in Williamsport, Pa. On July 2, a squad of Aiea all-stars brought home the area’s first state title in the 9-10 age group with a victory over the Nanakuli/Ma’ili squad at Barbers Point Baseball Complex.

Practice for the champs began June 5, with games getting under way two weeks later with the squad chosen mostly by the players themselves. Manager Terry Fuel-las said he and the coaches only picked four of the 14 members and that when it comes to evaluating talent, the kids are as good as the adults.

“The kids know the kids better than anyone else,” he said. “It always works out every year. They end up picking the correct kids. Every year you wonder, ‘I don’t know about this kid or that kid,’ and the kids always get it right on the head. You take the ballot and give it to the coaches to pick and you tell kids to pick - it comes out basically the same.”

Those in the lineup this season were Jaryn Nakamoto, Joshua Dulaney, Adam Tanoue, Cody Azuma, Nicholas Tokuhama, Shae Ishimoto, Greg Naguwa, Lucas Aribon, Jayvin Alcantra, Kawika Fuellas, Brent Shimoda, Treyton Kong, Ian Fujitani and Austin Horio. In addition to manager Fuellas, keeping the team in top form were coaches Duane Kong and Duane Horio.

Aiea’s march to the title was much harder than its 4-1 championship tournament record would suggest. Throughout the district tournament and the finals, the team found itself down late on enough occasions to cause some worry. Not, of course, for the players - who finished each game with a potluck lunch and more running around - but for the parents in the stands.

“It was very nerve-wracking,” said Sheri Miyasato-Aribon, mom of 10-year-old Lucas. “We were down sometimes 5-0 in the fifth inning, and they rallied to win the game. And that just didn’t happen once ... it happened in the district and state tournament. That, to me, is amazing.

“The coaches were right: Each kid had a special place on the team and contributed where it was needed to win the championship.”

Now with the season completed and the trophy in-hand, it’s time for the players to take a much-needed break. Many of the youngsters have been going at it nonstop since September of last year, and they need the rest ... almost as much as their parents do.

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