After almost a year removed from playing in a game, the Hawaii Pacific baseball team is throwing itself into the fire with the best and only competition it can find on the island: A four-game series at the University of Hawaii.
To make matters more challenging, when the Sharks take on the Rainbow Warriors at Les Murakami Stadium on Thursday night, it will be the first time the team can play baseball the way the game was intended. Because the Sharks practice on city and county fields, members of the team have been limited to practicing in pods of five players at a time as opposed to nine players on a diamond.
“It’s definitely hard. We’re not gonna see a full live scrimmage before we play UH, that’s a difficult part of it but we make the best of it,” HPU baseball head coach Dallas Correa told KHON2’s Alan Hoshida. “We’ve been able to do pod work in groups of five, sticking with the county rules and we’re gonna continue doing this thing right and rightfully so. The defensive side may be slow coming out because you don’t see that ball coming off the bat but other than that, I think we’re gonna be ready to go.”
Correa expressed excitement about the team he’s bringing back, which includes senior pitcher Grant Dragmire. The team also landed Kansas transfer Stone Parker, Hawaii’s consensus pitcher of the year as a senior at Kailua in 2018.
Like the rest of their athletic teams, Hawaii Pacific will participate in the PacWest Conference Hawaii pod. Since Hawaii-Hilo is the only other team in the pod that has a baseball team, HPU’s conference schedule will consist of 20 games, all of which are weekend doubleheaders against the Vulcans. Despite the lack of variety in competition, the Sharks remain grateful to be playing ball — an opportunity that was unexpectedly deprived from them last year.
“We’re really excited about it. I think our recruiting class is a very good class coming in, but I’m just excited for these guys to get back on the field,” Correa said. “It’s been a while, I want to say about March 12 we were in Oakland and we got shut down, so I mean I’m excited for the group coming back.”