Nobu Yamauchi RBI softball coach Tracy Miyashiro isn’t going to lie. He likes the hand he’s drawn heading into the West Regional in Los Angeles.
Moana Pinner is back and brings one year of college experience to the table, and the steady core of recent high school graduates includes Waiakea’s Brandee Chinen and Kamehameha’s Jessica Cameros, each among the best players in their respective BIIF division in 2018.
Kamehameha senior Brooke Baptiste has a chance to resume her role as ace for Miyashiro, who always like to bring different parts of the island into the mix at the Hilo-based club. This season, Konawaena sophomore Jayla Medeiros is on the team after a stellar BIIF campaign, and there is the usual Kohala representation with Symphony Kauanoe and Antonette Fernandez.
“I’ll be honest,” Miyashiro said Thursday in telephone interview on the eve of regionals, “this team is pretty good. It’s kind of up there. As far as teams that I’ve had, we’re up there (talent-wise).”
The veteran coach was an assistant when Nobu Yamauchi won its last World Series in 2009. Most recently, Miyashiro coached Hawaii to West Region titles in 2017 and 2015.
The 18-and-under team begins it regional title defense Friday at the three-day tournament with games against Anaheim and Arizona, and among the available arms are Baptiste, who pitched a two-hitter in the clincher last year, Cameros, Kauanoe and Mia Joaquin.
Joaquin, set to enter Kealakehe High, is one of two freshman on the team along with Kayla Kodani of Waiakea.
Pinner, a 2017 Hilo High grad who hit .385 during her freshman season at Division II Kentucky State, is the ‘old lady’ of the group.
“It’s always good to have a player who brings college experience,” Miyashiro said, “and Moana could make a big difference for us. Kind of like (Kamehameha grad) Makena (Wagner) did last season.”
Medeiros impressed Miyashiro during the winter league season.
Shaily Moses brings a productive bat as well. The recent Waiakea grad along with Kauanoe, Cameros, Baptiste and Chinen are trying to get to their third world series.
“Our defense has looked strong in a couple of scrimmages,” Miyashiro said.
What’s unknown is the competition. In the past, it’s run the gamut from shaky to stellar.
“No scouting,” Miyashiro said. “Everything is up in the air, but I like (the group) that I have.”
In all, seven teams from the Big Island are in action this weekend off-island in either baseball or softball.
Also starting regionals Friday in Los Angeles are the Nobu Yamauchi RBI senior (16-18) and junior (13-15) teams.
• Baba Lancaster’s Hilo Little League All-Stars start play at the state tournament for ages 12-under on Saturday on Oahu, taking on Maui.
• North Hawaii Little League plays Maui at noon Friday to start the minors (10-under) state tournament on Oahu.
• Gold Coast has a pair of teams at softball regionals on the mainland. The Little Leaguers are in San Bernardino, Calif., and take on defending champion Utah on Saturday. The Senior Leaguers (ages 16U) begin play Friday in Missoula, Montana.