Peejay Brun will be wearing the visiting team’s colors today. But being back at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium still feels like home.
"I love coming back here," said Brun, now an assistant coach at Texas State. "It just reminds me of back in the days I played here, and the fans are always awesome to have around. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing with them or against them, it’s just always a good crowd."
Brun, a Kauai High graduate, helped set the foundation for the Hawaii program as a member of the first Rainbow Wahine team to reach the NCAA regionals back in 1994.
Now she’s hoping the Bobcats can knock off her alma mater when Hawaii and Texas State play today at 5 p.m. at RWSS.
The Rainbow Wahine (5-0), ranked eighth and 13th in the national polls, and Bobcats (2-3) met on the second night of the Oceanic Time Warner Cable Paradise Classic on Friday, with UH pulling out a 1-0 dramatic win in eight innings. Today’s rematch closes UH’s season-opening homestand as well as Texas State’s visit to the islands.
HAWAII VS. TEXAS STATE
» When: Today, 5 p.m.
» Where: Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium
» TV: None
» Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM
"That was a great ballgame," Brun said of Friday’s duel between UH’s Stephanie Ricketts and Texas State’s Chandler Hall. "They have a great team, and our kids were able to step up and play really hard against them. We’re hoping to bring that out again (today)."
The Bobcats closed the Paradise Classic with two losses on Saturday to finish fourth in the tournament, while Hawaii beat Southern Utah and UC Davis to clinch the title.
UH outscored its opponents 32-3 in five games and ended three by the mercy rule. Ricketts and Kaia Parnaby combined for 39 strikeouts against four walks. Ricketts posted a career-high 12 strikeouts in her complete-game win over Texas State on Friday.
Brun played for the Rainbow Wahine starting in 1990 and experienced the transition when Bob Coolen took over as UH head coach in 1992.
Her senior season, Brun and current UH associate coach Dee Wisneski were integral members of the breakthrough 1994 season when the Wahine went 51-14 and made the program’s first postseason appearance.
The Wahine have returned to the regionals eight times since, peaking with last year’s appearance in the Women’s College World Series.
"I always knew the potential was there, and to watch them in the World Series last year was the best feeling," said Brun, whose coaching career began at Moanalua High and has included a four-year stint as head coach at Siena College in New York.
"That meant even more to know after that one successful season we had that everything has stayed up from that. And to see the name Hawaii softball has now is just tremendous."
Brun, in her fifth year at Texas State, has played a role in the Bobcats’ ascent as well. Texas State, which will join the Western Athletic Conference in 2012 when UH moves to the Big West, has won the past three Southland Conference regular-season titles and played in the regionals in 2009.
"It’s been an awesome feeling there," Brun said. "They were always successful prior to me getting the job there, but seeing them be on that consistent high level has been fun to be a part of and reminds me a lot of what we experienced here (at Hawaii)."
Admission to UH softball games is free. The Na Wahine Softball Booster Club will be accepting donations to the program at the front gate during home games this season. Fans interested in joining the club can also sign up at the games.