Hawaiians made long trip for WWBA tournament

Tournaments : : Story
Jim Ecker        
Published: Friday, July 10, 2009

MARIETTA, Ga. -- The ABD Warriors took the field at 9 a.m. Friday for their game in the World Wood Bat Association 17U National Championships, bright-eyed and eager even though it was 3 a.m. back home in Hawaii.

"When you think about it, it's pretty weird," said Myron Kini Enos, a shortstop and pitcher for the Warriors. "But since we've been here at least a week-and-a-half, you kind of get used to it. It's kind of regular now."

The Warriors played in the 18U National Championships here in Georgia from June 30 to July 6 and performed very well, compiling a 4-1 record against players who were a year older and more experienced. Since the Warriors came so far, they figured it made sense to stay in Georgia and enter the 17U tournament this week as well. It's paid off, because they had a 2-1-1 record in pool play through Friday.

"It shows the kids that we can compete against the mainland kids," said Paul Tamashiro, one of the coaches for the Hawaiians. "It's the kids playing their hearts out for us. It's a great accomplishment."

Colyn Carmichael and Paula Kenolio, two of the mothers who made the journey, figured it costs $3,000 to $4,000 per person to make the trip from Oahu and stay in Georgia for two weeks, counting plane fare, hotels, rental cars, food and incidentals.

"We don't have programs or showcases like this back in Hawaii," Colyn Carmichael said. "You know, we looked at it as an investment in our children's future."

There have been more than 500 college and pro scouts at these tournaments. There were 190 teams in the 18U tournament and 192 teams in the 17U field, spread over 23 locations. Each team plays five pool games, followed by the playoffs for pool champs, so it's a lot of baseball against some of the top travel teams in the country.

"We're kind of amazed at all the fields, and the quality of the fields," Steve Holt said while the Warriors were playing on Diamond 1 at the impressive East Cobb Complex in Marietta, Ga. "None of our fields look like this. It's really kind of neat to be able to go to all the different high schools and colleges and see the quality of the fields."

Holt and his wife, Deanna, are here with all six of their children, including Harley Holt, a pitcher and middle infielder for the Warriors. That's eight people flying from Hawaii to Georgia and staying in a hotel for two weeks. Steve Holt said his wife has a "benevolent uncle" who made the trip possible.

"It's been great," he said.

Two of the Warriors helped Hawaii win the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., in 2005. Layson Kaeo Aliviado is a 5-foot-4, 135-pound outfielder and pitcher, but he was not overmatched by his bigger opponents here Friday. Myron Kini Enos also played for the Little League champs and has enjoyed returning to the mainland for the WWBA tournament.

"It's a great experience. There's a lot of talent here," said Enos. "It's just great to see what we've got and play at their level."

Enos knows it's been an expensive trip.

"I appreciate it a lot," he said. "My dad had to sacrifice a lot. He had to pay for the flights and stuff. It's a lot of money that he invested in me, so I really appreciate it."

The Warriors joined the California-based ABD program last year, seeking stiffer competition, and credit Mike Spiers, Perfect Game's West Coast Director, for helping them develop. This is their first trip to the mainland for a tournament, and they all agreed it's been worth the effort.

"We don't get this kind of competition at home, so it's something different. It's good for everybody," said Christian Keanu Carmichael, one of the team's pitchers.

Tamashiro said it's not hard to get the kids off the beaches and onto the baseball fields in Hawaii.

"The kids who want to play baseball, play baseball, and they still can enjoy going to the beach," he said. "The kids who do enjoy baseball, that comes first, and whenever they have free time, they still find time to go down to the beach."

Tamashiro said youth baseball is growing in Hawaii, with year-round leagues now.

"There are good players in Hawaii," he said. "We've just got to get them out."
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