Spencer’s Mus­tangs Re­group Fol­low­ing Move To Di­vi­sion II

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

With a ros­ter heavy with un­der­class­men, the tim­ing was per­haps ideal for Kala­heo girls soft­ball team’s trip to Maui over the weekend. De­vel­op­ing co­he­sive­ness has been a pre­vail­ing theme for the Mus­tangs this pre-sea­son, to hear head coach John Spencer tell it.

“(De­vel­op­ing team unity) will be a key to our suc­cess,” Spencer said on the eve of the trip. “Hope­fully, we can re­ceive some lessons over there, work hard and get what we need to get done. For us, it will be fun to go and get our feet wet for the (reg­u­lar) sea­son. We have some kids who haven’t trav­eled be­fore, so that should be fun. Some­thing like this is def­i­nitely an ad­van­tage for us.”

Spencer and the Mus­tangs are in re­group mode this spring af­ter be­ing moved back down to Di­vi­sion II in the off-sea­son. When pro­moted to DI prior to the 2013 slate, Kala­heo strug­gled to a 1-10 mark against Di­vi­sion I com­pe­ti­tion. The good news is that Kala­heo al­ways has fared well when in Di­vi­sion II, such as two years ago when the Mus­tangs fin­ished 12- 6 over­all and as the Oahu In­ter­scholas­tic As­so­ci­a­tion Di­vi­sion II run­ner- up to Nanakuli. That Kala­heo team also made the semi­fi­nals of the DataHouse DII State Soft­ball Tour­na­ment, and posted a ninegame win streak at one point.

Should Kala­heo pro­duce that kind of suc­cess this time around, they will do it by com­mit­tee, ac­cord­ing to the coach.

“Right now, no one is step­ping up above any­one else,” said Spencer, who is now in his fifth sea­son at the helm of the pro­gram. “We’ll have to do it with a team ef­fort be­cause of our youth. (Lead­ers) will prob­a­bly come at the half­way point (of the sea­son). Hope­fully, we will have de­vel­oped one or two by that point, which would be nice.

“I’m very ex­cited about this group,” he added. “They’re very en­thu­si­as­tic, and I think we’ll be more suc­cess­ful this year.”

Of­fen­sive out­put was an is­sue for Kala­heo last year, but Spencer is eye­ing big­ger and bet­ter things at the plate this time around.

“They’re a lot quicker team than we’ve had here in the past, and we’re hop­ing to use that to our ad­van­tage — es­pe­cially in our base-run­ning,” he said. “We’re work­ing hard on that. We’re hit­ting the ball a lot harder, and if we can hit the ball, we’ll have a chance to get some run­ners on. We’ve worked re­ally, re­ally hard at hit­ting the ball and hit­ting it harder. We’ll try and outscore teams. That is how we’ll win games.”

De­fen­sively, the Mus­tangs re­main a work in progress, ac­cord­ing to Spencer.

“We’re kind of aver­age, de­fen­sively, right now,” he said. “We still don’t have a pitcher who is overwhelming, but the girls all try hard, and that’s all you can ask for.”

Spencer and the Mus­tangs an­tic­i­pated bat­tling solid com­pe­ti­tion over the weekend on Maui, where the La­hainaluna Tour­na­ment field was to in­clude Moanalua, Maui High, Bald­win and Kame­hameha in ad­di­tion to host Lu­nas.

Kala­heo opens its OIA White Con­fer­ence sea­son March 6 when the Mus­tangs host Rad­ford.

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