Honolulu - The University of Hawai'i baseball team's 8,272 mile journey to Baton Rouge, Louisiana and back last week to play 16th ranked LSU was brisk compared to the road infielder Troy Kakugawa embarked on to get home.
Kakugawa, a 2013 Mililani grad, grew up dreaming of playing for the Rainbows.
"I was the little kid coming (to Les Murakami Stadium). I was these kids coming and asking for autographs and everything like that." Kakugawa said.
After graduating high school, Kakugawa wasn't given the opportunity to play in Manoa, so he went to the University of Puget Sound. Kakugawa played two seasons there, where he was awarded the North West Conference (NWC) Scholar-Athlete Award as a Sophomore.
Still, Troy's desire to play at home lured him back to Manoa, where he gambled his baseball career on open tryouts.
"For me it’s just a special place growing up here and everything. I was a total walk on here I went through the walk on tryout. I dedicated everything toward baseball for that moment. Now it’s just embracing it all and just thankful for everything that coach Trap has done for me and for giving me a chance.”
After making the squad, Kakugawa went 2-5 with a double in 2017 before getting season ending shoulder surgery. The senior infielder has rebounded nicely in 2018, going 2-2 with an inside the park home run in limited action.
"To finally get back on the field after the surgery and everything like that, it's a really good feeling." Kakugawa said.
“We knew athletically he had some skills and had some things that we don’t necessarily have as a team." Rainbow Warriors head coach Mike Trapasso added.
"He’s got plus speed and he’s a good defender. We’re even going to start playing him a little bit out in the outfield in our scrimmages and practices as we go because of the way he can run. But he’s a team guy. He’s appreciative to just be part of this but now he’s actually a big part of it because he’s able to help us and I think we’ll see more of him when we’re facing lefties.”
Kakugawa and the Rainbow Warriors will host Illinois State for a four game series this week starting Thursday.
University of Hawai'i Games 15-18
What: Hawai'i Rainbow Warriors (8-6) vs. Illinois State Redbirds (8-5)
When: Thursday, March 15, 6:35 p.m. HT
Friday, March 16, 6:35 p.m. HT
(DH) Saturday, March 17, 1:05 p.m. HT
Where: Honolulu, O'ahu (Les Murakami Stadium)
Television: The first two games of the series (Thursday-Friday) will be televised on Spectrum Sports
Live Video Streaming: BigWest.tv
Radio: All games will be broadcast live on the radio with Jim Leahey and Scott Robbs covering each game on the call. All games will air on ESPN Honolulu 1420 AM. Neighbor islands can listen to games live on KNUI on Maui, KHLO in Hilo, KKON in Kona and KTOH on Kaua'i.
Audio Webcast: www.ESPN1420am.com
Live Stats: Live in-game stats will be provided by Hawai'i Athletics throughout the series at the links listed below.
|Game 1||Game 2||Game 3||Game 4|
Promotions: First Hawaiian Bank is the series sponsor and will be giving away great prizes each day. Throwback Thursday (Mar. 15) will feature discounted ticket prices in the upper level (Adults - $5; Senior Citizen - $4; Youth (ages 4 to HS) - $3). Friday's contest will be followed by an autograph session on the field. Little League teams or groups that have purchased a group rate ticket package are invited onto the field to stand alongside the UH baseball players for the National Anthem & Hawaii Pono'i prior to Saturday's game (Check-in 30 min. prior to first pitch of the first game on Saturday near the Big West Conference logo on the ground level).