Chaminade competes, never retreats in first full season in over 40 years

Chaminade competes, never retreats in first full season in over 40 years

Chaminade competes, never retreats in first full season in 40 years

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED APR 29, 2024

HONOLULU – Following a weekend that saw rival HPU sweep them, the Chaminade Silverswords had smiles on their faces. 

On Senior Night, the team celebrated a pair of seniors that had a bit of a different experience through their final year of eligibility. No, they hadn’t helped them win the game that night, but the team relished the opportunity to be out on the field together playing baseball. 

The final record for the Silverswords is an uninspiring one at first glance, an expected casualty of a program in phase one of a total rebuild after more than four decades away from the diamond. Upon further inspection, it’s easy to see how Chad Konishi’s team has built a foundation for the future. 

“Really proud of [the team’s] efforts. I tell people that I don’t think our record is indicative of how hard we played,” the first-year skipper for the Swords said after Chaminade’s Senior Night game. “Success isn’t built on one-year wins and losses. I think the experience that the young kids got, the [Junior College] kids taking it to the next level, all that kind of stuff [is important].” 

Built up of 26 first-year college athletes, a various number of transfers and a few local boys returning to suit up for baseball in Hawai’i once again, the Swords scratched across 15 wins while providing plenty of scares to other teams – including the University of Hawai’i during a 2-0 loss on April 16 at Les Murakami Stadium where the Chaminade pitching staff only allowed four hits all night. While Konishi’s hope was to eclipse the 20-win threshold, struggles closing out close games crushed those chances as CUH fell 12 times by two runs or fewer with nine of those losses coming by a single run. 

Typically, “experience” for young players at each level includes a fair share of mistakes. This year’s edition of the Silverswords were no different as they tied with UH-Hilo for the most errors committed in the PacWest this season with 84 blunders while the youthful pitching staff allowed a league-high 286 earned runs across 48 contests as they worked on honing their craft. 

“Could we work smarter? Yeah, but I was really proud of their competitiveness. Some days we lacked execution, some days we didn’t,” Konishi reflected. 

The seeds for success are sprinkled all throughout the season for Chaminade, who tied for the least amount of total home runs allowed this season with just 27 long balls against the Swords’ staff. The offense of the Swords, while lacking power, was built upon patience, finishing the season with the 3rd-most walks drawn by any team in the conference. 

“We don’t have our own field, we practice at the Ala Wai and not one day did [the team] ever complain practicing there or whatever,” Konishi proudly said of his team. “They showed up early in the mornings for practice, they worked hard.” 

That hard work didn’t come accidentally. A sizable portion of the Chaminade roster felt overlooked or underrecruited, coming to put on the blue and white for an opportunity to prove themselves at the next level, either from JUCO or high school. With them, Konishi needed some senior leadership for his foundational team. He found exactly that when Kailua product and Cal State Fullerton transfer JT Navyac gave Konishi and staff a chance to help him close out his college career at home. The pitcher/infielder spent three seasons in California, appearing in 102 games before joining the Silverswords’ historic first group back on the field for his final year of eligibility. 

He gave eight games of pitching to the Swords while appearing in the field for 44 total contests, racking up 36 hits at the plate. Playing one final time at home inside the friendly confines of Les Murakami Stadium, Navyac twirled a 1-2-3 inning with three strikeouts in his final pitching appearance and recorded an RBI single in his final at-bat. 

Navyac said the highlight of the season for himself came during those final seven frames against HPU. 

“Being able to start, get three strikeouts and then my last at-bat having an RBI single is awesome,” the senior said. “Being able to play in front of my family and friends was awesome. Coach Chad [Konishi] gave me the opportunity and I thought ‘why not?’ and I had a great time. We improved a lot, had fun and as a first-year program I think we made a lot of steps forward. A lot of things to work on and understand but I think there’s a good future for Chaminade.” 

