A walk-off home run by Kamehameha graduate Hoku Nohara gave New Mexico State a 5-4 win over Hawaii and sent the Rainbow Wahine into the loser’s bracket of the Western Athletic Conference softball tournament today in Fresno, Calif.
Hawaii (37-17) will next face host Fresno State in an elimination game today at 1:30 p.m. Hawaii time.
Nohara, the nation’s home run leader, hit a two-run shot to left in the bottom of the seventh to give the Aggies their only lead of the game and push top-seeded NMSU into Friday’s 11 a.m. winner’s bracket game.
The Wahine took a 4-1 lead into the sixth inning against New Mexico State, but the Aggies rallied for two in the sixth and won it on Nohara’s home run off of UH reliever Jenna Rodriguez in the seventh.
The Wahine put together a two-out rally in the top of the third inning to take the lead. After NMSU turned a double play, UH second baseman Dara Pagaduan reached on an error and Kelly Majam singled to right. Jasey Jensen then drilled a single to center to score Pagaduan from second.
NMSU tied the game in the bottom of the fourth on a home run to right center by Valerie Swedberg. Majam got her glove on the ball but it came out when she hit the fence and went over.
After a single and a walk, Coolen summoned Rodriguez to relieve starter Stephanie Ricketts. Rodriguez hit a batter to load the bases, then got a flyout to shallow center and another to left to preserve the tie.
The Wahine promptly reclaimed the lead with three runs in the fifth.
Pagaduan reached on an infield single and an error on Majam’s grounder put runners of first and third. One out later, Jessica Iwata gave UH the lead with a two-run single to center. Melissa Gonzalez scored Iwata with a two-out single to left to give UH a 4-1 lead and chase NMSU starter Alex Newman.
NMSU closed to within a run in the sixth with a two-out two-run double by Kylie Randall, who advanced to third on the throw to the plate. Rodriguez again got a flyout to end the inning.
But Rodriguez walked Tiare Jennings to open seventh and Nohara followed with her 22nd home run of the season.