Mustangs Improving With Tough Opponents In Legion Play

For the Kalaheo baseball program, its 15-game American Legion League (ALL) season will be akin to a developmental league – at least when it comes to the pitching staff.

“(ALL) is very, very beneficial to a pitcher,” said head coach Stephen Lee. “We have two games a week and a practice on Sunday, so they’ll get the reps. We also have a lot of young kids, some who have just finished eighth grade, who want to get a head start (on prep baseball).”

Kalaheo is coming off a solid spring season – Lee’s first varsity season with the Mustangs – having gone 9-5 while making the OIA DII title game as well as the DII state tournament. Kalaheo also had its first-ever JV team last fall.

Whether or not the Mustangs move up to Division I next year or stay in DII is a decision that will be made later in the summer, but Lee is excited about the prospects for his 2013 team, notably his pitching staff. Together with veterans Nate Milca and Chris Sieple, upand-coming underclassmen Matthew Anderson-Lee, Stephen Lee Jr. and Jack Bell also are expected to handle the bulk of the pitching for Kalaheo this summer in ALL. (The Mustangs currently are 2-2 and return to action at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at Central Oahu Regional Park against Moanalua.)

“Nate’s a hard thrower – he’s throwing around 80 to 85 (miles per hour),” Lee said of Milca, who started the OIA title game for Kalaheo in the spring. “He has a lot of potential. He’s a work in progress. Chris also has the ability to be a great ball player. He can run, too.

“Matt’s work ethic is what makes him a terrific athlete,” he added of Anderson-Lee. “He’s complete. Stephen is not a hard thrower, but he has a great understanding of pitching. He’s our most consistent right now.”

Bell only will be a sophomore next semester, but he already has a year of varsity baseball under his belt. “He’s a classic pitcher, long and lanky – I think he’s 6-foot-2. He has a good fastball and the physical abilities to be a starter. He’s still developing.”

Catcher Geoffrey Craighead is with the team this summer but will be relocating with his family to Virginia. Lee has high hopes for fellow sophomore Brandon Burton to step in and fill the void.

Among the benefits of ALL is that Kalaheo gets to play a handful of ILH teams, something the Mustangs made a point of during their preseason last spring.

“Playing the Punahous and Mid-Pacifics is great for our kids. It gives them a chance to see good pitching. The kids have been doing extremely well lately.”