POSTED: 08:37 p.m. HST, Feb 20, 2014
LAST UPDATED: 01:14 a.m. HST, Feb 21, 2014
After seeing a nine-run lead evaporate, the University of Hawaii softball team pulled out an 11-9 win over San Jose State in the opening game of the Bank of Hawaii Invitational on Thursday at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.
UH (8-4) hit five home runs in the game with Leisha Li'ili'i's two-run shot in the bottom of the fourth inning proving to be the difference.
UH pitcher Heather Morales started for the Rainbow Wahine (8-4), was replaced by Loie Kesterson in the third inning, then returned in the fourth after SJSU rallied from a 9-0 deficit to tie the game. Morales held the Spartans scoreless over the final three innings to earn the win.
UH jumped ahead with four home runs in the first two innings to take a 9-0 lead.
Lindsey Willmon led off the bottom of the first with her fourth home run of the season and the Wahine went deep three more times in an eight-run second inning.
After Jazmine Zamora delivered an RBI single, senior shortstop Kaile Nakao gave UH a 4-0 lead with a three-run homer to center field, just the second of her career.
Keiki Carlos later added a two-run homer with two out and Alyssa Villalpando continued the barrage after a pitching change with another two-run shot to center.
San Jose State answered in the third with a three-run homer by Jessica Garcia, prompting a UH pitching change with Kesterson taking over for Morales.
The Spartans erased the remaining deficit with a six-run fourth inning. Alyssa Martinez drew a bases-loaded walk and Jessie Hufstetler followed with an RBI single. Garcia then tied the game with a grand slam to center field.
UH reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the inning when Li'ili'i launched a two-run homer to right-center, her team-leading sixth of the season.
Morales got out of the fifth with a line-out double play and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the sixth. She then retired the Spartans in order in the seventh.
The tournament continues Friday with three games starting at 2 p.m. Hawaii faces St. Mary's in the final game of the day scheduled for 6 p.m.