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UH beats UC Riverside in Big West softball opener

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Hawaii bolted to an early lead and opened the Big West softball season with a 7-3 road win over UC Riverside on Friday.

Jazmine Zamora ignited the UH offense with a home run in the top of the first inning, Kayla Wartner added a solo shot in the fifth and Loie Kesterson earned a complete-game victory over the Highlanders.

The series continues Saturday with a doubleheader starting at 9 a.m. Hawaii time.

Zamora gave the Rainbow Wahine (16-14) the lead with her second homer of the season with one out in the top of the first. UH then drew four consecutive walks with Sharla Kliebenstein forcing in Keiki Carlos with UH’s second run. Sarina Jaramillo followed with a sacrifice fly and UH led 3-0 after a half inning.

UCR cut into the lead on Taylor Wright’s RBI double with two out in the bottom of the second, but UH answered with two more runs in the top of the fourth to take a 5-1 lead. Kliebenstein led off with a double, advanced on a throwing error on Jaramillo’s fielder’s choice grounder and scored when Ulu Matagiese singled to left. Jaramillo later scored on Lindsey Willmon’s sacrifice fly.

Wartner delivered a solo homer with two out in the top of the fifth, her second home run of the road trip and third of the season.

UCR scored single runs in the bottom of the fifth and sixth to close to 6-3, but UH pulled away again in the top of the seventh with Leisha Li’ili’i’s RBI single.

Kesterson retired UCR in order in the bottom of the inning and improved to 9-5. She gave up eight hits, struck out two and walked one.

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