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UH softball season ends with loss to North Dakota State

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The University of Hawaii softball team’s season ended today with a 9-7 loss to North Dakota State in an elimination game in the NCAA regional in Tucson, Ariz.

UH closed the year at 44-9, losing its last four games of the season.

UH freshman Kayla Wartner hit two two-run homers in the see-saw game, but North Dakota State (38-21) came out on top to advance to face Notre Dame in another elimination game later today. The winner of that game will face host Arizona on Sunday in the regional final.

UH junior Kaia Parnaby gave up five runs on seven hits in 2 2/3 innings before senior Stephanie Ricketts was called in from the bullpen. Ricketts, who threw 8 1/3 innings in Friday’s loss to Notre Dame, surrendered four runs, two on solo homers, and took the loss. Three UH errors contributed to four unearned runs.

NDSU freshman Krista Menke gave up three homers but earned a complete-game win.

After UH took a 1-0 lead on an RBI double by Makani Duhaylonsod-Kaleimamahu in the second inning, NDSU scored the tying run on a controversial play in the bottom of the inning that led to UH head coach Bob Coolen being ejected from the game.

With runners on first and second and two out, Jenina Ortega hit a grounder to  Pagaduan at second base. NDSU’s Brandi Enriquez collided with Pagaduan as she was fielding the ball, knocking the ball loose. Enriquez was eventually tagged out at second but not before Alex Sobrero scored.

Coolen was ejected while arguing for an interference call, putting associate coach Dee Wisneski in charge of the team.

The Wahine promptly reclaimed the lead when Wartner hit a two-run homer to center field and Sarah Robinson followed with a homer to left to give the Wahine a 4-1 lead.

NDSU responded in the bottom of the third when Brea Konz bounced a two-out, two-run single into left field to cut the UH lead to 4-3. UH appeared to get out of the inning with a flyout, but an illegal pitch called against Parnaby extended Amanda Grable’s at-bat and she doubled to center to score Konz with the tying run. Sobrero singled into center and Grable was ruled safe trying to score due to Wartner being called for blocking the plate to give the Bison the lead.

The slugfest continued in the fourth when UH see-sawed back in front on a two-run homer by Wartner and Ortega answered with a solo shot to lead off the bottom of the inning for a 6-6 tie.

UH junior Jocelyn Enrique lined a pinch-hit RBI single with two out in the fifth and NDSU came back with two runs on an error and a fielder’s choice to take an 8-7 lead.

Taylor Mortensen homered in the sixth to give the Bison a two-run cushion going into the seventh.

Kaile Nakao, who replaced the injured Pagaduan, was hit to begin the seventh. Duahylonsod-Kaleimamahu’s grounder hit Nakao for the first out and Sharla Kliebenstein followed with a pinch-hit single to put the tying runs on base. But Kelly Majam grounded out and Wartner popped up to end the game and the season.

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