Major domination by Central
MAKAWAO – If there was any doubt left about how good Central East Maui Little League is, Jayden Tabisola flashed one more impressive aspect in the final inning of the District III Majors Division (11-12) tournament Wednesday.
Tabisola leapt to catch a ball above the center-field fence, robbing West Maui’s Kamu Kanaha of a home run at the Eddie Tam Complex.
It was a footnote in Central Maui’s 15-0, four-inning win in the championship game, but it magnified the defense this team can play to go along with its impressive hitting and pitching.
CEMLL outscored its four tournament opponents 57-4, never going past the fourth inning due to the 10-run mercy rule. Cade Kalehuawehe hit six of the team’s 18 home runs.
“We feel pretty confident right now,” said Kalehuawehe, who will be an 8th-grader at Iao Intermediate School in the fall.
Central East Maui will play a best-of-3 series against Hilo on the Big Island from July 12-13. The winner advances to the state tournament July 17-21 on Oahu.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Kalehuawehe said.
Kaipo Haole pitched the first 3 1/3 innings on Wednesday, giving up one hit with one walk and four strikeouts. Haole is the team’s co-captain, along with Kalehuawehe – Haole is the shortstop when he is not pitching and Kalehuawehe is the second baseman when he’s not on the mound.
“This is probably going to give us a lot of confidence when we go up to Hilo,” said Haole, a rising 8th-grader at St. Anthony. “We’re pretty good.”
Haole smiled when asked about his middle-infield partner.
“He’s good, he’s awesome, he can pound the ball,” Haole said of Kalehuawehe.
CEMLL bounced out quickly in the title game, scoring 12 times in the bottom of the first inning. Central hit six home runs on Wednesday and Konnor Palmeira led the way at the plate, smacking two homers in a 3-for-3 day that included six RBIs.
Andre Beaudoin, Kamaheo Ching, Kalehuawehe and Tabisola all added home runs and all four had at least two RBIs.”We have a good hitting team, we take care of the ball – we had only one error in the tournament – we had 17, 18 home runs, unbelievable,” said Central head coach Napa Kaupe. “I think we had 60-something runs out of four games. I just told the kids, ‘Don’t stop here.’ “
Kaupe was the manager of a state-championship Little League Majors Division team for Central in 2011.
“I think these boys here are strong enough to keep up with Hilo, but I have been hearing that Waipio is really strong this year,” Kaupe said. “That will be the team for either Hilo or Maui to be ready for (at state).”
When pressed, Kaupe said this team is nearing the realm of the 2011 state champs.
“We have a great defensive team, a great hitting team, we have a lot of pitching,” Kaupe said. “Like you said, when compared to the 2011 state champions, these kids are pretty much up there.”
West Maui manager Jason Kanaha was impressed after his team lost two games to CEMLL by a combined total of 31-2.
“Oh man, they are not afraid to swing at anything, they are an awesome team – I think they can go far,” Kanaha said. “This is the biggest package team that Maui has seen in a while. Every year, we have good teams, but this might be the one.
“I’m proud of my guys, we have a real young team, and just going up against them will help us a lot.”
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ben Zeigler, Anu McCabe (2), Liam Chadli (3) and Ross Panlasigui; Kaipo Haole, Keinv Varner (4) and Mochi Dukelow. W-Haole. L-Zeigler. 2B-Central East Maui: Roy Meinen, Isaiah Duarte. HR-Central Maui: Konnor Palmeira 2, Cade Kalehuawehe, Andre Beaudoin, Kamahao Ching, Jayden Tabisola.
Leading hitters-Central East Maui: Beaudoin 2-2, 2 runs, 2 RBIs; Palmeira 3-3, 2 runs, 6 RBIs; Ching 2-2, run, 2 RBIs; Haole 2-3, 3 runs.