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A new era begins

LIHU‘E — Newly-appointed Kaua‘i High School baseball coach Kirby Yates has lofty goals for his team headed into the 2020 Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation season.

Yates, who is entering his first-ever season coaching baseball at the varsity level, has evaluated the Red Raiders’ talent pool and feels his team, which finished third last year in the KIF, has unending potential.

In his first-ever season, Yates is aiming for Kaua‘i to qualify for the state playoffs, and possibly even more, and that is the type of philosophical approach he has towards the Red Raiders achieving goals.

“I would like to set our goals high and see where we stand and what we need to work on,” Yates said. “Our team is on the right track and is working hard. Going into this year, we have strong pitching coming around and starting to work, and our guys are hitting the baseball hard, and their hard work is starting to show on the field.”

Yates will take over for long-standing Red Raiders’ baseball coach Hank Ibia, who retired from coaching at the end of the 2019 season, and during his tenure captured 13 KIF baseball championships and three Hawai‘i High School Athletic Association Division II state championships.

Yates acknowledged the work Ibia did.

“Hank did a pretty good job, and he was here for a while,” Yates said.

Yates would like to put his stamp on the Red Raiders’ program this season.

“We pretty much changed the whole program,” Yates said. “We want to win the state this year, and we’ve been pushing them hard to try to reach their goal, and I think we have the potential to get there.”

His new assistant coach Cody Goias, who worked with Yates during his time as a coach in the Lihu‘e Pony league, feels the Red Raiders’ potential to better their 2-10 KIF mark last season is right.

“He knows the sport, and will bring a good program to Kaua‘i,” Goias said. “This season should be interesting. We have the players to be good this year.”

One big emphasis on having success is he and his coaching staff are going to spend a lot of time developing players at the junior varsity level.

“I would like to see these kids enjoy the game and play the game the right way, and I would like to develop them when they are young,” Yates said. “It’s nice to see players start in the program in ninth-grade, and by the time they are seniors, they get to see the results of their work, and that is pretty cool.”

Yates’ coaching resume consists of teaching his younger brother, current San Diego Padres’ reliever Kirby Yates, and he coached t-ball for a year in the Lihu‘e Baseball League in Lihu‘e, and the Kaua‘i 16-and-under team last season.

Yates, a former Kaua‘i High player himself, played the position of catcher from 1994-1997, and eventually played for the University of Hawai‘i-Hilo, where he played first base and catcher during his baseball career.

Senior pitcher and first basemen Dahlus Hood is ready for the transition.

“I am just excited for the season and ready to play,” Hood said. “I am excited about the upcoming Maui Tournament, where we will get to play some good teams, and I am very excited to see where we stand going forward.”

Kaua‘i High’s first KIF-sanctioned game of the season will Saturday, March 14, at 10:30 a.m. against Waimea High School.

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Jason Blasco, sports reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or jblasco@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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