After Bob Coolen signaled for a reliever to start warming up, Stephanie Ricketts made sure the bullpen door stayed shut.
The Hawaii right-hander battled through a few shaky spots to deliver her second complete-game win of the day in a 5-1 victory over Weber State last night in the finale of the Bank of Hawaii Invitational at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.
"Her whole demeanor changed," Coolen said. "That is the competitiveness in Steph. She does not want to be taken out. Steph does not want to show any weakness. That’s been her M.O. since her freshman year."
Earlier in the afternoon, Ricketts went the distance in Hawaii’s 8-0 five-inning rout of St. Bonaventure. She then finished out her third win of the tournament and the No. 14/16 Wahine (16-4) completed a perfect weekend while securing the tournament title with the win over the Wildcats (2-5).
Ricketts struck out three while holding St. Bonaventure to three hits. She had eight strikeouts against one walk vs. Weber State and was named the tournament’s MVP.
The UH offense got power production from familiar sources, as Jenna Rodriguez and Jessica Iwata homered in the doubleheader. The final blow came from a less expected member of the lineup when second baseman Dara Pagaduan went deep in the sixth inning to punctuate the win over Weber State.
"I was pretty much just trying not to think about anything and just make like it’s batting practice," said Pagaduan, part of a seasonlong battle for playing time at second base. "It’s a big thing to build my confidence."
A day after Kaia Parnaby threw a perfect game against Weber State, the Wildcats capitalized on a UH error to score the game’s first run in the top of the first inning.
In the top of the fourth, Ricketts gave up a leadoff single and threw a wild pitch to move the runner to second. That’s when Coolen emerged from the dugout and summoned Rodriguez to come in from right field to start warming up in the pen.
Ricketts got a pop-up and a strikeout to end the inning and allowed only three more baserunners the rest of the way.
"I totally understand why he did that," Ricketts said. "I forgot to use my legs on one of my pitches and he saw it, too. He put a chip on my shoulder. He’s a smart guy. … You find a second gear when you realize you were slacking maybe."
Parnaby is scheduled to have an MRI on her tender elbow today, and Coolen said the plan coming into the day was to throw Ricketts in both games. She got through the St. Bonaventure game on just 62 pitches and threw 105 against Weber State.
"Steph hung in there because they were putting pressure on her," Coolen said.
Trailing 1-0, the Wahine responded with four runs in the bottom of the fourth, with Iwata’s two-run homer to left giving UH the lead for good.
In the St. Bonaventure game, Coolen shuffled the lineup by moving Alex Aguirre into the leadoff spot and shifting Kelly Majam to fifth in the order. It was the first time in 84 career games Majam didn’t bat first in the lineup.
UH broke out for 12 hits, highlighted by Rodriguez’s two-run homer to left in the fourth inning, but Coolen said that lineup "didn’t feel right" and put Majam back at the top for the second game.
Sophomore Tara Anguiano, who entered the game with two career at-bats and none this season, also made her first start as the designated player and went 2-for-3 against the Bonnies (0-4).
Joining Ricketts on the all-tournament team were Gonzalez, Rodriguez, catcher Sharla Kliebenstein and first baseman Sarah Robinson. Parnaby was named the most outstanding pitcher.
The Wahine next host the Pepsi Malihini Kipa Aloha Tournament starting Thursday.
"We all know we have stuff to work on still, but its nice to get some wins and just figure it out," Ricketts said, "so in the WAC we have things solidified."
HAWAII 8, ST. BONAVENTURE 0
At Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium
Note: 1 out, 1 runner LOB when the game ended.
HAWAII 5, WEBER STATE 1
At Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium
Britinie Hardine, Kelsie Vallies (1), Sarah Clark (4) and Brandi Christopher. Stephanie Ricketts and Sharla Kliebenstein. W–Ricketts (8-3). L–Vallies.