There isn’t much time for savoring the moment in the Hawaii softball team’s nonconference schedule.
After winning a weekend tournament and pulling out a dramatic victory on Monday, yesterday represented the lone break in the Hawaii’s run of 13 games over 10 days.
Chevron Spring Fling
» Where: Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium
» TV: UH games today-Friday on KFVE
» Radio: UH games on KHKA, 1500-AM
The last portion of the grueling stretch also figures to be one of the toughest as the Rainbow Wahine (21-5) host the Chevron Spring Fling Tournament, starting today.
The tournament also marks their last chance to work out the kinks before entering the Western Athletic Conference season next week.
"We can’t let up right now because our bodies are tired, our minds are tired and we’re coming off a big stretch of a lot of games," UH coach Bob Coolen said. "We just need to punch through it and just enjoy playing rather than putting pressure on ourselves. We have to got out and start free swinging and let our pitchers do what they’re capable of doing."
Of the five teams entered in the Spring Fling, four went to the postseason last season. Hawaii, Cal and BYU all reached the Super Regionals, with the Wahine advancing to the Women’s College World Series. Iona earned a regional berth by winning the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. A loss in the Horizon League championship game denied Cleveland State — Hawaii’s opponent tonight — a postseason berth despite a 44-15 mark.
» Today: Iona vs. BYU, noon; Iona vs. California, 2 p.m.; BYU vs. Cleveland State, 4 p.m.; Hawaii vs. Cleveland State, 6 p.m.
» Tomorrow: California vs. Cleveland State, 1 p.m.; California vs. BYU, 3 p.m.; Hawaii vs. BYU, 5 p.m.; Hawaii vs. Iona, 7 p.m.
» Friday: Cleveland State vs. Iona, 3 p.m.; Hawaii vs. California, 5 p.m.; No. 4 seed vs. No. 5 seed, 7 p.m.
» Saturday: No. 4/No. 5 winner vs. No. 1 seed, noon; No. 2 seed vs. No. 3 seed, 2 p.m.; Championship, 4 p.m.
California (16-2) returns to the Spring Fling for the third straight year. The Bears are ranked ninth in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll and 10th in the USA Today/NFCA poll. Hawaii is 16th in the NFCA poll and 20th in the USA Softball poll.
The Wahine dropped their first home game of the season against Longwood last Friday then came back to win five straight to secure the Pepsi Malihini Kipa Aloha Tournament title and a rematch with Longwood on Monday.
"It’s definitely getting us back on a roll," said UH first baseman Sarah Robinson, whose seventh-inning triple set up the winning run in Monday’s 3-2 victory. "This past tournament our bats started coming around and I think that’s just going to carry over into the next tournament."
Coolen tinkered with the lineup last weekend, moving center fielder Kelly Majam from the leadoff spot to seventh in the order on Sunday and fifth on Monday. Majam, who continues to deal with the effects of offseason cancer treatment that included removing her thyroid, spent a game in the designated player spot and said a bit of rest helped her break out of a slump with a home run on Sunday. Shortstop Jessica Iwata hit .417 in last week’s tournament and has scored five runs in four games at the top of the lineup.
UH pitchers Stephanie Ricketts (12-4) and Kaia Parnaby (8-1) allowed six runs over the last six games, lowering the team’s earned-run average to a WAC-best 1.57. Ricketts leads the league with 120 strikeouts in 108 innings.
California, one of five Pac-teams ranked in the top 10, is off to a 16-2 start despite an injury to NFCA first-team All-American Valerie Arioto, who was 21-9 as a pitcher last season and also slugged 19 home runs and drove in 61 runs. Jolene Henderson (15-2) has flourished in the role of staff ace and enters the tournament atop the Pac-10 with a 0.80 ERA and 116 strikeouts.
BYU (10-13) was ranked to start the season but dropped out during a stretch of nine losses in 11 games. The Cougars arrive in town with some momentum after closing the Long Beach Invitational with wins over Long Beach State and defending national champion UCLA. Campbell graduate Katie Manuma hit a home run, the second of her freshman year, in the win over UCLA and is hitting .241.
Iona (5-5) is in the early stages of its season while Cleveland State (9-5) has won seven of its past nine.