Rainbows Ready to Make Some Noise
April 3, 2009
Joe Edwards in Sports

There was a time, not long ago, when Rainbow baseball was simply the best show going at the University of Hawaii athletic department.

Les Murakami built a strong program, took the 'Bows to the College World Series, and followed it up with nearly two decades of spectacular play. If you went to what was then Rainbow Stadium on a Friday night, or a sunny weekend afternoon, the odds were stacked in your favor that you'd see great baseball and the Rainbows would win and send you home happy.

Through seven seasons as Murakami's successor, Mike Trapasso has had just one team with that kind of spark. The program had probably fallen farther than any of us realized before he took over.

But Trapasso is a patient guy - a baseball guy - and this year's team, his eighth, looks like it's ready to make some noise again in the Western Athletic Conference and perhaps the NCAA Regionals.

The Rainbows have dealt with some early adversity, playing without top pitchers Jared Alexander and Nate Klein for stretches. They've played nine road games, winning five of them.

"It's always important to have some adversity early," Trapasso said. "We've played one of the toughest schedules in the country - the 18th toughest schedule in the country. Across the board, our guys play with intensity and yet with an even keel."

That should bode well as the Rainbows head into conference play with a four-game series against San Jose State.

"I knew this was a good club," Trapasso said, noting that several key players were around last season when the team went 20-12 the second half of the season (including 12-5 in April) and finished second in the conference. "Our guys came in [to this season] with an understanding of what it takes," Trapasso said.

The coach said he'd like to see the Rainbows shed their inconsistency, something reflected in their .246 team batting average.

The Rainbows also need to get pitcher Nate Klein back on the mound. The junior right-hander sat out the last few series with a sore arm. Trapasso said last week that Klein will begin playing catch soon and could be back in playing shape by either this weekend, against San Jose State or, more likely, the following week against Nevada.

If the team's pitching heals up as expected, and its hitting continues to improve, this could end up being the type of season Rainbow baseball fans have been missing for too long.

Article originally appeared on East Oahu Sun | Your Community Newspaper (http://www.eastoahusun.com/).
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