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Kesterson, Wahine finish off sweep

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    UH pitcher Kaia Parnaby earned her 25th victory of the season on Saturday when the Rainbow Wahine beat UC Davis 2-1.

Kaia Parnaby’s complete-game performances have become a staple for the University of Hawaii softball team this season.

For Loie Kesterson, Saturday’s victory represented a new experience.

Parnaby went the distance for the 26th time and earned her 25th victory in UH’s 2-1 win in the first game of a Big West doubleheader with UC Davis.

She then found a comfortable spot in the dugout to watch Kesterson earn her first collegiate victory as the Rainbow Wahine completed the series sweep with a 6-2 win.

UH’s Kelly Majam and Leisha Li‘ili‘i homered in the first inning of the series finale and Kesterson held UC Davis to five hits over her seven innings in the circle as No. 18/22 UH (28-7, 6-0 Big West) extended its winning streak to eight.

"I worked hard, my defense behind me helped a lot and the run support, four runs in the first inning, what more can you ask for," Kesterson said.

A midday downpour in Manoa delayed the start of the doubleheader by three hours. The skies cleared and Parnaby, who earned a complete-game win in 10 innings on Friday, struck out six and held UC Davis to four hits while raising her record to 25-3.

"It was kind of annoying to sit around and wait it out, but it gave us time to prepare and reflect from last night a little bit more on what they hit and didn’t hit," Parnaby said.

UH catcher Kayla Wartner accounted for both UH runs in Saturday’s opener, scoring the first when Jessica Iwata’s fly ball into shallow right fell in safely in the bottom of the first.

After UC Davis tied the game in the second, Wartner gave UH the lead for good by drilling a single to right field to score Brynne Buchanan in the fifth inning.

"I had just challenged Kayla and Jessica about hitting the ball and Kayla comes and smashes the second RBI and Kaia held them," UH coach Bob Coolen said. "That was huge."

Kesterson, who hadn’t thrown more than 51⁄3 innings in her previous five appearances, made her first start of the Big West season. She was given a 4-0 lead thanks to a UH power surge in the first inning, starting with Majam’s leadoff homer to center.

"The whole team needed to come out with more confidence in the second game and I thought we did and I think it was really important to show that we backed up Loie," Majam said.

Li‘ili‘i was 0-for-6 with four strikeouts in the first two games of the series. She seemed to unleash the frustration on her first at-bat of the finale, launching a three-run homer to right-center that landed on the roof of the batting cages.

UC Davis cut into the lead on Krista Bava’s two-run single with two out in the top of the second. Kesterson threw 20 pitches in the second inning, then stayed in single digits over the next three while maintaining the two-run edge until Majam’s RBI double in the fourth inning extended the lead to 5-2. Li‘ili‘i pushed the lead to 6-2 with a double to score Iwata in the sixth.

Kesterson got 17 ground-ball outs while striking out one in her first appearance in two weeks.

"I just tried to get ahead and mix it in and they hit a lot of ground-ball outs," Kesterson said.

At Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium

UC Davis (13-16, 0-2) 010 000 0 1 4 1
Hawaii (27-7, 5-0) 100 010 x 2 9 1

Leah Munden and Kelly Schulze. Kaia Parnaby and Kayla Wartner. W—Parnaby. L—Munden.

Leading hitters—UC Davis: Christa Castello, RBI. Hawaii: Kayla Wartner, 2-3, RBI; Jessica Iwata, 2B, RBI; Jazmine Zamora, 2-3.

UC Davis (13-17, 0-3) 020 000 0 2 5 0
Hawaii (28-7, 6-0) 400 101 x 6 9 1

Justine Vela, Leah Munden (4) and Kelly Schulze. Loie Kesterson and Sharla Kliebenstein. W—Kesterson. L—Vela.

Leading hitters—UC Davis: Kayla Tyler, 2B; Amy Nunez, 2B; Krista Bava, 2 RBIs. Hawaii: Kelly Majam, 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 RBIs; Keiki Carlos, 2-4; Leisha Li‘ili‘i, 2B, HR, 4 RBIs.

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