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Stephen Tsai | The Honolulu Star-Advertiser | May 10, 2018

Hawaii baseball boasts perfect grad rate for eighth straight year

Hawaii baseball player Johnny Weeks leads the NCAA in sacrifice bunts.

He is willingly making another sacrifice when he skips Saturday's UH commencement in the Stan Sheriff Center. The Rainbow Warriors departed on Wednesday ahead of this weekend's road series against Fresno State.

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Weeks is among 14 'Bows who are set to meet the requirements for a bachelor's degree. In addition to the 11 seniors, there are three graduates who have a season of eligibility remaining. This is the eighth year in a row the 'Bows' senior class will have a perfect graduation rate.

"Our goal is come here and graduate and develop as a baseball player and also as a man and a citizen," UH coach Mike Trapasso said. "We want you to leave better than you came, and leave the program better than when you came."

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A scheduling conflict forced the 'Bows to move this weekend's series from Les Murakami Stadium to Fresno State. The 'Bows will play their final homestand the following weekend, with a ceremony honoring the seniors on May 20. Ronald Cambra, UH-Manoa's assistant vice chancellor for undergraduate education, will present a replica diploma to each of the graduates on senior day.

"Having a little ceremony with you and your teammates, it makes it pretty special," Weeks said. "It's a shorter period of time."

2018 Hawaii graduates:
Jedd Andrad, OF
*Colin Ashworth, P
Matt Estes, P
Brody Hagel-Pitt, P
Chayce Ka'aua, C
Troy Kakugawa, IF
Jordan LaFave, IF
*David Noworyta, C
Eric Ramirez, 1B
*Jackson Rees, P
Matt Richardson, P
Neil Uskali, P
Dylan Vchulek, OF
Johnny Weeks, IF

* Has a year of UH eligibility remaining

Catcher Chayce Ka'aua said he prefers the senior day recognition to the commencement ceremony. "I'm not going to sit for three hours to walk 10 seconds across the stage," Ka'aua said. "Ours is just as good."

Center fielder Dylan Vchulek, who transferred from Bellevue College in August 2016, said he will be the "first Vchulek to graduate."

"It would have been cool to have my parents see me walk," Vchulek said. "They know I have other commitments. Baseball is the key in my life. ... But it's pretty great I've been able to achieve all my goals in the classroom, as well as almost all my goals on the field. I'm very thankful my parents have been supporting me so much."

First baseman Eric Ramirez said he is first person in his family to attend a four-year college. He said his older brother Alex encouraged him to take the sport seriously.

"He knew that would be the only way to get to college," Ramirez said. "We didn't have too much financially. The only way to go to college was to get a scholarship. ... Being the first one in my family to go to college and then graduating, that's the biggest thing. That's the whole reason I came here."

There are a few UH juniors who are expected to be selected in next month's Major League Baseball draft. Trapasso and academic counselor Garrett Clanin make sure the juniors remain on the graduation track. That way if they leave school early, Trapasso said, "they don't have too much more to take on their own."

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MLB teams usually are accommodating in including a clause to pay for remaining studies for players who leave college early.

Jackson Rees, a right-handed pitcher, is expected to be drafted as a junior next month. He already has completed work on a bachelor's degree. That gives him the option to pursue a pro career, if one is available, or return to UH for his senior season.

"We'll see what happens," Rees said. 

This article is written by Stephen Tsai from The Honolulu Star-Advertiser and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.