BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
Wehiwa Aloy’s baseball journey has led him from Hawaii to California to Arkansas, where last season’s consensus Freshman All-American is presently feeling right at home.
The Sacramento State transfer and Maui native would appear to be the frontrunner to be Arkansas’ starting shortstop next spring as the team’s Fall Baseball World Series gets started Monday at noon.
He has hit at least seven home runs in the Razorbacks scrimmages this fall, something that has obviously impressed Arkansas head coach Dave Horn.
“It has gone pretty good so far and I just have to keep working and get better each day,” Aloy said. “…I have always loved learning new things from different coaches. Coach Van Horn is the guy and he helps me get better every day.”
Van Horn’s team will begin its Fall World Series beginning Monday at noon with a best two of three format with game two is set for Tuesday at noon and if necessary third game on Thursday at a time to announced.
Aloy, the 2022 Maui Interscholastic League Player of the Year for state runner-up Baldwin High School, chose Arkansas over fellow finalists LSU, California and Oregon State as well as some other schools after entering the transfer portal.
After leading Sac State in batting average, at-bats, games, runs, hits, triples, total bases and on-base percentage, Aloy was in high demand.
His 88 hits were the 12th most among NCAA Division I hitters, while his 69 runs scored and 155 total bases were both good for 14th.
“I think he has a chance to be special,” Van Horn said. “He is extremely strong…Aloy is a very, very good defender. He has an extremely accurate arm and is strong. You saw him make come and get it type plays.”
Van Horn compares Aloy to former Arkansas shortstop Jalen Battles, who was a fifth-round draft choice by now in the Tampa Bay in the 2022 Major League Baseball Draft.
“He is a big bodied shortstop, kind of Jalen Battle’sas size except that he has more strength for his age than Jalen did as a sophomore,” Van Horn said. “Because we didn’t have Jalen until he was a junior and Aloy is stronger than him as a sophomore.
“Obviously he has power, he has power the other way, but defensively he is fine.”
Aloy did commit 19 errors last season.
“Definitely my defense for sure,” Aloy said of things he wanted to work on most in the offseason. “I have to clean that up, especially throwing. Throwing was definitely the sure last year so I have to make sure my arms were strong to make accurate throws. It’s been working so far with Coach Van Horn.
Aloy believes his power this fall is a combination of increased strength and a more selective batting eye.
“I feel like it is both,” Aloy said. “I am definitely getting stronger with our strength coach Coach Bell. He is definitely getting us right. And I am just swinging at the right pitches.”
Former Razorback Rick Nomura was integral in getting Aloy to Arkansas.
“He played over here and kind of got me in here, give me the good word,” Aloy said. “They pretty much found me. He said it was the best fan base in the country for sure.”
Aloy and freshman Nolan Souza are both from Hawaii.
“He is fun to watch,” Van Horn said. “Both of our kids from Hawaii are strong and both good defenders. I want them to talk a little more. They both need to talk. They are very quiet. Both great kids and it is fun to have them.”
“It’s pretty cool – two Hawaiians on the same team,” Aloy added. “Definitely rare.”
Aloy is amazed at the number of Arkansas baseball that show up just for practice games.
“We didn’t even have people in the stands,” Aloy said of Sacramento State. “That was unreal, just to see our team to scrimmage and having that many people in the stands. That was crazy.”
His father Jamie played baseball at Hawaii and was a 48th-round selection of the San Francisco Giants in the 1999 Major League Baseball Draft while younger brother Kuhio Aloy is at BYU.
Photo by John D. James