After being split in opposing dugouts for seven innings, last season’s Hawaii softball team united for one more celebration.
The five seniors who helped spur the Rainbow Wahine to the Women’s College World Series played against their former teammates in the program’s annual alumnae game last night.
After the 2011 edition closed out a 9-2 win, they hustled over to the Stan Sheriff Center, where the full 2010 team received bracelets commemorating their historic run during halftime of the Rainbow Warriors basketball team’s season opener.
The ceremony marked the first time they were together since ending the season in the WCWS in Oklahoma City.
"It brings back so much," said former UH catcher Katie Grimes, who is attending graduate school at Boston University and flew back on Thursday to participate in the game and the bracelet presentation.
"It’s amazing," she said of the team’s chemistry. "I wish I could teach this. I wish I could tell people how to make this happen because it’s so unique."
The ceremony, capped by a standing ovation, brought a sense of closure to UH’s landmark season, while the win over the alumnae punctuated a productive fall season for the Wahine heading into the spring.
"We know where we’re at more than we did in the beginning," pitcher Stephanie Ricketts said. "A lot of the question marks have been answered and we know what to work on and what our strengths are."
Ricketts, Kaia Parnaby and Jenna Rodriguez scattered three hits to an alumnae lineup that included last year’s seniors and three players — Kate Robinson, Tyleen Tausaga and Tanisha Milca — who are playing professionally in Italy. Kristi Yoshizawa played for Great Britain’s national team in the ISF Women’s World Championships in Venezuela last summer.
Sarah Robinson earned some bragging rights over big sister Kate, going 2-for-4 with a two-run single in the second inning and a leadoff home run in the fifth.
"I was just focusing and just pretending that wasn’t my sister out there and it was just another pitcher," Sarah Robinson said. "And it paid off."
After Robinson opened the scoring, the Wahine lead grew to 3-0 on Rodriguez’s RBI double to left in the third. Jocelyn Enrique doubled in another run in the fourth.
Robinson, a junior, has been locked in a tight competition at first base with Makani Duhaylonsod-Kaleimamahu and made a statement with homers in last week’s exhibition against Chaminade and again last night.
"You reflect back on Kate’s career and she had a bust-out year her junior year and you hope Sarah is mature enough after two years in the program to do the same," UH head coach Bob Coolen said. "Seize the moment and go from there."
After the final out closed the fall, the 2010 team got together for one last look back before the current team turns its full focus to the task awaiting in the spring.
"They have a lot to look forward to and they have the right attitude about it," said former first baseman Amanda Taualii, now an undergraduate assistant. "They’re not looking at last year as, ‘We have to live up to that.’ They want to go past it and surpass that and I think they can."