Konishi acknowledged it being important to bring the utility man home for the future of the program, even if it only meant one year of having Navyac on the roster. The longtime baseball coach was extremely thankful that the Saint Louis alum gave his program a chance over other local competitors HPU and UH-Hilo. The veteran leadership of Navyac allowed for continued growth of three high-school shortstops into a first year of college by showing them the right way to go about their business on and off the field. 

Chaminade’s other senior, Haruki Kitazaki, was an example of taking your chance and running with it after he worked his way into the lineup midseason and never let go of the spot. After originally being on the block to not travel with the team, Kitazaki changed his season at Biola with a 2-for-4 day at the plate and a run scored in the second game of a doubleheader, starting the final 12 games of the year after that performance. 

“His time came up and he was put into the lineup, and he started to have some success. He hadn’t come out of the lineup until we took him out in honor of his senior inning,” Konishi shined about Kitazaki. “[Navyac and Kitazaki] couldn’t be two better kids that played for us for one year … [we were] fortunate enough to have both of them.” 

While the two leaders will graduate and move on, Chaminade returns multiple intriguing pieces such as first-year catcher Joe DeCoeur, who smacked a solo homerun out of Les Murakami Stadium’s confines in the Swords’ season-ending double-header against Hawai’i Pacific for his first long ball of the year. Fellow first-year Evon Williams showed glimmers of potential at third base and at the plate with hits in five of his final eight games. On the mound, first-year right-hander Rhyn Chambers “emerged” as a standout with a 1.66 ERA, allowing just 11 hits to 26 strikeouts across 16 appearances for the Silverswords. 

“I think the future is bright,” Konishi said. “I know we’re not there … we’re close but yet we’re not close, you know? I think we’re on our way, but we have to make some strides.” 

The head skipper pointed to the weight room as a key area for the Swords to invest time in during the offseason as the team hit a conference-low 12 home runs in 48 games. With more than 20 high-school players seeing considerable time in the field, Chaminade’s core was made up of a more youthful collection than opponents. 

A full offseason program for strength and conditioning for his young players will go a long way, says Konishi. With added strength and stamina, an already talented group looks to increase production and ranking among PacWest participants. 

“As I said in the beginning of the fall, I think putting a team out on the field was an accomplishment in itself,” Konishi stated. “We’re hoping that guys return and that they enjoy their experience here in Hawai’i, at school and the with program. We’ll start to fill in the holes that we think we need to replace.” 

Hawai’i fends off Chaminade in midweek non-conference tilt, 2-0

Hawai’i fends off Chaminade in midweek non-conference tilt, 2-0

Hawai’i fends off Chaminade in midweek non-conference tilt, 2-0

BY MICHAEL LASQUERO | HSRN
PUBLISHED APRIL 17, 2024

HONOLULU — Win No. 20 of the year for the Hawai’i baseball team would come in a 2-0 outing against Chaminade in a non-conference matchup Tuesday night at the Les Murakami Stadium.

Ten different pitchers combined for a two-hit shutout for the Rainbow Warriors (20-14) with Brayden Marx earning his first win of the season and Danny Veloz nothing his first save of the year after picking up the final two outs.

The Silverswords’ pitching was also superb as starter Mac Elske retired the entire Hawai’i lineup one time through before giving way to Max Patterson (4-5). Sebastian Castro was also solid as well in 2 and 1/3 innings pitched, facing the minimum seven batters.

Hawai’i would finally break through in the fourth inning when Jake Tsukada and Austin Machado notched back-to-back hits before Kyson Donahue’s two-strike sac fly brought Tsukada home. 

The final run of the game came in the fifth when Elijah Ickes’ had a two-out knock to drive in Ben Ziegler-Namoa, who reached on a walk to leadoff the half-inning.

Jordan Donahue recorded the last hit of the game in the bottom of the eighth to extend his hitting streak to 17 games for the Rainbow Warriors.

Hawai’i coach Rich Hill had nothing but positive things to say about Chaminade (15-29) and head coach Chad Konishi in the program’s first season in over four decades.

