The University of Hawaii softball team bounced back from a heartbreaking loss to earn a split of Saturday’s Big West doubleheader against UC Santa Barbara.
UCSB’s MeShalon Moore hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Gauchos a 9-8 win the first game at UCSB’s Campus Diamond.
The Rainbow Wahine (20-23, 5-9 BWC) gave up a six-run lead in the bottom of the seventh inning in the second game, but Leisha Li’ili’i’s home run in the top of the ninth sent UH to a 9-8 win and snapped an eight-game losing streak.
UH and UCSB meet in the series finale on Sunday at 9 a.m. Hawaii time.
In Saturday’s first game, the Wahine took leads into the bottom of the seventh and eighth innings, but UCSB (29-18, 9-5) came up with tying and game-winning two-run homers both times to extend UH’s losing streak to eight, the program’s longest skid since 1993.
Hawaii erased an early 4-1 deficit on Keiki Carlos’ three-run homer in the top of the third inning and took a 7-5 lead in the sixth on Kayla Wartner’s two-run double.
UH pitcher Loie Kesterson got two quick outs in the bottom of the seventh and twice had the Gauchos down to their final strike. But Lauren Boser drew a walk and Emily Brucelas homered to left center to send the game into extra innings.
UH reclaimed the lead when Lindsey Willmon led off the top of the eighth with the 10th home run of her freshman season.
Shelby Wisdom reached on a one-out single in the bottom of the inning and Moore homered to left field to give the Gauchos the win.
Hawaii bounced back quickly in the second game with three runs in the top of the second on back-to-back RBI doubles by Sarina Jaramillo and Willmon followed by Kristina Akiona’s RBI single.
Jaramiilo delivered another run-scoring single in the third and Heather Morales’ RBI ground-rule double in the fourth pushed UH’s lead to 6-2. Li’ili’i added a two-run homer in the top of the seventh to give UH a six-run cushion.
UCSB strung together five singles, a bases-loaded walk and a sacrifice fly to close to 8-6 with two out in the bottom of the seventh. Brucelas then delivered a two-run single to force extra innings.
Li’ili’i broke the tie with her second homer of the game and Morales stranded the tying run on base in the bottom of the ninth to close out the complete-game win.