The University of Hawaii softball team headed north on Tuesday with a few more conference honors packed up.
After claiming the conference championship in its return season to the Big West, UH earned three of the league’s major awards, and eight players received recognition when the all-conference teams were announced on Tuesday.
Senior Kaia Parnaby was named the Big West Pitcher of the Year and senior center fielder Kelly Majam claimed the Defensive Player of the Year award in a vote of the league’s coaches. Bob Coolen earned the conference’s Coach of the Year honor.
All four classes were represented on the all-conference first team, with Parnaby and Majam joined by senior shortstop Jessica Iwata, junior second baseman Jazmine Zamora, sophomore catcher Kayla Wartner and freshman outfielder Keiki Carlos.
Sophomore first baseman Leisha Li‘ili‘i made the second team and junior utility player Sharla Kliebenstein was an honorable mention pick.
"I hope it gives our players an idea that if they work hard and they go about their business, take care of their academics and come to the field with an open mind, good things will come," Coolen said.
"Each one of those players had moments during the year when they were the impetus for us to win."
Parnaby continued UH’s streak of pitcher of the year awards by posting one of the most prolific seasons in the conference’s history. Stephanie Ricketts was named the Western Athletic Conference’s top pitcher from 2010 to 2012, and Parnaby followed by setting UH and Big West records for wins (37) and strikeouts (325) and leading the Big West with a 1.47 earned-run average.
"Definitely a great honor to have, following in the footsteps of great people and just to be able to keep it a tradition at UH," Parnaby said.
Majam’s production on offense usually attracts attention, and she enters the postseason as the nation’s active leader in career home runs with 72. Her latest accolade recognized her play in center field, where she had one error in 60 chances and threw out five runners this season. She has a total of two errors in her four years at UH.
"It’s kind of neat the Big West does that, that they honor defense," Majam said. "I worked hard in center field and wanted to do my best for the pitchers and for my teammates, and I’m very thankful the other coaches recognized that; it’s very humbling."
Iwata earned first-team all-conference honors for the fourth time in her career, while this year’s selection was the first for Zamora, Wartner and Carlos.
Zamora hit a team-high .359 overall and .422 in Big West play. Wartner hit .373 in conference games, with Carlos just behind at .369. Iwata finished the regular season at .308 overall and .348 in conference.
ON THE AIR
UH’s games in the regional will be broadcast on both TV and radio this weekend. OC Sports (Ch. 16) was awarded the rights to televise the games and KKEA (1420-AM) will carry the games on radio.
Li‘ili‘i led UH with 40 runs batted in and Kliebenstein hit .333 with seven home runs during the Big West season.
Coolen guided the Wahine to the program’s sixth conference title (its second in the Big West) and 11th NCAA tournament appearance. Along the way, he reached his 100th Big West win, 800th at UH and 900th overall.
The team stayed in Stockton, Calif., after closing the regular season at Pacific on Saturday and departed on Tuesday bound for Seattle, where it will open NCAA tournament play on Friday.
The Wahine (43-11) face Minnesota (35-16) in their opening game in the double-elimination regional at 12:30 p.m. Hawaii time. Host Washington (38-15) faces Portland State (25-29) in the other first-round game.
"I guess I can reflect on everything I’ve done this season after we’re finished," Parnaby said. "We just have to keep concentrating of what’s ahead this weekend."
UH practiced at Pacific on Tuesday and has a workout scheduled at Seattle University today. The Wahine practice at Washington’s Husky Softball Stadium on Thursday.