The University of Hawaii at Hilo is enjoying what is believed to be the best season in program history thus far.

At 15-6, the Vulcans are currently ranked No. 16 in the country and look primed to play in an NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. The Vulcans have appeared in the NAIA Tournament but have yet to make the postseason since transitioning to the NCAA Division II level.

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The catalyst to UH-Hilo’s success in 2023? That would be none other than leadoff shortstop Casey Yamauchi, a Waiakaea alumnus and five-year starter for the Vulcans.

Yamauchi recently collected his 200th career hit for UHH and is currently just 15 hits away from the program record. In 2023, he’s hitting a scorching .453 with two home runs, going 34-for-75 while starting every game thus far.

“The basis of my approach has always been the same,” Yamauchi said. “From a young age, my dad always told me to just hit the ball anywhere, it doesn’t matter if it falls or not because it’s out of your control. I guess my approach has always been to square the ball up and if it falls, it falls. I’ve been fortunate enough to do it 200 times now.”

With the season about halfway done, the Vulcans are currently second place in the PacWest standings. UHH does not have any games this weekend and will begin the second half of its schedule on March 25 to start a five-game series at Hawaii Pacific.

“It’s definitely better than what we expected,” Yamauchi said of the team’s hot start in 2023. “But every day we just go out there and try to win one game at a time.”