“It was great, you have to give credit to Chad Konishi and his staff for really pitching well tonight,” said Hill. “They’re a very well-coached team. Our guys, proud of them, they grinded it out.”

Konishi, who served as an associate head coach for the Rainbow Warriors from 2002 to 2013, was grateful for the experience despite the loss.

“Really nice to be back in the first base dugout, when we were here (the home team) were in the first base dugout, but it’s awesome,” said Konishi.

“I really want to thank coach Hill. I thanked him many times for giving us this opportunity; one, to play them and two, obviously to rent the facility when they’re away on the road. It’s been so helpful for my program, especially for a first year program. We get a chance to play in the best facility in the state so we hope to continue to do that.”

In addition to their strong pitching, the Silverswords had their chances against the Rainbow Warriors. Their best chance at scoring came in the top of the third after Hawai’i intentionally walked Casey Kudell to load the bases as Kudell got the first hit of the game for Chaminade in the first inning. Ultimately, Hawai’i was able to get out of the jam with an inning-ending strikeout from Itsuki Takemoto.

“They did a nice job competing,” said Konishi. “I told my guys, ‘look we had our chances tonight. You guys played well, I’m really proud of the effort, but we had our chances and this is a D1 team that’s in a good conference.’ If we can play like this consistently, I think we would have had a more consistent record, but really proud of just putting a product on the field. Hopefully we can move on in year two and get better and then progress in year three.”

Chaminade and Hawai’i-Hilo split Friday doubleheader at Les Murakami

Chaminade and Hawai’i-Hilo split Friday doubleheader at Les Murakami

Chaminade and Hawai’i-Hilo split Friday doubleheader at Les Murakami

BY MICHAEL LASQUERO | HSRN
PUBLISHED APRIL 6, 2024

HONOLULU — It was a tale of two different games.

Chaminade and Hawai’i-Hilo split their PacWest doubleheader Friday at Les Murakami Stadium and are currently tied at 1-1 in the regular season series.

The Silverswords (14-27 overall, 7-19 conference) won the first game of the twin bill with a 6-5 victory while the Vulcans (15-25, 8-18) snapped a nine-game losing streak with a dominant 14-0 victory in game two.

Chaminade won the first game in walk-off fashion when Ace Perry scored the winner on a wild pitch. 

Freshman left fielder Aydan Lobetos led the ‘Swords at the plate going 3-for-4 with two RBIs.

UH-Hilo held leads of 3-0 after the first inning and 5-3 after the fourth before Chaminade rallied for the win.

Zac Brown (2-1) got credited for the win on the mound for the ‘Swords, pitching in relief for starter Max Patterson, who went seven innings.

Game two was a different story with the Vulcans rapping out 15 hits and 14 runs in a seven-inning contest.

UH-Hilo took control of the game in the second inning when it scored four runs, but really broke the game open with an eight-run outing in the top of the fourth.

Cody Min led the Vulcans with three hits, Alec Yamauchi drove in the most runs with three RBIs and Vance Oshiro and Kyle Casados each scored three runs to power UH-Hilo.

Aaron Davies (3-4) earned the pitching win for the Vulcans with six strikeouts in four innings of work.

UH-Hilo will wrap up its stay on O’ahu in a Sunday double-header against Hawai’i Pacific while Chaminade will travel to the Vulcans’ home next weekend to close out the regular season series between the two teams. 

HPU and Chaminade split non-conference softball double-header

HPU and Chaminade split non-conference softball double-header

HPU and Chaminade split non-conference softball double-header

BY MICHAEL LASQUERO | HSRN
PUBLISHED MARCH 17, 2024

KANEOHE — These two teams sure like to make things fun at the end.

Hawai’i Pacific and Chaminade split a non-conference softball double-header Saturday afternoon with each team notching a one-run victory at Howard A. Okita Field.

The last time the two teams played, the Silverswords took both games with an extra-inning 6-5 win and a 2-1 win over the Sharks on March 3.

