The stats won’t count, but the experience will certainly come in handy down the road.
In her first start in more than a year, Hawaii senior Jenna Rodriguez threw a three-hitter to lead the Rainbow Wahine softball team to a 1-0 win over the Tokyo Women’s College of Physical Education in an exhibition game last night.
Rodriguez struck out eight in the opening game of the Pepsi Malihini Kipa Aloha Tournament in her longest outing since starting a fall exhibition against Chaminade in 2009.
"I always liked pitching, I really enjoy it, so I was excited to get the start," said Rodriguez, who’s spent most of this season playing right field. "That’s what’s exciting. I got the start to prove myself and what I can do."
Rodriguez was a standout pitcher at Yavapai (Ariz.) College before joining the Wahine last season, helping lead the Roughriders to a national championship her sophomore year.
She pitched just five innings last season while establishing herself as UH’s designated player and had thrown four innings in two relief appearances this season.
Rodriguez got defensive support last night from a lineup comprised primarily of the Wahine reserves in the shutout at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.
"Jenna did a great job and the defense we had out there, they were confident in themselves," UH coach Bob Coolen said. "It’s good for us to have an exhibition game right now because it gives some of the players who haven’t played an opportunity to show where they’re at."
After giving up a leadoff walk, Rodriguez retired 13 of the next 14 hitters. The lone blemish in that stretch, a single by Miki Yamada in the second, was erased by a double play on a popped up bunt.
UH scored the game’s lone run when Tara Anguiano walked to lead off the inning, advanced on a bunt and ground out and came in on catcher Jocelyn Enrique’s single to right.
That would be the last run of the game as Rodriguez and TWCPE starter Kasumi Hirahara shut the offenses down the rest of the way.
"She hit every corner she needed to hit, and she was smart," Coolen said of Hirahara.
The Wahine (16-4) continue tournament play today against Longwood at 6 p.m. TWCPE will play exhibitions with South Dakota State and Miami (Ohio) earlier in the day. South Dakota State and Miami (Ohio) meet at 4 p.m.
Hawaii 1, TWCPE 0
At Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium
Kasumi Hirahara and Aya Yamaho. Jenna Rodriguez and Jocelyn Enrique. W–Rodriguez. L–Hirahara.
Leading hitters–Hawaii: Enrique, 2-3, RBI.