After two quick outs in the top of the first inning, California broke loose for eight runs and the 19th-ranked Golden Bears pulled away from the University of Hawaii softball team in a 12-4 win in five innings in the opening game of the Pepsi Malihini Kipa Aloha Tournament on Thursday.
The Bears peppered UH pitching for 12 singles, seven in the top of the first, and improved to 14-1. Katie Sutherland-Finch struck out six and walked three over 4 1/3 innings to earn the win.
Three home runs, two by senior catcher Kayla Wartner and another off the bat of Heather Morales, accounted for all of UH’s scoring and the Rainbow Wahine and fell to 9-8.
UH starter Kanani Aina Cabrales (4-5) needed just four pitches to get the first two outs of the game, both on grounders back to the circle. But after a walk, Cheyenne Cordes grounded to third and the throw glanced off the glove of first baseman Leisha Li’ili’i as she stretched for the ball to extend the inning. Danielle Henderson then drilled a single into right center to score Britt Vonk with Cal’s first run.
A walk loaded the bases and Kobie Pettis looped a single just behind third base to drive in two runs. Alleah Laxamana was hit by a pitch to reload the bases and the Bears strung together four consecutive singles, the last two coming off of UH reliever Brittany Hitchcock. Two more runs came around when Vonk beat out an infield single to cap the eight-run outburst.
When UH finally took its turn at bat, UH leadoff hitter Lindsey Willmon was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the first and Wartner lifted a high fly to right that snuck over the fence her her fifth home run of the season.
UH left the bases loaded in the first and stranded two more runners in the second before Heather Morales led off the bottom of the third with her first career home run, a line drive to left-center, to cut Cal’s lead to 8-3.
After Cal added a run in the top of the fourth Wartner went deep again with her 30th career home run in the bottom of the inning.
But Cal put the game away in the fifth with the aid of two UH errors. With runners on first and second, Hitchcock fielded a grounder but her throw to third was wild and both runners scored. With two out, Henderson grounded back to Hitchcock again and the throw was in the dirt and Vonk scored Cal’s 12th run.
The tournament continues with three games on Friday. UH faces San Jose State (12-3) at 6 p.m.