Dudoit planning for future
After senior season cut short, Baldwin grad sets sights on MLB draft, graduate school
While his baseball career at Concordia University Irvine may have ended, perhaps it is the way it began that best illustrates what Haloa Dudoit meant to the program.
It was a recommendation from major league veteran Kurt Suzuki that ended up sending Dudoit to the Eagles. Once Dudoit got there, he played every inning at shortstop for all 171 games of his career.
Suzuki and Dudoit are both Baldwin High School graduates — Suzuki in 2001, Dudoit off of a state title in 2016. The Dudoit and Suzuki families are close, and Suzuki was a teammate of CUI head coach Joe Turgeon at Cal State Fullerton, including on the 2004 NCAA championship team.
“It’s crazy,” Dudoit said via phone from home on Maui Wednesday. “I mean, I’m so grateful for the Suzukis — him, Aunty Renee, the kids. He helped me a lot, he saw that I had some of what it takes. He knows my game well and I think that’s really cool. He knows how I play, the type of game that I play. He knows that I’m not going to hit 10 bombs in a season.”
When Suzuki called with the idea of going to the program that was being taken over by his former teammate at Fullerton, Dudoit knew he found his college landing spot.
“He knows where I would fit as a program and him reaching out to me and saying he thinks Concordia would be a good fit — I mean, I trust him,” Dudoit said. “He’s been in the big leagues, he definitely knows what he’s talking about, so I trust him. And I took a chance and I’m thankful that Coach Turgeon took a chance on me as well.”
Dudoit added Turgeon had “never seen me play, but I know Coach Turgeon trusts Kurt a lot, too. So coming from Kurt, that kind of was it. Really crazy. It all moved quickly, but I’m super grateful.”
With the uncertainty of the Major League Baseball draft due the coronavirus pandemic — for now, it is set for June 10-12 — and the likelihood that he will have the option of another year of eligibility from the NCAA, Dudoit’s career at CUI may have another year to go.
“I’m going to miss him dearly, man,” Turgeon said. “Not just the baseball player, but from the family that he comes from and the person that he is. He’s been a mainstay at shortstop for us, every single inning of every game since he stepped on campus his freshman year.
“So, obviously that’s vital and it’s hard to replace the position at shortstop, but it’s hard to replace a leader that you can count on as a coaching staff — whatever it is on the field or off the field — so I’m going to miss a lot of that.”
That is not all that Turgeon will miss, if he has seen the last of Dudoit in the green and gold uniform. Dudoit routinely gives rides to the Turgeon kids as he drives the golf-cart-type vehicle to drag the infield after games.
“I’m going to miss his smile, he’s great with my family and my children,” Turgeon said. “So, if he doesn’t come back — hopefully the draft or because of what’s going on in the NCAA — I’m going to miss him immensely. It’s been a quick 3 1/2 or four years, however, you look at that, for sure.”
Dudoit will earn his bachelor’s degree in sports management this semester — he came home on Sunday and is now taking his final four courses online.
He has filled out paperwork to enter a master’s program in coaching next year if the MLB draft doesn’t work out and he is granted another season of eligibility. If his name is called in the draft, he plans to sign and start his professional career.
After three years of losing seasons at CUI, the Eagles were out to a 17-7 start in 2020 and ranked 23rd in the country in the NCAA Division II ranks when play abruptly ended due to the coronavirus.
Dudoit earned the PacWest Defensive Player of the Year Award last spring after his junior season. He’s been named to the all-PacWest first team each of the past two years and was also named to the preseason all-PacWest team this year. He has also made the academic all-PacWest team each of the past three seasons and is on pace to do so again.
He was hitting .347 with a team-high 35 hits, eight doubles and 12 RBIs this season when it was halted.
The return home has allowed Dudoit to reunite in workouts and commiserate with his younger brother Haku, a standout senior catcher at Baldwin.
“He’s in the process now where he needs to make a decision and it is coming up quickly,” Haloa Dudoit said. “Sunday night we started hitting in the cage again. He kind of told me he has been struggling with a few things, so I tried to help him with what I could help him with and what I see in it.”
The Dudoit brothers share at least one thing in common — they are not large in stature. Haloa is 5-foot-8, 170 pounds, which is larger than Haku.
“We talk about it — we talk about where he wants to go, the kind of program that fits him,” Haloa Dudoit said. “He’s also not a very big guy. He’s a fast, speedier catcher. So there’s a lot of programs that will fit someone differently. I think that is one of the biggest things in recruiting, you need to find a program that fits the way you play.
“He needs to go to a program that is going to run, to steal, maybe not hit so many bombs, but try to manufacture runs. We’ve been talking about what schools I think would be good for him and what he’s interested in. We’ve talked a lot about it.”
It is that kind of advice that Haloa Dudoit sees as his long-term career as he hopes to stay in the game. His father, Shane Dudoit, was the head coach for Baldwin’s 2018 state championship team and is now a scout in the Texas Rangers organization.
Haku Dudoit has the respect of his older brother.
“He’s good, he’s definitely got what it takes,” Haloa said. “He’s definitely better than me. I won’t tell him that, but he’s got the speed, he’s got the power. He’s skinny, but he’s still got the strong arm, transfer, all of that. So, it’ll be interesting. It’ll be fun to watch.”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com.