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Batter Up

Little league gets boost from community.

Ask any Molokai Little Leaguer what brought them out to play baseball Saturday morning and they’d tell you it’s for the love of the game.

“I love to hit homeruns!” exclaimed 10-year-old Royden Abafo. “I’m so happy we got to play.”

But it took a little more than love for baseball to make the Grandma and Grandpa Little League Tournament at Kaunakakai Ball Park possible – it took the love of the community.

Getting a late start due to the loss of its charter, the 9 and 10 year old Little League teams did not have the opportunity to play a full season this year – which was unacceptable to Molokai resident and grandparent Wayde Lee.

Lee said the kids were “bummed out” that they couldn’t play and he decided to call upon his `ohana and the community to put on what he called the “Grandma and Grandpa League Tournament.”

,” Lee said. “There is nothing better than to come out and watch your grandkids play.”

Funded by Lee and other community donations, the tournament lasted three days with three co-ed Molokai teams battling it out on the field: the Yankees, Slammahs and Hammahs. Each team had one week of practice with volunteer coaches who recruited the kids from separate districts. Bill Umi, one of the coaches for the Yankees, said the tournament was more relaxed because the kids didn’t feel the pressure of qualifying for All-Stars, a higher level in the league’s previous years.

“The kids did awesome,” Hammahs coach Kenny Adachi said. “We’re all really grateful they got this opportunity … they deserve it.”

Lee added that the tournament wasn’t about winning, but about having fun – which was evident on the diamond.

“My favorite part was scoring runs,” said 10-year-old Sydney Rawlins, who played for the Slammahs. “I’ve been playing since T-ball.”

Her excitement was shared by others who were glad they got to brush up on their baseball skills for next year.

“I love to catch and to hit!” said 9-year-old Cami Horner, representing the Yankees. “I can’t wait to play again.”

A chili lunch and awards ceremony followed the tournament, where the kids were presented with certificates, T-shirts, metals donated by the County of Maui, and a new baseball.

Despite hitches this year, the league has been fully reinstated and will be back on the field next season.

The Lee `Ohana would like to extend mahalos to Molokai Drugs, Buchanan, Fely Video, Hames Mawae `Ohana and Business, GoodFellow, Misakis, Fred and Kelly Richardson, Island Refuse Company, Maui Parks and Recreation, all coaches and players, Maui County workers, Donald Kaai, Kamalu Kaawa Richardson, Ilmaakea Kaawa Richardson, Dwayne and Hala Kala, Loke Kamakana, Taylor Kaawa, Abbie Kaawa, Kilohilani Kaawa, Benny Venenciano, Trey Kaawa, Jr. Alcon, Guy Espaniola, Grandpa Wayde Lee, Grandma Adele Lee and everyone else who made the tournament possible.

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