WAIMEA — Michael Hughes won’t have to travel too far to take the next leap in his baseball career.
Wearing a green and orange throwback Hawaii cap, Hughes officially inked his letter of intent to play for the Rainbow Warriors last week.
Hughes had a few options on the table, but playing for his home-state squad was an opportunity he couldn’t turn away.
“I was looking at a few different schools, but really, this was a decision about family,” Hughes said. “That’s really important to me. Just leaving them was not something I wanted to do. Being just quick flight away is something that stood out to me. I also fell in love with the campus and the baseball program. That’s really what pulled me in.”
The Hawaii Prep senior said he’ll be a two-way player with the Rainbow Warriors, pitching and playing the outfield.
“It’s an exciting, unique opportunity for me,” Hughes said.
He said that it was during his freshman year that he started to get trickling interest from teams, throwing in the mid-80s. But natural talent can only get you so far. The reason Hughes gets to add another chapter to his baseball career is because of hard work.
“I worked on my own to become better,” Hughes said. “If you want to make it, it’s about investing the time and the hard work to get to the next level.”
Unlike some schools on the eastside of the island, where college and even MLB draft talent is almost commonplace, HPA does not have a reputation for churning out Division I talent. In fact, even those close to the program have a hard time recalling the last time a Ka Makani player signed to play at the D-I level.
While Hughes will be trading in his Ka Makani red for Hawaii green, he’s happy to represent for the school.
“It’s pretty crazy,” Hughes said. “When I was younger, I never thought I’d make it to even D-III. But HPA had a lot to do with me going Division I. I learned and grew a lot here. I’m super excited and this is just an unbelievable moment.”
Hughes will join a group of other former BIIF standouts on the ‘Bows roster. Stone Miyao (Waiakea), Dallas Duarte (Kamehameha), Tai Atkins (Kamehameha) and Daylen Calicdan (Kamehameha) all played their high school ball on the Big Island.
Mike Trapasso is Hawaii’s long-time head coach, recording a 501-499 record over his 18 seasons with the team. He’s led the Rainbow Warriors to 11 winning season, although times have harder of late. Hawaii finished the 2019 season with a 20-30 record, finishing seventh in the Big West.
Hurney heading to Virginia Tech
Another player with Ka Makani roots will be heading to the Division I level next season in Jonah Hurney.
Hurney played for Southwestern Oregon Community College in Coos Bay, Oregon last year, where he joined seven other players from Hawaii. As a left-handed pitcher, he started nine games for the Lakers, notching a 3-3 record. In 54.1 innings, Jonah struck out 74 batters.
He was named to the HHSAA all-tournament team as a utility player in 2017, when Ka Makani upset No. 2 Waianae behind Hurney’s complete game in the first round.
Hurney was born and raised in Waimea, where he was a three-sport athlete at HPA in cross country, basketball and baseball. Hurney will join the Hokies in Blacksburg, Virginia, after he completes his sophomore year at SWOCC.