Campbell has pair of aces to throw at foes
By Kalani Takase
Advertiser Staff Writer
Charles Ka'alekahi and Robert Kahana are much the same.
The Campbell baseball players are around the same height (Ka'alekahi is 6-2 and Kahana is 6-1), weigh about the same (180 and 175, respectively) and both are front-of-the-rotation right-handers for the Sabers' pitching staff.
"They're two of the guys that we have high hopes for this season," Campbell head coach Rory Pico said.
Ka'alekahi and Kahana even had near-identical stat lines in a pair of wins over Mililani last week in O'ahu Interscholastic Association action.
Ka'alekahi, who goes by Kale, pitched a complete-game three-hitter Wednesday and batted 2 for 4 with a double in the 6-2 win over the Trojans. Kahana also was 2 for 4 at the plate with a homer and two RBIs.
In Saturday's 3-1 win, Kahana tossed a three-hit complete game and batted 2 for 4 while Ka'alekahi also went 2 for 4 and scored twice.
"It was a real confidence boost," Pico said of last week's victories, which put his team in a tie for first place in the Red West with Pearl City at 4-0. "Mililani is perennially there in the OIA and state tournaments every year, so that was big for our boys. We couldn't ask for a better position than we are in now."
Ka'alekahi, a senior and third-year varsity member, signed with the University of Hawai'i in the fall. He gave the Rainbows a verbal commitment near the end of his junior season.
"Kale's always been a hard worker and I think that's one of the reasons why (UH) went after him so early," said Pico, a former UH infielder.
Pico said Ka'alekahi throws a fastball, slider and change-up. Kahana, a junior and second-year varsity player, has a fastball and two variations on his curveball.
"They were both able to throw multiple pitches for strikes," Pico said. "I think that was the most important thing. Command of those other pitches — not just the fastball — was the issue in the preseason, but now that they've got some innings under their belts, it seems like their confidence has returned."
Pico said that when one of them is pitching, the other plays shortstop and if neither is on the mount, they make up the Sabers' middle infield. Kahana is the second batter in the lineup, while Ka'alekahi bats clean-up.
Kahana, who was primarily used as an infielder last year, has benefitted from shadowing Ka'alekahi so far this season, Pico said.
"He came on board as a sophomore last year and it took him a little while to get used to the system, but once he did, he fit in real nicely," Pico said. "He was our starting shortstop last year, but we lost a couple of arms from last season, so he stepped up. He's been doing a lot of the same things that Kale does — warm-ups and overall throwing program — and I think that's helped him. His arm has gotten a lot stronger and that's given him a lot of confidence."
While Pico certainly won't complain about the complete-game efforts he got from the pair last week, he realizes other players will have to prove their worth on the mound over the course of the season.
"It's good in a way, but at the same time, I kind of want to work our other pitchers as well and get them some innings," Pico said. "I think in our four games so far, just three guys have thrown and playoff games are on consecutive days, so we'll need more than two guys down the road."
Campbell plays Kapolei twice this week. The Sabers host the Hurricanes tomorrow and play at Kapolei on Saturday.