HPU was finally able to strike back against its rival on Saturday with a walk-off 6-5 win in game one with shortstop Jewel Larson providing the game-winning RBI. This helped the Sharks snap an 11-game losing streak to earn their fourth win of the year.

Chaminade trailed for most of game two, but surged ahead on a sacrifice fly by pinch hitter Desiree Bravo in the fifth before taking the lead on shortstop Taryn Fujioka’s single in the top of the seventh. Larson nearly played hero again for HPU, but a double-play ended the game to secure the 2-1 victory for the Swords (9-7).

The game-sealing play went from center fielder Summer Buck to Fujioka to catcher Larchelle Tuifao to get the game-tying run out at home trying to score from second before Tuifao fired it to third baseman Jaeda Kumaewa-Cabunoc to get Larson out at the corner.

Fujioka was the star of the afternoon, batting 7-for-8 overall with two RBIs in the leadoff spot.

HPU (4-16) tallied nine hits in both games, with Larson and Taimane Panganoran getting three hits each across the two contests.

Taylor Thompson (3-5) was credited with the complete game pitching win for the Sharks in game one. She gave up 11 hits and five unearned runs, but HPU was able to rally with three unearned runs in the bottom of the seventh for the win.

Getting the win in the pitching circle for the Swords in game two was Kamryn Lopez (5-2).

The Sharks will not play another game until next month when they take on Academy of Art in a four-game series that starts on April 2.

Chaminade will have 10 days off before their 12-game road trip in California when the Swords resume PacWest play against Concordia University-Irvine on March 26.

GAME 1

GAME 2

Silverswords holds off rival Sharks in thrilling finish, 71-68

Silverswords holds off rival Sharks in thrilling finish, 71-68

 

Silverswords holds off rival Sharks in thrilling finish, 71-68

BY MICHAEL LASQUERO | HSRN
PUBLISHED JAN 19, 2024

HONOLULU — This one came down to the wire.

Ross Reeves scored 20 — including the final two points with under seven seconds to play — as the Chaminade men’s basketball team outlasted visiting Hawai’i Pacific, 71-68, before a crowd of 236 Thursday night at McCabe Gymnasium.

The Silverswords snapped a three-game losing streak with the victory as they improved to 7-13 overall and 3-9 in PacWest play.

The Sharks (9-6, 4-3) saw four players score in double figures with Maj Dusanic leading the way with 16 points.

Dominique Winbush was the last HPU player to reach the double-digit mark, which came on a triple to make it a 69-68 game with under 40 seconds to play in regulation. His potential game-tying 3-pointer was wide left off the mark as the fourth quarter buzzer sounded.

PHOTOS BY MICHAEL LASQUERO

Chaminade snaps 40-game losing streak to Hawai’i Pacific, 77-66

Chaminade snaps 40-game losing streak to Hawai’i Pacific, 77-66

Chaminade snaps 40-game losing streak to Hawai’i Pacific, 77-66

BY MICHAEL LASQUERO | HSRN
PUBLISHED JAN 19, 2024

HONOLULU — Finally.

The Chaminade women’s basketball team snapped a 40-game losing streak to crosstown rival Hawai’i Pacific Thursday night with a 77-66 win at McCabe Gymnasium.

The Silverswords also snapped a 13-game losing streak in the process as they earned their first win in PacWest play.

Sameera Elmasri scored a game-high 18 points off the bench, Ashley Holen had 17 and Alyssa Schuetze poured in 12 in a reserve roll to lead Chaminade (3-13 overall, 1-10 league).

The victors got it done on defense, holding the Sharks (4-9, 2-5) to just 29 percent from the field on 18 of 62 shooting.

HPU, who trailed by 12 at the half, was able to trim the deficit to three just before the fourth quarter before the home team was able to pull away for the breakthrough victory.

Haley Jones had a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds with three blocks to lead the Sharks in the loss.

PHOTOS BY MICHAEL LASQUERO