Kubasaki makers rare trip to South Korea
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa – What’s a good way for a team fielding 11 freshmen, seven of them starters, to get an idea of what they’ll experience come Far East baseball tournament time in two months?
Send them on a journey to face teams they’ve not played during the regular season in the schools’ respective histories. That occurs Friday and Saturday, when two-time Far East Division I champion Kubasaki travels from Okinawa to Korea to face Seoul American and Daegu.
It’s sort of a baseball version of “throw them in and hope they float,” as an old saying goes. But while it seems as if they’re biting off more than they can chew at the moment, coach Randy Toor says the more innings they get, whatever the outcome, the better for his young charges.
“We’re a young team with lots of energy,” Toor said. “Trips are always good for young teams, helps the team bond and a good experience. Whether we win or lose, we get to play a lot of games. That’s our main goal right now, is to play a lot of innings.”
They’ll face Seoul American at 6 p.m. Friday, just hours after stepping off the plane at Inchon International Airport. On Saturday, the Dragons take on Division II Daegu at 1 p.m. before facing a Korean school at 3 p.m. to conclude the road trip.
In Seoul American, the Dragons will take on a team equally as youthful; coach Dean Florio’s top seven players, two of them seniors, departed after last season and the Falcons field a roster that’s 90 percent freshmen and sophomores.
Ken Walter, back at the Warriors’ baseball helm after an eight-season hiatus, also fields a young team, with nary a senior, just six juniors and only two returners from last season.
Dragons baseball isn’t the only Kubasaki team hitting the road this weekend for Korea: Boys soccer will also board the plane to Inchon with the baseball team on Friday.
While the baseball showdowns will feature mostly newbies, Kubasaki soccer sports a veteran lineup, including the Washington brothers, senior Iseiah, junior Imani and freshman Ilijah and junior transfer Miles Mahlock.
Seoul American soccer features as many greenhorns as Falcons baseball; seven starters from the 2014 team departed, and while a handful of seniors populate the lineup, most are new to the game, coach Steve Boyd says.
Against Kubasaki, the Falcons will “get an idea of what quality soccer is about, what it will be like at Far East, so I was all for it,” Boyd said. “I think it works out for us and it will work out for them, too.”
The Falcons and Dragons will scrimmage at 6 p.m. Friday, then Kubasaki takes on a Korean team at 1 p.m. and the Falcons at 3 p.m. Saturday.