Lady Mus­tangs Face Kahuku, Kailua In Soft­ball Open­ers

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

The Kalaheo girls soft­ball team won’t have to wait long to make an im­pact af­ter be­ing pro­moted to Di­vi­sion I in the off-sea­son.

The Mus­tangs were to open their sea­son Tues­day at Kahuku be­fore turn­ing their at­ten­tion to a game with neigh­bor­hood ri­val Kailua at 3:30 p.m. Thurs­day at Aikahi Park.

“They’re right next door — you can’t get any closer than we are — so it will be very, very in­ter­est­ing,” head coach John Spencer said. “We’ll be up against some good com­pe­ti­tion, but I think we’re good enough. (Mov­ing up to DI) is a good thing for us, at this stage.”

Kalaheo went 12-6 over­all last year and fin­ished as the OIA Di­vi­sion II run­ner-up to Nanakuli. The Mus­tangs, who were to move on to the semi­fi­nals of the DII state soft­ball tour­na­ment in the days that fol­lowed, won nine straight games at one point last sea­son.

Spencer will build his cur­rent team around se­nior Mahina Turner and ju­nior Kamele Ka­hanu. Both were reg­u­lars in the lineup last sea­son and will be counted on to set the tone this time around. “Mahina’s a ‘player,’ ” Spencer said of Turner, who will play short­stop or third base when not the start­ing pitcher. “She’s taken on the role of leader and right­fully so since she has the most ex­pe­ri­ence. She as­sumed that po­si­tion on her own and leads by ex­am­ple. She’s taken con­trol.”

Ka­hanu was a play­maker in cen­ter field this year, but is tran­si­tion­ing to the po­si­tion of catcher this spring. “She’s taken up the chal­lenge,” Spencer said. “She’ll do any­thing that you ask of her. She’s an ath­lete. She’s also a very good soc­cer player. She’s quick and will add a new di­men­sion there (be­hind the plate).”

Dur­ing pre­sea­son, Spencer re­garded his team as one of gen­er­al­ists rather than spe­cial­ists. “Be­cause we’re so young, I like the abil­ity of the kids to be able to play mul­ti­ple po­si­tions. We used that as a gauge as we were con­cen­trat­ing on who would play where. We think we have it down now, but the proof in the pud­ding, so to speak, will come this week. We’ll be ready.”

Of­fen­sively, Kalaheo was one of the best in Di­vi­sion II last sea­son, tal­ly­ing an im­pres­sive 183 runs in 18 games. Main­tain­ing the pace has been among the fo­cal points of pre­sea­son. “We’ve been hit­ting a lot against ‘ma­chine pitch­ing’ as well as live pitch­ing, and we’ve been mak­ing good con­tact and putting balls in play, which is what we want at this point. Kamele and Mahina are long-ball hit­ters. For the rest of the team, we’re look­ing at them mak­ing con­tact. Our hit­ting is coming along. With youth there is po­ten­tial and prom­ise.”

The Kailua Surfrid­ers also are coming off a solid sea­son, hav­ing gone 12-7 en route to an­other Di­vi­sion I state tour­na­ment ap­pear­ance.

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