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Lady Mustangs Heat Up Their Bats To Finish In Playoffs

The Kalaheo girls softball team began its OIA Red season with much emphasis on offensive play, and as it reached the midway point, that mindset hasn’t changed, to hear head coach John Spencer tell it.

“If you can hit, you get runners on base and you score,” said Spencer. “We’re not an overwhelming pitching team, so we have to depend on our team defense and our hitting. We seem to be doing well getting people on base, (but) we’re putting the bat on the ball – and seem to be putting the ball right in their glove.

“Now, we have to be luckier and produce a few more runs. It all comes back to the hitting.”

Kalaheo, which moved down to Division II during the off-season, took a 2-3 mark into its game with Farrington late last week. The Mustangs visit Aiea today (March 26) in another key matchup. That game also will conclude a brutal stretch of five straight road games, including a pair against league-leader Nanakuli, which has dominated the league to date.

Spencer and the Mustangs are hoping a late-season run can move them into the playoff discussion. The top four finishers in the OIA White qualify for the post-season tournament. With that in mind, every game now is critical, according to Spencer, whose team’s wins have come against Radford and Kalani.

“Every game has the potential to get you in (the playoffs) or not. Hopefully, you peak at the end of the season and get some wins under your belt by then.”

A late-season run was instrumental in Kalaheo’s success in 2012 when it last competed in Division II, as it finished 12-6 overall and as the OIA DII runner-up, earning a berth in the DII state softball tournament.

The Aiea team is considered to be among the league’s best. Na Ali’i took a 3-1 record into last weekend, with their only loss coming in a 3-1 count to still-undefeated Nanakuli. Kalaheo and Aiea did not meet last year since the Mustangs competed in Division I.

“If they are anything like their previous teams, we’ll have to work hard (for a win),” Spencer said. “They always have the basics down. They’re usually not overwhelming, but steady, getting a couple runs each inning.”

Kalaheo got a recent boost when freshman Michelle Sasaki was cleared to return to action after recovering from a concussion. She’d missed all five games, but was expected back in the lineup for Kalaheo’s game late last week with Farrington.

“She’s like a utility player – she can play any position,” Spencer said. “She came to us from Little League Baseball and had a lot of experience there. We’re looking forward to having her back. She has a lot of moxie. Anything you want her to do, she’ll do.”

Following Wednesday’s road trip to Aiea, Kalaheo has five contests remaining: Anuenue (at home March 29), Waialua (at home April 3), Radford (away April 5), Aiea (at home April 12) and Waialua (away April 19).