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Home runs power UH softball team past Utah, Long Beach State


Jessica Iwata and Alex Aguirre hit back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to send the Hawaii softball team to an 8-7 win over Utah in its opening game at the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic today in Las Vegas.

Hawaii, ranked ninth and 12th in the national polls, trailed the Utes 7-4 going into the bottom of the seventh inning. After a single and a walk, Iwata launched a three-run homer to tie the game. Aguirre followed with a solo shot to center to give the Rainbow Wahine the win.

Both Iwata and Aguirre homered twice against the Utes. The duo went deep again to power the Wahine (7-0) to a 10-4 win over Long Beach State in UH’s second game of the afternoon.

In the opener against Utah, UH senior Jenna Rodriguez earned the win in relief of starter Stephanie Ricketts, who gave up five runs on nine hits before being lifted in the fifth inning. Ricketts struck out seven while walking one.

Utah’s Jackie Sweet, the ninth hitter in the order, gave the Utes the lead with a home run to lead off the top of the third, ending Ricketts’ string of scoreless innings at 20. Sweet also doubled to open the fifth inning to ignite a three-run rally that gave the Utes a 5-1 lead.

The Wahine didn’t get a ball out of the infield over the first three innings against Utah starter Naomi Amu. Aguirre got UH on the board with a home run to right field to lead off the bottom of the fourth.

Sweet responded for Utah with a double to lead off the fifth and eventually scored from third on a bunt single by Cheyella Myers. Whitney Holm followed with an RBI single to give the Utes a 4-1 lead. The Utes capped the three-run rally with a sacrifice fly by Hannah Clements.

Utah loaded the bases again in the sixth and Myers delivered an RBI single to left to push the Utes ahead 6-1.

Iwata cut into the lead with a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth. Dara Pagaduan later drove in Sharla Kliebenstein with a two-out RBI double and UH trailed 6-4 going into the seventh.
Utah answered with an RBI single by Kelsi Hoopiiaina in the seventh before UH rallied in the bottom of the inning.

Rodriguez singled off of reliever Generra Nielson and Kelly Majam walked with one out to bring Iwata to the plate. Iwata worked the count full before hammering her second homer in as many at bats. Aguirre then gave UH the win with her second blast of the game.

UH kept the momentum rolling into the next game against Long Beach State. Iwata hit a two-run homer in the first inning and UH jumped out to a 4-0 lead.

Long Beach State rallied with four runs in the bottom of the second to tie the game. Kliebenstein then put UH ahead for good with a solo homer in the top of the third.

The Wahine added five more runs in the top of the fifth, highlighted by Aguirre’s third home run of the day.

UH left-hander Kaia Parnaby struck out seven and picked up a complete-game win.

The tournament continues Saturday with UH facing Oregon and Stanford.

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