Mus­tangs’ Pitch­ing Strength Bodes Well For OIA Sea­son

MidWeek Islander (Windward Oahu) - - Windward Oahu Sports - By JACK DANILEWICZ

Epic matchups, like this Satur­day’s game at Waipahu, are what prompted Kala­heo coach Stephen Lee to put to­gether a high-pro­file pre­sea­son sched­ule when he took over the pro­gram in the off-sea­son.

As the base­ball team reaches the mid­way point of its OIA sea­son, the Waipahu game is not ex­actly a must-win, but it is likely the best test the Mus­tangs will face un­til their ex­pected ap­pear­ance in the Di­vi­sion II state tour­na­ment in May.

“These two (last week­end’s Rad­ford game and Satur­day’s game at Waipahu) are im­por­tant games,” said Lee. “They are go­ing to set the tone for us, but our con­fi­dence level is high. Our pre­sea­son sched­ule pre­pared us. We wanted to make sure our pitch­ers went against good teams like Saint Louis and Waipahu.”

Within the OIA White Con­fer­ence, the Mus­tangs haven’t been tested yet, adding even more in­trigue to this week­end. Kala­heo opened the OIA with a 6-4 win over Wa­ialua and was in com­plete com­mand in sweeps of East foes Kaimuki ( 15- 1 and 9- 2) and Far­ring­ton (14-0 and 120).

The cat­a­lyst to date for Kala­heo has been its pitch­ing staff. The Mus­tangs pro­duced no-hit­ters in both wins over Far­ring­ton, us­ing five dif­fer­ent hurlers in game two of that se­ries alone. Kala­heo also com­mit­ted no er­rors in game two.

“The key thing has been their abil­ity to throw strikes,” Lee said. “They’re con­sis­tent, and they’ve been get­ting ahead of the hit­ters.”

Kala­heo’s start­ing ro­ta­tion has in­cluded Chris Palmer, Alika An­dres and Nate Milca, while Matthew An­der­son-lee, Joe Whit­ing, Luke Pauli and set-up man Ben Schofield have carved out re­lief spots.

“We’ve been real happy with our pitch­ing staff,” Lee said of a group that has yielded only seven runs in five games. “We’re try­ing to ro­tate them all now so we’ll have depth if we can get into the state tour­na­ment. Good pitch­ing al­ways will beat good hit­ting.

“We still have work to do, but we’re on the right road. The kids are com­pet­ing re­ally well, and our men­tal ap­proach to the game has been good. The team that comes to play will win. They’re putting up the num­bers, and they’re start­ing to gel.”

Of­fen­sively, the Mus­tangs have pro­duced 56 runs in five games, led by An­dres and ju­nior Chris Sieple. Both play­ers are hit­ting over .500. “Our bats are com­ing along nicely,” Lee ad­mit­ted.

Waipahu fin­ished sec­ond (to Rad­ford) in the OIA DII tour­na­ment last year af­ter win­ning the OIA ti­tle in 2009 un­der long­time coach Mil­ton Tak­e­naka. The Ma­raud­ers took a 2-0 record into late last week, hav­ing had a hand­ful of games post­poned be­cause of rain.

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