Saturday would have been the final nonconference home game for Hawaii’s baseball team as Big West play was slated to begin next week.
The ‘Bows were set to host Towson for a four-game series this week, with the series finale coming at 1:05 p.m. at Les Murakami Stadium. From there, they would have played at San Francisco for one game on Wednesday before a series at UC Santa Barbara starting next Friday.
Instead, it has been almost two weeks since the Rainbow Warriors have played due to COVID-19 concerns. With the NCAA cancelling its spring and winter championships, UH’s season effectively ended at an 11-6 mark. The ‘Bows previously have not started a season that well since 2012, back when they were also 11-6 through 17 games.
With so many games ahead of what was a promising season so far, members of the team were understandably upset.
“It’s not just disappointing for me. It’s disappointing for everyone. As a team we really felt like we had a chance to do something special. I’m heartbroken for our seniors,” Hawaii junior pitcher Jeremy Wu-Yelland told KHON2’s Ren Clayton. “We really had a chance to do something special, I feel like. We’re all in the same boat. We’re disappointed. But we’re still a family and we’re still all behind each other.”
Not many players on the team will be impacted by the season’s sudden demise quite like Wu-Yelland. The lefty was in his first year of MLB Draft eligibility in college and was putting up the numbers to get picked high.
After a summer in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League, Wu-Yelland entered the season as UH’s top-ranked pro prospect by D1Baseball.com and its 161st best prospect overall. In seven relief appearances, he struck out 16 batters in 13 innings and allowed just one run for a 0.69 ERA.
With the possibility of the 2020 MLB Draft in limbo, Wu-Yelland is staying in shape and trying to keep his options open no matter what happens. This year’s draft was set to take place from June 10-12.
“I’m going to try my hardest to stay in shape. Stay true to the process,” he said. “Get my work in no matter what happens. And really just let things play out from here.”
Wu-Yelland, who hails from Spokane, Wash., is still living in Hawaii for now. He is one of a handful of UH pitchers to put out his highlights on social media in hopes of gaining more exposure in lieu of the additional games he would have appeared in this season. Getting drafted remains a possibility, as does returning to Manoa for his senior year. Wu-Yelland says he’s prepared for both scenarios.
“I think everyone can agree, not as much baseball as we would have liked to have played this year. I think that’s just important for people who haven’t seen me as much as they want to,” he said. “Obviously I would love the opportunity to play professional baseball. Childhood dream and all that. But whatever happens, happens.
“Either way I’m going to be prepared, whether it’s coming back next year to play another year at UH or just being in shape for the draft and pro ball.”