The Hawaii softball team’s limited practice time this week had head coach Bob Coolen a bit concerned going into yesterday’s series opener at San Jose State.
The Rainbow Wahine didn’t wait long to ease his anxiety.
The Wahine jumped on SJSU pitching early in an 8-0 Western Athletic Conference win over the Spartans at SJSU Softball Field.
UH pitcher Stephanie Ricketts held the Spartans to two hits in her ninth shutout of the season in her return to her hometown. Shortstop Jessica Iwata hit a three-run homer in the second inning and Jasey Jensen added a bases-loaded triple in the third and the Wahine (34-16, 12-7 WAC) matched their highest run total of the WAC season.
"Stephanie was on top of her game and we put it all together," Coolen said.
"I was a little nervous, but they came out fresh."
Between the wet weather earlier this week and the state tournament occupying Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium, the team didn’t get much field time prior to its departure on Thursday. They took batting practice after arriving in San Jose and got rolling early in yesterday’s game.
"We got a feel for their field (on Thursday) and Coach threw batting practice to us, so it wasn’t too bad," Iwata said.
UH scored two runs in the top of the first on an RBI single by Melissa Gonzalez and a bases-loaded walk by Alex Aguirre.
Iwata continued her recent hot streak by hitting her team-leading 13th home run of the season in the third inning, a three-run shot giving UH a 5-0 lead. Iwata is 8-for-13 with nine RBIs in UH’s last four games.
"It was basically my favorite pitch," Iwata said of the homer. "It was inside high and I turned on it and hit it well. It was my second at-bat and had seen her and got my timing down and just wanted to hit the ball hard."
The Wahine brought the mercy rule into play in the third on Jensen’s second triple of her senior year.
Ricketts kept the Spartans off the scoreboard to make it a short day for the Wahine. She faced 19 hitters, struck out five and walked one.
The Wahine and Spartans close the regular season with a doubleheader today. The Spartans (19-33, 5-14) dropped half a game behind Louisiana Tech for the sixth and final spot in the WAC tournament with yesterday’s loss.
"We just want to have momentum going into the WAC tournament," Iwata said. "We’ve been working hard for it, so hopefully we can keep this going."
Academic honor for Majam
UH sophomore Kelly Majam was named to the Capital One CoSIDA Academic All-District 8 first team yesterday, the ninth UH player to make the team.
Majam is majoring in secondary education in physical education and earned NFCA scholar-athlete honors and was an Academic All-WAC pick last season. She is now eligible for the CoSIDA Academic All-America team.
Nominees for the all-district team must be a starter or significant reserve with a grade-point average of 3.30 or higher.
Hawaii 8, San Jose State 0 (5 innings)
Fresno State 7, Nevada 3
New Mexico State 11, Boise State 10 (8 innings)
Louisiana Tech 7, Utah State 1 (1st)
Louisiana Tech 13, Utah State 6 (2nd)
Hawaii at San Jose State (2), 9 a.m. HST
Louisiana Tech at Utah State
Nevada at Fresno State (2)
Boise State at New Mexico State (2)
Utah Valley at Utah State (2)
END REGULAR SEASON
Hawaii 8, San Jose State 0
At San Jose State field
|UH (34-16, 12-7)||233||00||—||8||8||2|
|SJSU (19-33, 5-14)||000||00||—||0||2||0|
Stephanie Ricketts and Sharla Kliebenstein. Elyssa Fox and Amanda Schatz. W—Ricketts (20-11). L—Fox (5-14).
Leading hitters—UH: Melissa Gonzalez 2-3, 2B, RBI; Jasey Jensen 3B, run, 3 RBIs; Jessica Iwata, HR, 2 runs, 3 RBIs. SJSU: Britney Helm 2B.