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UH softball team splits with Oregon, Valparaiso

Oregon scored seven runs in the sixth inning to pull away from the University of Hawaii softball team in a 12-4 win on Friday in the Pepsi Rainbow Wahine Classic. UH bounced back with an 8-4 win over Valparaiso to begin bracket play and earned a rematch with Oregon on Saturday.

The Rainbow Wahine (13-13) and second-ranked Ducks (22-2) meet at 11 a.m. Saturday in a semifinal game at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium. Second-seeded James Madison faces BYU at 1 p.m. The winners meet for the tournament championship at 3.

In UH’s first game on Friday, the Wahine took a 3-0 lead against Oregon on Ulu Matagiese’s home run in the bottom of the second.

Oregon answered with four runs in the top of the fourth and took the lead on Kailee Cuico’s two-run homer.

The teams traded runs and Oregon took a 5-4 lead into the sixth inning. The Ducks sent 12 batters to the plate and Alyssa Gillespie’s three-run homer sparked the seven-run outburst.

Oregon reliever Jasmine Smithson-Willett threw 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief and earned the win for the Ducks. Heather Morales took the loss for UH.

The loss dropped UH to the fifth seed in the bracket and the Wahine survived to play Saturday with their second win over fourth-seeded Valparaiso.

Keiki Carlos hit two home runs and Loie Kesterson allowed six hits and struck out three in a complete-game victory.

UH was the designated visiting team and Carlos homered on the first pitch she saw in the top of the first inning. Kayla Wartner gave UH a 2-0 lead on a double into the right-field corner scoring Leisha Li’ili’i from first.

Valparaiso scored a run off of Kesterson in the bottom of the first and the Wahine extended the lead to 3-1 in the third on Sharla Kliebenstein’s sacrifice fly.

UH broke away with five runs in the fourth. Lindsey Willmon drove in Sarina Jaramillo with a single and Carlos launched a three-run homer to center. After a pitching change, Li’ili’i followed with her team-leading eighth home run of the season.

Valparaiso scratched out two runs in the fourth and one in the sixth, but Kesterson held off the Crusaders to improve to 7-4.

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