The Little League World Series — a true global baseball tournament that includes teams from all corners of the planet — is played annually in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, as a rite to the boys of summer and their love of the game of baseball.
That deep desire that fires those hopes and dreams is not lost here on the West Side of Maui. The West Maui Little League Baseball Majors Division (ages 11-12) All-Star Team was announced this week and will now begin practicing for the District III Tournament to be played at Dorvin Leis Field in Kihei on June 24-28.
According to WMLL President Greg Vanderlaan, the 2011 all-star team will be coached by Royden Ginoza and John Lopez of the Cardinals, and also Manu Kenolio from the league champion Orioles.
The 12-player roster and alternates were to be chosen from the following representatives from the four Majors Division teams.
The Orioles, who finished the season with an 11-1 record atop the Major division standings, will be represented by Ka‘ala Wales, Joseph Campos, Kaya Phillips-Aki and Chris Kaniho; while the second place Cards at 8-4 will have Roen Ginoza, Joshua Chang, Kahanu Haake and Calen Matsuda in the lineup.
The Red Sox rang up a 3-9 mark in the regular season, and their top players Kyle Schultz, Cooper Vanderlaan, Micah Akamine, Raphael Quezada, Carver Locke and Tahjan Kruck are part of the all star team.
The White Sox will be represented on the elite squad by Kalalani Kaaikala-Caban and Lucas Elliot.
“We’ve had a great season with Friday night games and good vibes throughout,” commented league President Vanderlaan. “There was no controversy at this level, and I think everybody had a good time.”
Despite over 300 kids participating in the T-Ball, Coach Pitch, Minors and Majors Divisions, Vanderlaan noted a distinct fall in youth interest in baseball this year here on the West Side.
“With the rise in popularity of wrestling and swimming, we saw a definite level of attrition this year. We moved some kids up to play in the Majors and didn’t have the deep rosters like before, but it all worked out fine in the end. I’m just hoping that we can get a solid board of directors to help run the league next year. I’d really like to get a player development program going, so the kids and the coaches will all be on the same page. Gary Gatiuan and Manu Kenolio will be a big help in that regard.”
Vanderlaan also praised the support of WMLL title sponsor Maui Jim Sunglasses, and division sponsors UFO Parasail, Warren and Annabelle’s, Jim Falk Motors, Cool Cat Café, and Mala Ocean Tavern.
“All of these people and businesses were very generous in their support of Little League Baseball, and we really appreciate their help,” he said.
The WMLL Minors Division (ages 9-10) 2011 All-Star Team made a solid impact in the Division III Tournament held two weeks ago in Kihei. Despite losing to Upcountry and eventual runner-up Molokai, the West Maui team stayed close in both contests in losing by two-run deficits.
The coaches for the team were Andres Alavazo, Ron Storer and Shawn McLaughlin, and the player roster included Raige Bush, Kaihulali Casco, Steven Kama, Kamako Ko, Nainoa Ko, Tani Kuluhiwa-Kim, Landen McLaughlin, Cley Josef Palma, Jensen Powley, Myka Rodrigues-Kenolio, Dylan Smith and Etuati Storer.