4/1/2014 10:33:00 AM Hopi High Bruins off to strong start
Stan Bindell The Observer
POLACCA, Ariz. - Hopi High School beat Red Mesa 10-3 in baseball action March 25 to improve to 3-3 overall for the season.
Hopi High coach John Lomavaya is at the helm for the first time after Ben Willey left to take a job in Window Rock. The new coach hopes the Red Mesa game is an indication of the Bruins moving in the right direction.
Cheston Huma was the winning pitcher for Hopi going the route and striking out 17, giving up six hits and walking three. Only one of the runs was earned.
Hopi only banged out four hits, but had the patience to take 10 walks. All 10 runs were earned.
Lomavaya said Huma's pitching was good, but could improve. Brent Nahsonhoya led the Hopi hitting with a home run and a single. Sam Laban smacked a triple and Murray Lincoln stroked a single.
Lomavaya said the Bruins' fielding was okay, but needs to improve.
"We have a young group to work with," he said. "All of our upperclassmen are our leaders. Those with experience need to lead those without experience."
Overall, Lomavaya said the Bruins continue to make adjustments in their hitting. He said the team's fielding has already greatly improved from the start of the season. He said some of the pitchers from last year switched to other sports this year.
"So we have to rebuild our pitching staff," he said. "Some of our pitchers are in midseason form and some are in preseason form. The most important key to the season is that they gain experience on the job. They have to execute the plays."
Lomavaya said his players are doing their best and showing a lot of potential.
"They have talent and ability, but haven't been able to mold it due to lack of experience," he said. "I hope they come around by mid to late season. They are picking it up. They're like sponges taking it all in. They are great kids."
Lomavaya said his goals for the season are for the players to learn as much as they can and for the older players to teach the younger guys. He said as competition stiffens during the next couple weeks that they will find out how good they are going to be this season. He said the Bruins could make the playoffs if they work hard and improve, but that they won't make the playoffs if they don't execute the plays the way they need to.
"It takes a desire to win," he said.
Lomavaya said he wanted to become head coach so he could continue the same duties and responsibilities that he has had while serving as assistant coach during the past eight years. He always loved the game of baseball, but he injured his arm during elementary school so that kept him from playing high school baseball.
"So I went right into officiating," he said.
Lomavaya worked as an umpire for five years in the Arizona, Northwest, Midwest and California leagues, which were either Rookie Ball or A Leagues, varying levels of professional baseball.
Now, as coach, Lomavaya tells his players to stay away from drugs and alcohol.
"They work so hard with conditioning, and then one episode can throw it away. It's not worth it as an athlete or as a person," he said.
Lomavaya also works with his players to keep their grades up. He asks the players how they are doing, checks their grades, talks to those whose grades are decreasing and their teachers to see if they are making the effort to improve their grades.
"But the grades have to come directly from the students," he said.
The starting team for the Bruins finds Eric Bahnimptewa at first, Josiah Kuyvava at second, Skylen Tootsie at shortstop and Seville Salazaar at third. The outfield has Laban in left field, Nahsonhoya at center and Qoyatayo Honie in right field. Lincoln is the catcher.
The pitching staff includes Huma, Skylen Tootsie, Murray Lincoln, Josiah Kuyvaya, Brent Nahsonhoya and Emerson Lilly.
The key substitutes are Cyrus Beaudette, Trystin Clark, Chorosi Honie, Sylvan Nahsonhoya, Jaylen Outah, Kyle Secakuku, Lance Quotskuyva and Trevor Loma'omvaya.