The University of Hawaii softball team rallied from a five-run deficit to open the Easton Desert Classic with a 10-5 win over UTEP on Thursday in Las Vegas.
After UTEP jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, Alyssa Villalpando tied the game with a three-run home run in the second and Leisha Li’ili’i gave the Rainbow Wahine the lead with a homer to lead off the third inning.
After UTEP’s first-inning outburst, UH freshman Heather Morales shutout the Miners over the next six innings while holding UTEP to three hits. Morales also went 2-for-3 at the plate, including a two-run single in the fourth inning to cap the scoring for UH.
The four-day tournament continues Friday with the Rainbow Wahine facing No. 1/2 Florida and Seattle.
UTEP scored its first run on an error by Morales and Ashley Eldredge’s grand slam gave the Miners a 5-0 lead.
UH answered in the second when Sharla Kliebenstein drove in two runs with a double to left-center and Villalpando followed with her first home run of the season to tie the game.
Li’ili’i’s third homer of the season gave UH a 6-5 lead and the Wahine added four more runs in the fourth. Jazmine Zamora drove in Kliebenstein from third with a groundout and Keiki Carlos added a single to score Villalpando. With two out, Morales’ bases-loaded single scored Kayla Wartner and Carlos to push UH’s lead to 10-5.
Morales (4-1) held off the Miners the rest of the way to close out the complete-game win and finished with four strikeouts and one walk.