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West // West Oahu Sports

Campbell Starts Season Strong, Aims To Improve Pitching

Campbell head coach Rory Pico stopped short of saying his Sabers were playing their best baseball of the season, despite an impressive 3-0 start to their OIA West slate. If anything, the veteran coach has the big picture in mind.

“I think we’re headed in the right direction, but we still have so much more work to do,” said Pico, whose team opened its season with wins over Leilehua (3-1), Aiea (11-0) and Waipahu (9-1). “Our pitchers haven’t given up much, but we haven’t pitched that well yet. We haven’t been hitting our spots, and we’ve been falling behind in the count.

“Our defense has played well so far. We have to hope we’ll improve day to day and game to game.”

Saturday’s home date at 11 a.m. with Pearl City is the next hurdle. (The teams also will play at Pearl City April 10.) The Sabers figure to be well-rested after a week layoff following their last encounter with Kapolei. With that in mind, Pico will have the full complement of his pitching staff to choose from in naming a starter.

Ian Kahaloa already has picked up wins over Leilehua and Waipahu, while Jasten Smeigh was the winning pitcher in the Aiea game. He’s coming off a solid junior season. “He mixes up his pitches well, and he can throw strikes at any time in the count,” Pico said. “He throws four pitches – fastball, change(-up), curve ball and a slider.”

Offensively, first baseman Rayven Kahana has set the pace. “He was our leading hitter last year, and he’s our leading hitter again this year so far,” Pico said of Kahana, who was a 2012 First Team All-Conference selection as a junior. “He’s a hard-working kid and one of our leaders. He’s been clutch for us. He’s a good student as well.”

Pico also got some good news last week when shortstop Dylan Ramie was cleared to return to action after rehabbing from a knee injury. “Hopefully, getting him back will provide a spark for us,” said Pico, the West’s 2012 Coach of the Year. “He’s another leader for us.”

The Chargers began their season at 2-0, posting wins over Leilehua and Kapolei. They had an open date on their schedule prior to last weekend’s game with Waipahu and were to play Mililani Wednesday. “From what I’ve seen, they’re hitting the ball and scoring a lot of runs, and they have some veteran pitchers,” Pico said of the Pearl City team. “We’ll have to play good defense, and we’ll have to find a way to score some runs. They’re always good.

“Pitching and defense will always keep you in the game. Lately, we’ve been scratching for runs here and there. Hopefully, we’ll keep improving.”

Following the key game with Pearl City, Campbell will play three of its next four games at home, hosting Mililani March 20, Aiea March 27 and Waipahu March 30 with a road date at Leilehua March 22.

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