Saturday, November 28, 2015         


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Hawaii powers to title

By Jason Kaneshiro


The Hawaii bats took a little while to get warmed up yesterday.

But given the way the Rainbow Wahine pitchers threw this weekend, the offense had ample time to find its rhythm.

Stephanie Ricketts and Kaia Parnaby combined to allow five hits while striking out 15 in wins over Southern Utah and UC Davis yesterday as Hawaii captured the Oceanic Time Warner Cable Paradise Classic championship at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.

Parnaby was engaged in a pitcher's duel against Southern Utah until UH senior Melissa Gonzalez delivered a tie-breaking grand slam in the sixth inning to propel the Wahine into the final with a 5-1 win.

Ricketts then completed a dominant weekend in an 8-0 mercy-rule win over UC Davis in the tournament finale, finishing with eight strikeouts and no walks.

UH posted a team earned-run average of 0.44 while holding its five opponents to a .143 batting average in the tournament.

"I couldn't be more pleased with our pitching right now," UH head coach Bob Coolen said. "Both of them toed the rubber really well and did a good job."

Ricketts was a unanimous pick as the tournament's most outstanding pitcher and ended play with a streak of 18 scoreless innings. In her three wins, she posted 25 strikeouts while giving up nine hits and, perhaps most notably, one walk in 19 innings.

"That doesn't normally happen, but that's cool," the junior right-hander said. "I just think of myself as a pitcher who holds down other teams until our team scores. But any way it happens, that's cool with me."

Ricketts won a 1-0 eight-inning thriller against Texas State on Friday and got all the offensive support she needed yesterday against UC Davis, a co-defending Big West champion, when the Wahine scratched out two runs in both the first and second innings.

UH ended the game in the sixth when freshman Sharla Kliebenstein launched the first home run of her career, a three-run shot to center field to bring the mercy rule into effect.

"She went after (an outside pitch), and she gets to full extension, and the ball hops off her bat," Coolen said.

Gonzalez's second homer of the season had a bit more drama to it earlier in the day.

In their first game of the afternoon, the Wahine had been scuffling against Southern Utah's Danielle Axe, who limited UH to a single run going into the sixth despite eight walks.

Pinch hitter Shannon Lum was hit by a pitch to open the bottom of the sixth and pinch runner Dara Pagaduan went to third on a wild pitch and sacrifice bunt by Jasey Jensen. After walks to Kelly Majam and Jessica Iwata, Gonzalez broke the 1-1 tie with her first career grand slam.

"I didn't feel I was doing too well in this tournament, but this game, I was seeing the ball," said Gonzalez, who had doubled earlier in the game. "I just needed a ball in my zone, and I knew I could do something with it. I wasn't sure I could take it over, but I knew I could do something."

Parnaby gave up a home run to Haylee Hoch in the second inning, then retired 11 straight at one stretch and finished with seven strikeouts in a two-hit performance.

Gonzalez was named to the all-tournament team along with Jensen, Majam, Alex Aguirre and Jenna Rodriguez.

Majam was a unanimous pick as the most valuable player after hitting .600 with an on-base percentage of .789. She walked eight times in five games to go along with six hits, including a homer on Thursday.

"That's my job as leadoff batter, just to get on base," said Majam, who entered the season knowing teams might try to work the edges of the plate after she led the nation in home runs last year.

"I need to focus on hitting the outside pitch because I know that's where a lot of teams are going to be throwing me. ... I know it's going to be really specific places where they want to pitch me, so that's something I need to work on."

The Wahine close their season-opening homestand tomorrow against Texas State at 5 p.m. at RWSS.



At Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium

UC Davis (2-2) 000 000 -- 0 3 0
Hawaii (4-0) 220 004 -- 8 7 0

Jessica Thweatt, Kasie Cochran (3) and JJ Wagoner. Stephanie Ricketts and Sharla Kliebenstein. W--Ricketts. L--Thweatt.
Leading hitters--UCD: Alex Holmes 2-3. UH: Kelly Majam 2b; Jessica Iwata 2-4; 2B; Kliebenstein 2-3, HR, 4 RBIs.



At Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium

Southern Utah (2-2) 010 000 -- 1 2 0
Hawaii (4-0) 100 004 -- 5 5 0

Danielle Axe, Heather Black (6) and Brittany Henderson. Kaia Parnaby and Sharla Kliebenstein. W--Parnaby. L--Axe.
Leading hitters--SU: Haylee Hoch, HR. UH: Melissa Gonzalez 2-2, 2B, HR, 4 RBIs; Alex Aguirre 2B.


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