Maui Ahuna doesn’t have to look far to measure himself. The Hilo shortstop is a star-bright gem on the diamond, which is crowded at the top where the Big Island’s best reside.
Ahuna and Waiakea sluggers Kala’i Rosario and Safea Mauai have already made a name for themselves at the BIIF, state and MLB showcase/summer-ball levels.
It’s no surprise that Hilo captured the BIIF Division I championship.
It was Hilo’s turn, according to recent history. Since 2012, Waiakea has won the title in even-numbered years and Hilo in odd-numbered years.
The bigger race was for the top player, a three-horse derby that narrowly went to Ahuna, who was named the BIIF Division I player of the year by the league’s coaches, Hawaii Tribune-Herald, and West Hawaii Today, edging Waiakea’s Rosario and Mauai.
“I am truly honored to be voted BIIF player of the year. I would definitely thank Hilo coach Baba Lancaster and the rest of the BIIF coaches for voting for me. All the hard word throughout the year paid off.
“I tried to lead by example. This year we had only four seniors so I, along with the rest of the juniors, had to step up our game and become leaders on the team.”
Ahuna was a sparkplug with a .531 batting average, getting on base, advancing into scoring position and crossing the plate.
He batted 3 for 9 at the state tournament, where Hilo tied for third with Baldwin.
Like Ahuna, Rosario is a repeat first-team pick and batted .431. He was an unstoppable force at states going 5 for 9 with four RBIs, including a pair of two-run homers.
Mauai batted .417 and went 3 for 7 with three RBIs at states, where Waiakea upset St. Louis in the first round, then lost to Baldwin and Kamehameha-Kapalama.
The other first-team members are Hilo’s Ryan Cabreira, Dayson Urbanozo Moses, and Ocean Gabonia, Waiakea’s Stone Miyao, Cody Min, Cody Kunimitsu and Ty Honda.
Hilo’s Baba Lancaster was voted the BIIF coach of the year, after leading the Vikings to the BIIF title and a tie for third-place at states in his first year.
It’ll be a busy summer for Hilo’s three elite hitters, who’ll hit the road together to increase their draft stock for next June’s major league draft.
They’ll first compete at two MLB showcases in California. Then they’ll drive to Arizona for the Perfect Game national showcase, a scouting hotbed. They’ll play with the Trosky national team and with coach Kaha Wong for the Area Code tryouts.
Ahuna is still firm on his commitment to Kansas but he, Rosario and Mauai will likely have decisions to make depending how high they’re drafted.
Before that, he’s got his senior season left at Hilo and hopes to make a bigger dent at the state tournament.
“When I was a freshman, we won BIIFs and this year we also won BIIFs again, which is nice but the ultimate goal is to win states, and I have one more year to make that happen,” he said.
Of course, Ahuna’s ultimate goal is to get to the gold standard that Kolten Wong set: making it to the big leagues.
“My dad (Bully Ahuna) influenced me by pushing me harder and harder every day,” he said. “He has never given up on me and never gave me a day off He will keep me striving until I make it to the bigs.”
Maui Ahuna Hilo 11 INF
Ryan Cabreira Hilo 12 INF
Safea Mauai Waiakea 11 INF
Stone Miyao Waiakea 12 INF
Cody Min Waiakea 12 INF
Kala’i Rosario Waiakea 11 OF
Cody Kunimitsu Waiakea 12 OF
Dayson Urbanozo Moses Hilo 11 OF
Ocean Gabonia Hilo 12 P
Ty Honda Waiakea 12 P
Player of the Year
Maui Ahuna, Hilo
Coach of the Year
Baba Lancaster, Hilo
Hilo: Logan Wilson, Micah Freeman
Waiakea: Cody Hirata, Devon Hirata, Rysen Ross, Brandon Nakayama
Kealakehe: Howard Robert, Trent Kepano
Keaau: Bryant Respicio-Mercado, Ricky Rapoza, Edward Oguma