Even though her elbow hasn’t felt quite right all season, Kaia Parnaby enjoyed a perfect return to Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium last night.
With her pitches dancing around the Weber State bats, the Hawaii left-hander tossed the first perfect game of her UH career in a 6-0 win over the Wildcats in the Bank of Hawaii Invitational.
Parnaby threw 82 pitches in retiring all 21 hitters she faced and struck out a career-high 12 batters for the Wahine (14-4) in their first home game since Feb. 12.
Parnaby (5-1) said throwing a perfect game didn’t enter her mind and even when right fielder Jenna Rodriguez chased down a fly ball in foul territory for the game’s final out, she still wasn’t exactly sure what she’d accomplished.
That is until she came in "and everyone was cheering."
"I didn’t really think of it because I hadn’t been paying attention to it," she said. "I knew it would be close to a one-hitter or a two-hitter."
Parnaby’s perfect game capped a sweep for the Wahine on the opening day of the tournament. UH right-hander Stephanie Ricketts struck out 11 in a 6-0 win over South Dakota State prior to the victory over Weber State.
UH’s last perfect game came last season when Ricketts threw a five-inning gem at Nevada. The last time a Rainbow Wahine pitcher threw seven perfect innings was back on May 5, 2006, when Justine Smethurst, Parnaby’s teammate on the Australian national team, pulled off the feat against Utah State.
"My curveball and my screwball were working a lot," Parnaby said. "They were moving more than usual, and my dropball complemented all of them."
"She was mixing speeds without even trying to," UH head coach Bob Coolen said. "She would let up sometimes and they would drop more, they’d move more and then when she needed to bring it, she brought it. And (catcher) Sharla (Kliebenstein) was on her wavelength in regards to what she wanted to throw."
Parnaby dominated the Wildcats despite an elbow that has bothered her for most of the season and limited her availability during UH’s 11-game road trip the previous two weekends.
In one of the game’s more dramatic moments, she fielded Kami Johnson’s grounder and threw a one-hopper to first in the top of the seventh that Robinson corralled for the first out.
She then struck out Erika James and got Brooke Silva to fly out to Rodriguez to end the game.
"I don’t really focus on that kind of stuff, I just keep playing the game," Rodriguez said of the perfect game. "But when they announced it after the game I was really happy I caught that ball."
Kliebenstein and Sarah Robinson provided most of Parnaby’s run support. Robinson went 3-for-3 and drove in three runs and Kliebenstein had two RBIs.
In all, Robinson finished with five RBIs for the day. Her two-run single highlighted UH’s six-run rally in the fifth inning in the win over South Dakota State.
That would be more than enough for Ricketts, who held the Jackrabbits to three hits and walked one in a complete-game victory.
HAWAII 6, S. DAKOTA STATE 0
At Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium
|S. Dakota St. (9-4)||000||000||0||—||0||3||0|
Kori Seidlitz, Pam Nicholson (5) and Sammy Bingham. Stephanie Ricketts and Sharla Kliebenstein. W–Ricketts (8-3) . L–Seidlitz (0-5).
Leading hitters—SDSU: Morgan McCabe 1-2. UH: Alex Aguirre 1-1, RBI; Sharla Kliebenstein run, RBI; Sarah Robinson 1-2, run, 2 RBIs.
HAWAII 6, WEBER STATE 0
At Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium
|Weber State (1-4)||000||000||0||—||0||0||1|
Kaia Parnaby and Sharla Kliebenstein. Sarah Clark and Brandi Christopher. W–Parnaby (5-1) . L–Clark (0-2).
Leading hitters—WSU: none. UH: Alex Aguirre 2-2 2 runs; Melissa Gonzalez 2-3, Sharla Kliebenstein 1-2, 2 runs, 2 RBIs; Sarah Robinson 3-3, 3 RBIs.
Yesterday’s early games
South Dakota State 1, St. Bonaventure 0
Weber State 7, St. Bonaventure 2
Weber State vs. S.D. State, 10 a.m.
Hawaii vs. St. Bonaventure, noon
Seed 3 vs. Seed 4, 2 p.m.
Seed 1 vs. Seed 2, 4 p.m.