Lady Mus­tangs Take ‘Team Men­tal­ity’ Into Soft­ball Open­ing

MidWeek Islander (Windward Oahu) - - Windward Oahu Sports -

Should Kala­heo’s girls soft­ball team come un­done at any point this sea­son, it will be from with­out and not from within, ac­cord­ing to head coach John Spencer, who may have his most co­he­sive group yet.

“Our great­est at­tribute is their abil­ity to play to­gether,” said Spencer. “The thing that stands out is that they have a ‘team’ men­tal­ity. It doesn’t mat­ter whether you are a se­nior, ju­nior, sopho­more or fresh­man on this team. There are no age bar­ri­ers, and I’ve never had that be­fore in the be­gin­ning (of pre­sea­son).”

Kala­heo was hop­ing to add to its co­he­sive­ness over the week­end on Maui for the Lahainaluna pre­sea­son tour­na­ment, as well as a pair of sep­a­rate scrim­mages ver­sus both Maui and Lanai high schools.

“We’ll be play­ing a lot of ball,” Spencer ad­mit­ted.

The Mus­tangs went 5-7 last year, their first bad run in Di­vi­sion II since 2012, and will field a rel­a­tively young ros­ter over­all this spring. Lead­er­ship, how­ever, still should be solid with se­niors Jaque­lyn Howard, Au­tumn Grant, Kylie Ishi­maru and Bri­anna Gor­gonio back in the fold.

Howard is a four-year player and slated to be No. 1 in Kala­heo’s pitch­ing hi­er­ar­chy again. “She’s a trooper,” Spencer said. “I ad­mire her abil­ity to play hard-nosed. Her po­si­tion is the hard­est you could have.”

When not on the mound, Howard likely will fill a spot in the in­field. Grant is ex­pected to play third base (she’s also a catcher), while Ishi­maru will be at sec­ond.

“Au­tumn is a sec­ondyear player from the Main­land and our No. 1 catcher,” Spencer said. “Kylie is a third-year player (at Kala­heo) and a speedy girl on the bases. She’s quick at sec­ond (base).”

Gor­gonio is an out­fielder/ first base­man ca­pa­ble of do­ing dam­age on the of­fen­sive side, ac­cord­ing to her coach. “She’s our strong­est hit­ter,” Spencer said. “She’ll come in and knock one out (for a home run) on you.”

The Mus­tangs are seek­ing their first state tour­na­ment ap­pear­ance since 2012, when they were the OIA DII run­ner-up to Nanakuli. Kala­heo must fin­ish among the top six White teams to en­sure a play­off spot.

“It will be a to­tal team ef­fort,” Spencer pre­dicted. “We’re not go­ing to be a team of all-stars, but the kids have been buy­ing in, and we hope to main­tain that.

“Our four se­niors have been through the rough parts, but we’ll be young again,” he added. “We’ll still be feisty as ever. This is a real good group of kids.”

Kala­heo opens its OIA White sea­son Satur­day at Wa­ialua. Its sea­son home slate in­cludes Aiea March 14, Anu­enue March 16, Far­ring­ton March 21, Kalani March 28 and Kahuku April 4.

The thing that stands out is that they have a ‘team’ men­tal­ity. It doesn’t mat­ter whether you are a se­nior, ju­nior, sopho­more or fresh­man on this team. There are no age bar­ri­ers, and I’ve

be­gin­ning.” never seen that be­fore in the

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