Around The Nation: June 9

It wasn’t easy by any stretch, but Honolulu’s Punahou High recently claimed its sixth straight Hawaii state title. It’s the school’s 12th title since 1959.

“It’s pretty amazing,” head coach Eric Kadooka said. “We were a real young team. We had three returning starters and the league was real tough. Our expectations were we just wanted to try and compete.”

Punahou finished the regular season 8-6, good for fourth place in the league, before getting hot in the playoffs. The playoffs in Hawaii follow a double-elimination format which gives teams a second season as Kadooka puts it. Punahou won its first two games of the tournament before losing in the semifinals. That put Punahou in a playoff against Honolulu’s Mid-Pacific Institute. The Buff n’ Blue then marched on without losing another game to lift the trophy.

Punahou is a strong candidate to land in the Baseball America/National High School Baseball Coaches Association Top 50 when the rankings expand next week. Competition in Hawaii is limited, but don’t be fooled. These teams can hold their own. Punahou frequently makes trips to the mainland to challenge strong programs in Texas and on the West Coast. Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman High typically sends its American Legion team there as well to get some games in.

“Hawaii kids are a little smaller,” Kadooka added. “Our guys don’t pass the look test. But they have a toughness. They don’t play the long ball. They put it in play, run hard and get in front of everything. The quality of pitching is a little less but its a different style. We throw more breaking balls.”

Hawaiian players don’t get quite the exposure as those on the mainland, but when players like Kurt Suzuki and Shane Victorino break through people start to notice. Kadooka also mentioned that after Punahou was ranked in years past, he would call coaches about tournaments and they would know about his program already. It may never be on par with the likes of California, Florida and Texas, but Hawaii has more than just beautiful beaches and good surfing.

Several of our Top 25 teams have finished their seasons, here is how they wrapped up.
Rank Team Record Previous Result
2 Bishop Gorman HS, Las Vegas 40-4 4 State 4-A Champions
3 Menchville HS, Newport News, Va. 25-2 5 State 3-A Champions
4 Owasso (Okla.) HS 34-4 7 State 6-A Champions
5 Northshore HS, Slidell, La. 34-2 8 State 5-A Champions
6 Naples (Fla.) HS 32-1 9 State 4-A Champions
7 Notre Dame Prep, Scottsdale, Ariz. 30-2 10 State 4-A-II Runner-Up
8 Sumrall (Miss.) HS 36-0 11 State 3-A Champions
9 Farragut HS, Knoxville 38-5 13 State 3-A Champions
10 Pope HS, Marietta, Ga. 31-8 14 State 5-A Champions
11 Alonso HS, Tampa 30-3 16 State 6-A Champions
12 La Cueva HS, Albuquerque 29-2 18 State 5-A Runner-Up
13 Charlotte Christian School 30-3 19 State Private School Champions
14 Calallen HS, Corpus Christi, Texas 35-5 6 State 4-A Region Finalist
15 Cartersville (Ga.) HS 33-4 NR State 3-A Champions
16 Bellaire (Texas) HS 33-4 1 State 4-A Region Finalist
17 Capistrano Valley HS, Mission Viejo, Calif. 26-6 NR CIF Southern Section Champions
18 Chatsworth (Calif.) HS 30-4 NR CIF City Section Champions
19 Columbus (Ga.) HS 33-4 3 State 3-A Runner-Up
20 Greenbrier Christian Academy, Chesapeake, Va. 28-2 24 State Private School DII Champions
21 Severna Park (Md.) HS 22-2 25 State 4-A Champions
24 Hartselle (Ala.) HS 50-9 NR State 5-A Champions
25 Northgate HS, Newnan, Ga. 32-5 NR State 4-A Champions