The Maui News 2019 MIL Baseball All-Stars: Haole, Nakayama do it all
MIL Players of the Year helped lead their teams from multiple positions
Kaipo Haole and Kaimana Nakayama have a lot in common on the baseball diamond.
Both play multiple positions. Both are the unquestioned leaders for their Maui Interscholastic League championship teams.
And both are the choices of the league’s coaches as The Maui News MIL Players of the Year, Nakayama in Division II for Molokai High School, and Haole a rare unanimous choice in Division I for Baldwin.
“It feels pretty good, I feel like it paid off, all the hard work I put in at practice and at home,” Haole said.
For Haole, his senior season was a slight disappointment simply because it ended in the third-place game of the Wally Yonamine Foundation/HHSAA state tournament at Maehara Stadium.
“I had a lot of fun, having a good time with all the boys,” Haole said. “I’m kind of missing it, you know, playing alongside the other seniors and all the underclassmen.”
Haole is joined on the D-I first team by Baldwin teammates Ben Zeigler-Namoa, Roy Meinen, Cade Kalehuawehe, Kaaimoku Dukelow, Adam Yamashita, Reyn Okita, Haku Dudoit and Baba Varner; Konnor Palmeira and Tristan Catan of Kamehameha Maui; and Tyrell Ruiz of Maui High.
Haole’s career is one that may take a while to be matched in the MIL.
He was an integral part of two state championship teams — he started on the mound and won the 2016 state final over Pearl City as a freshman and he was the No. 1 pitcher on the 2018 state champs that finished ranked No. 8 in the nation by USA Today.
In 2018, he allowed just seven hits and no runs in 22 innings on the mound in MIL play, when he also hit .333 with a team-high 14 RBIs.
This season, he was 5-0 again in MIL play with a 0.96 ERA, 34 strikeouts and 10 hits allowed in 28 innings pitched. He hit .388 as a senior.
Throwing in two state tournament wins, Haole was 12-0 for the Bears over the last two seasons in league and postseason play while Baldwin was building a 45-5-2 overall record.
Haole can remember losing just once on the mound in his entire life, in the world championship game of the Pony World Series in 2016 when he took the “L” against Chinese Taipei.
He is visited San Mateo College and Fullerton College in Southern California over the weekend as he seeks a place to continue his career. Pierce College in Puyallup, Wash., is also an outside possibility.
“Pretty excited, just pretty excited,” Haole said of his future.
Baldwin’s Shane Dudoit, the MIL Coach of the Year in D-I who is also a scout for the Texas Rangers, sees a special future for Haole.
“It’s difficult to single out one person on a team that has been as successful as Baldwin has been in the last four years, but just Kaipo’s athletic ability — hitting and fielding — and most importantly being the pitcher that he was, made him stand out,” Dudoit said. “When coach Tyson (Higa) decided early on in our season that he wanted Kaipo to be our Day 1 starter, it was a good move for us and it gave us the best chance to go up 1-0 in the first game of any series.
“Because of his success in the past, and his success against very good teams in state tournaments, in the MIL tournaments, I mean, he is going to go down in history as one of the better pitchers to come out of the MIL.”
Nakayama, a junior who plays catcher, center field and pitcher for the Farmers, is joined on the D-II first team by teammates Iokepa Pelekane, Saven Kaahanui, Kanoa Lealoa-Hiro and Gavin Ainoa; Seabury Hall’s Parker Almeida, Devin Palazzotto-Cluney, Jacob Luther and Quintin Tanaka; Lanai’s Naighel Calderon and Kian Tubera; and St. Anthony’s Hunter Otani.
Nakayama is the youngest son of Molokai’s two-time state-championship coach Ken Nakayama and the younger brother of 2000 consensus state player of the year Apana Nakayama, who went on to star at BYU.
“To me, baseball is a team sport, all credit goes to the team,” Kaimana Nakayama said. “Without the team I wouldn’t have been able to perform the way I did. So, to become player of the year, it’s great and all, but in the end it is always a team sport and effort.”
The Nakayama household has a trophy case with several Molokai baseball memorabilia items, including several trophies won by Apana Nakayama.
“Apana taught me a lot,” Kaimana Nakayama said. “He taught me from being patient in the box when I hit, to have better work ethic and practicing at home. He taught me my swing, he taught me how to catch, and he always referred back to my dad if I had any more questions.”
Keahi Rawlins, the MIL D-II Coach of the Year for the Farmers, was a state-championship teammate of Apana Nakayama. Rawlins enjoyed a standout career at the University of Hawaii from 2003-07.
Kaimana Nakayama led a team that featured seven freshmen and just one senior.
“He was a great leader,” Rawlins said of Kaimana Nakayama. “From the beginning when I found out I got the job to coach, he was the only guy there for the early workout and he was still excited. He got excited early and we kicked it off from there.
“We just talked story that day because it was just me and him. I wanted to see his mindset on baseball. I kind of picked at his brains a little — he was excited to play ball and you could tell by his play and his passion for the game.”
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org