Hawaii pitcher Stephanie Ricketts entered last night’s meeting with Nevada with a mixed history against the Wolf Pack.
Still in her memory was a heartbreaking loss in the Western Athletic Conference tournament to end her freshman year. Last season, she fired a perfect game in Reno.
She added to the positive in UH’s 3-1 series opening win at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.
Ricketts held the Pack to three hits, struck out eight and walked none in an efficient performance to improve to 16-9. After giving up a single in the first inning, she retired 14 consecutive batters before Nevada scored its lone run in the sixth inning. She didn’t go to a three-ball count until the seventh.
“This whole week we worked super hard mentally and really focused on ourselves,” Ricketts said after ending the game in a quick 82 minutes. “And even though we won tonight we’re not just happy getting a win. There’s things we can work on.”
UH rebounded from last week’s sweep at Fresno State to improve to 26-12 overall and 4-3 in WAC play.
After being shut out twice in road losses, the UH offense gave Ricketts a lead to work with when Sarah Robinson, hitting in the designated player spot, launched a two-run homer in the bottom of the second. Kelly Majam went 2-for-3 with a double and scored an insurance run on a double steal in the fifth inning.
“It felt really good. I just wanted to see the ball and hit the ball hard,” Robinson said. “I wasn’t going for the fence. I just wanted to hit it good and she gave me an inside pitch.”
Robinson had spent most of the season as the starter at first base. After sitting out the final two games of last week’s series, she returned to the starting lineup as the designated player and delivered her second home run of the season and her first extra-base hit in nine games.
“I had this week to think about (the position change) and just set goals to help out my team offensively,” Robinson said.
Ricketts breezed through the Nevada lineup until Jayme King led off the sixth with a double. One out later, Karley Hopkins drilled an RBI single to center for the Pack’s lone run of the game. Ricketts, who threw 97 pitches, then protected the lead by retiring the next five batters in order.
Nevada’s Mallary Darby (10-16) also threw a complete game, finishing with six strikeouts and two walks.
The series concludes today with a doubleheader starting at 4 p.m.
“We played better and we can play better,” UH coach Bob Coolen said.
Hawaii 3, Nevada 1
At Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium
|Nevada (10-22, 1-5)||000||001||0||—||1||3||0|
|Hawaii (25-12, 3-3)||020||010||x||—||3||6||0|
Mallary Darby and Chelsea Venable. Stephanie Ricketts and Sharla Kliebenstein. W—Ricketts. L—Darby.
Leading hitters—Nevada: Jayme King, 2b. Hawaii: Kelly Majam, 2-3, 2b; Jessica Iwata, 2-3; Sarah Robinson, HR, 2 RBIs.