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The Scarlet & Black

Spotlight: Kainoa Inafuku

Photograph by Tela Ebersole

Kainoa Inafuku ’14 is a four-year starter for the baseball team. He was an All-Midwest Conference player last year, in a season highlighted by a 12-game hitting streak. Inafuku has started in 104 out of 105 possible games during his college career.

Photograph by Tela Ebersole
Photograph by Tela Ebersole

What are you looking forward to this upcoming season?

I’m excited because our team is looking really good this year. We’ve been working hard and our guys have been putting in a lot of their time in the weight room, outside of practice, as well as in practice. I’m excited to see how that translates onto the field in a real game.

What are your duties as one of the team captains? 

As soon as we got on campus in the fall, we started practicing. The captains would schedule captains’ practice, and we practiced four times a week during fall, off-season. During that time, the captains would also schedule two games a week and inter-squad scrimmages.

What aspect of the game do you want to improve from last year?

We really felt [the infielders] could have done better last year. So this year, what we’re trying to do is focus on our fundamentals, so that when we go onto the field, we just make the routine plays and don’t give any extra outs. Last year we gave up a bunch of extra outs because of some errors that we made, and it made it hard on the pitchers.

What is your favorite part about being on the field for a game?

I like home games. It’s nice to have my friends and classmates out on the hill next to us. We spend a lot of time out there working on our craft, so being able to play in front of the home fans and getting a “W”— it’s nice to do it at Pioneer Park.

What’s the toughest part about being on the road?

The toughest part is really just being able to stop thinking about academics before the game, and then having to turn it back on. Because Grinnell is a challenging academic place, it’s not easy to have to leave in the morning on a Thursday, and go to a game knowing you have all this academic work to deal with.

What is it like to have another player from Hawaii on the team?

It’s nice to have a person from Hawaii on the team because coming from Hawaii, it’s an entirely different culture from the Midwest. At home we speak a little differently, so people may have a hard time understanding us at first. It’s nice to have Niko [Takayesu ’17] because it’s a reminder of being home. It’s nice to be able to go home over break and have someone to throw and hit with. And this break some of my teammates came to visit us in Hawaii, so Niko and I took them around the island.

What’s the hardest part about coming from Hawaii to Grinnell?

It’s just dealing with the winter, man. Before I came here my freshman year, I hadn’t even seen snow. I thought low 70s was cold. It sounds absolutely ridiculous now, but I would go to school in a jacket if it was low 70s. And ever since I’ve prospied here, I haven’t worn a jacket in Hawaii.

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