May 15, 2009
Editor's Note: This Q&A ran in the Oregon State GameDay, the official publication of Oregon State Baseball, in the April issue.
By Tucker Smith
Koa Kahalehoe is one of three Oregon State seniors who have been with the program since the 2006 season. He has been a member of two national titles since joining the program from Las Vegas' Durango High School. Oregon State GameDay recently caught up with the left-handed outfielder.
Oregon State: When did Oregon State start recruiting you?
Koa Kahalehoe: "Oregon State recruited me my junior year of high school. They came and watched a couple of my games, and I came on a visit."
Oregon State: Did you expect Oregon State to have the success they have had when they were recruiting you?
Koa Kahalehoe: "The year they recruited me was the year they first went to the College World Series. That kind of shocked me, and the coaching staff is good at taking care of the kids."
Oregon State: What is it about the Oregon State coaching staff that makes them so successful?
Koa Kahalehoe: "It starts with Coach Casey. He is overall a great guy, he is into the community and he loves his players. He would do anything for them that's possible, on the field or off the field."
Oregon State: What did you do over the offseason to prepare for the 2009 season?
Koa Kahalehoe: "I played a few games in the summer league, then I went back home to Las Vegas. I've just been training, not too much lifting, but more explosion work and hitting."
Oregon State: How is playing summer league different than collegiate baseball.
Koa Kahalehoe: "You use a wood bat, and it's not too organized. Its summer baseball, so it's a little more laid back. You meet different players from around the West Coast. You build different networks with different people throughout the season."
What are your expectations for this year?
"I think our team chemistry is a lot better this year. Our talent is unbelievable, our pitching staff is great, our hitters are definitely better than anyone expected. Our coaching staff is really close and on the same page. I think our team is united and we will get better as the season goes on."
Oregon State: What part of your game have you worked the hardest on?
Koa Kahalehoe: "Hitting is something that you can always get better at. It is one of the toughest things to do for any position player. I think I am a lot more focused this year. It has always my goal and I am trying to achive it."
Oregon State: Which of the three outfield positions are you most comfortable in?
Koa Kahalehoe: "I would say I am more comfortable in right field or center field. My speed can control center field and I have a decent arm for right, that's why I think coaches put me there."
Oregon State: What are the strengths of this year's Oregon State club?
Koa Kahalehoe: "Whenever one part of our team is not doing so well, the other parts can step up. If the hitting isn't doing so great the pitching needs to step up. If the pitching isn't so great we need to score runs for our pitchers. So I just think we need to work hand in hand, that is what teamwork is all about."
Oregon State: What have you learned from former Beavers such as Mitch Canham and Darwin Barney?
Koa Kahalehoe: "Just being competitive, Mitch Canham was a warrior; he never backs down from anything. Darwin Barney, even though he didn't do great for the whole year, he was still a leader no matter what. Good times or bad times, he was always positive and always about the team. I think for me as a senior I need to lead by example. I am not really a talkative guy so I need to lead by my actions."
Oregon State: What was your favorite moment of your two trips to Omaha for the College World Series?
Koa Kahalehoe: "My favorite moment was when I was a true freshman. Coach Casey asked me to go out to right field in the bottom of the ninth inning of the championship game. Looking at the crowd and playing in a championship game was great, but when we won and I sprinted into the dogpile I thought that was the best thing ever."
"When Coach told me to warm up I wasn't shocked because I know I can play the game. But while I was stretching and looking on the field, and when I actually got out on the field there was just no better feeling. Of course I had butterflies, but if the ball was hit to me I know I have to play and not think. But since I have been practicing for so long it has to come naturally. The feeling is just incredible. I had never played in an atmosphere like that before."
Oregon State: What are your plans after your senior year here at Oregon State?
Koa Kahalehoe: "After the school year it just depends on where baseball takes me. If I get a chance to play professionally, in the minor leagues that would be great. If not I will just finish my degree (Criminal Justice and Sociology) and go about my business."