Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Hilo Trio Enjoy Trip of a Lifetime

Holschuh, Santiago, Hirayama

Lavinia Holschuh, Robyn Santiago and James Hirayama at game 4 of World Series

As most of us were glued to our seats watching Shane Victorino and the Phillies battle the New York Yankees in the World Series a trio of Hilo residents were treated to a live look inside Major League Baseball.

The MLB World Series is over, but the real winners were three members of Hilo’s RBI girl’s softball team.

James Hirayama, coach of Hilo’s World Champion RBI Softball Team, along with his “battery” were treated by MLB to an all expense paid trip, to Philadelphia to watch games three and four of the World Series.

As part of winning the RBI World Crown a coach and two players were given a chance of a lifetime as they were treated to celebrity status and a behind the scenes look during the World Series.

“This was an amazing experience for us,” Hirayama said.  “On our trip to Philadelphia we were taken to the field and allowed to sit in the dugout to watch infield practice.  Later we got to spend a few minutes talking with Shane Victorino, just prior to game four.”

Hirayama is the head coach of the amazing girls from Hilo that went on to win the RBI Softball World Series.  “I was allowed to take two players with me and the first one was an easy choice,” he said.

Hirayama took his pitcher, Lavinia Holschuh, who was named the Most Valuable Player at the Softball World Series, and decided to take catcher Robyn Santiago.  Holschuh pitched a one hitter and drove in two run to help Hilo defeat Cleveland 3-0 in the championship game.

“Robyn was actually the alternate prior to leaving Hilo for the regionals,” he said.  “When our regular catcher, Kia Taroma, got injured we added Robyn to the active roster.” 

Santiago was sick a week prior to the team leaving for Regional’s and was on an IV, according to Hirayama.  “She was just taken off her I V the day before leaving on the trip with us,” he said

Hirayama, who has been coaching RBI softball for the past six years, has lead three Hilo squads to the RBI World Series in Palm Beach, Florida.  Last year the girls from Hilo played in the finals of the World Series before capturing the crown this year.

“There were several girls that were considered to go to Philadelphia, all of them deserving, but we only had one opening when my dad told me ‘without the battery the car cannot run’,” Hirayama said.

The “battery” that Hirayama’s father was talking about was the pitcher/catcher combination of Holschuh and Santiago.  “Once my dad told me that it put everything into perspective,” Hirayama said.  “Lavinia and Robyn worked well together and taking the battery became the right choice.”

The trio had all their expenses; airfare, room and board; paid for by major league baseball and were treated to a once in a lifetime experience.

“The first morning in Philadelphia we went to the City Center to take in much of our history, including seeing the Liberty Bell,” Hirayama said.

“Around three in the afternoon they took us to the ball field so that we could take in a lot of the color and excitement associated with the World Series,” he said.

Hirayama and his “battery” were introduced to such baseball legends as Reggie Jackson and Hank Aaron, and were excited to meet Maui born Victorino.

“It was a great experience being able to be in that type of atmosphere during the World Series,” Holschuh said of being at the Citizens Bank Park.  “Philadelphia is a city in love with baseball, but the most memorable experience for me came when we went to the City Center and we visited Independence Hall.”

Holschuh is currently in her second year at the University of Hawaii-Hilo and has decided to sit out this year from playing softball at the collegiate level.  “I’m just concentrating on my classes this year and I’m looking to transfer to a mainland school next year,” she said.  “I love playing softball and I appreciate the opportunity that UHH gave me.”

In a trip of a lifetime the trio will take with them many memorable experiences.  “It was very exciting for me to see the girls excited,” Hirayama said.

Hirayama also had high praise for the many baseball celebrities that they met.  “Everyone gave us the royal treatment and they treated us very special,” he said.  Hirayama also had kudos for Phillies outfielder and golden glover Shane Victorino.

“I was really impressed that Shane (Victorino) would take the time to talk to us prior to taking the field in game four of the World Series,” Hirayama said.  “With all the excitement and pressure going on around us I was surprised that he (Victorino) would take a few minutes to be with us.  I am very appreciative that he would do something like that.”

The Hilo RBI Softball Champions will need to earn their way back to Florida in 2010 as the automatic berth usually given to the RBI Softball World Champions has been discontinued.

“The only sad part about this amazing year for us is that the RBI League has decided, for the first time, not to give an automatic return to the previous year’s championship team,” Hirayama said.

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November 12, 2009 Posted by | Events | , , , , , | Leave a comment