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Machado comes back in from cold to become a hot hitter for the 'Bows

Mar. 21—The nephew of a Surfing Walk of Fame inductee grew up in the beach community of Cardiff by the Sea, Calif.

The nephew of a Surfing Walk of Fame inductee grew up in the beach community of Cardiff by the Sea, Calif.

And to everyone's surprise, Hawaii catcher Austin Machado spent the previous two baseball seasons playing for St. John's.

"I had to adjust, " Machado said of life in Queens, N.Y. "I think the main thing was the cold weather. That was a tough one to adjust to. I had to constantly get my body loose every time (for games and workouts ). It was really hard for me to do that. Other than that, it was an amazing experience."

Machado, who transferred to UH in August, had aspirations of attending San Diego State, where his sister played volleyball. SDSU is a 30-minute drive from Cardiff by the Sea. With no offers from San Diego-area schools and a senior season wiped out because of the pandemic, Machado enrolled at Cuesta Community College, where he redshirted in 2021.

And then, Machado said, St. John's called "me out of nowhere. They took a chance on me. I thought it would be really cool for me to go there. I'm glad I did it."

He played in 30 games as a second-year freshman in 2022, and batted.303 in 43 games last year.

"It was different experience for me, " he said of the East Coast. "I met some of my best friends there. It was a great experience to do. Just seeing a different perspective in a different part of the country, which was very cool."

And now Machado is at the other end of the country—in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and the Rainbow Warriors' lineup. He has batted third the past two games.

Machado, who has started all 19 games at catcher or designated hitter, is hitting.371 and leading the'Bows in slugging (.565 ), on-base percentage (.529 ), and doubles (nine ). He has drawn 18 walks and been hit by pitches four times in 86 plate appearances.

"Just trying to get on base anyway I can, " Machado said of being struck by pitches. "If you're going to get hit, you're going to get hit. Rich (Hill, UH's head coach ) always preaches getting on base, and I'm just trying to buy into that. If we can buy into that, we can keep on moving the torch and things will happen on the offensive side."

Machado embraces the approach of trying to hit drives up the middle. His form comes from his father, James Machado, head coach at La Costa Canyon High. "My dad worked with me my whole life, " Machado said.

The origin of his left-handed swing is mystery. "My dad said I picked up the bat when I was 2, and I was swinging lefty, " said Machado, who does everything right-handed except swing a bat or golf club.

Machado, an avid surfer, is an unabashed fan of his uncle Rob Machado. The elder Machado competed on the World Surf League Championship Tour for eight years through 2001. He won Pipeline Masters and the U.S. Open of Surfing.

"My uncle is unbelievable, " Machado said. "It's fun to look up to him and all the accomplishments that he's had in his life."

For Machado, it will be a full-circle weekend with UH playing host to San Diego State in a three-game series beginning Friday at Les Murakami Stadium. Machado's on-field emotion leadership is expected to be on display.

"I'm a very competitive person, " Machado said. "I just love to compete. I hate to lose. I love to compete with my brothers. If we can keep doing that, I'll just keep that same energy. I'm always trying to win everything. It's just my competitive spirit."