comscore Angelique “Cheeks” Ramos turns jitters in high school into steady University of Hawaii career | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Angelique “Cheeks” Ramos turns jitters in high school into steady University of Hawaii career

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                                Angelique “Cheeks” Ramos


    Angelique “Cheeks” Ramos

                                Angelique “Cheeks” Ramos connected on this pitch.


    Angelique “Cheeks” Ramos connected on this pitch.

Angelique “Cheeks” Ramos’ “nerve wracking” half hour on her high school diamond turned into five years as a mainstay in the Hawaii softball team’s lineup.

With the Rainbow Wahine in town to face Long Beach State, Ramos’ coach at nearby Millikan High School had set up a practice session to have UH coach Bob Coolen take a look at the versatile infielder.

“I was so nervous, especially having a one-on-one with the coach, running through hitting, fielding, all of it,” Ramos recalled. “Coach Bob didn’t really say much. He was majority talking to my high school coach and I’m like, ‘Hey, I’m over here.’ ” … It was definitely nerve wracking. But I had a lot of fun doing it.”

Coolen did in fact take notice of Ramos’ skills in the audition (held within NCAA rules, he noted), and before long offered her a spot in the Rainbow Wahine program.

“They put her through a 30-minute workout before we played that afternoon in Long Beach, and she was spent,” Coolen said. “But she went everywhere. She went to third, she went to second, she went to shortstop, she hit. And after 30 minutes, she just had a lot of energy and a lot of spunk, and she wanted to attend the University of Hawaii.”

Ramos made her debut as UH’s opening-night starter at shortstop in 2017 and went on to earn Big West Freshman of the Year honors. She’s provided a steady glove at various spots in the UH infield while providing a power bat in the lineup in the five seasons since and will make her final appearances at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium in this week’s series with UC Davis.

After last season was cut short in March, Ramos pounced on the opportunity to return for another senior season and will be among the seven UH players closing out their college softball careers with this week’s season-ending series against UC Davis at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.

The series opens today with a single game at 6 p.m. and concludes with a doubleheader on Friday starting at 5 p.m.

“It’s been awesome. I appreciate coach Bob and University of Hawaii for allowing me to come back and be able to finish the way I want to finish,” Ramos said. “We just appreciate every pitch and every at bat …and I just tried to play every game and like it’s my last and just enjoy it.”

Ramos’ perspective is indicative of a year the Wahine have dubbed a “season of gratitude” for the opportunity to have a season this spring.

Along with Ramos, UH left fielder Bree Soma, third baseman Merilis “Mama” Rivera, first baseman Laakea Bertulfo, outfielder Samantha Thomas and pitchers Emily Klee and Dominique Martinez will be honored after Friday’s season finale.

The Wahine enter the final series of 2021 at 11-17 overall and 10-11 in Big West play after dropping eight in a row to conference leaders Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton. The Wahine enter the week a game behind UC Davis (17-23, 11-10) for third place and tied with UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara.

Despite the rough late-season stretch, Coolen said the Wahine have maintained a positive outlook entering the final week of the season.

“There’s no frowning, pouting … they sort of just flush it right away and get right back at it,” Coolen said.

“They’re very grateful … that they’re even playing, and we were allowed to travel without knowing what type of budget we had. The administration made it possible. To get in the number of games we have with three games remaining, the seniors are very grateful, especially Cheeks Ramos, because it was so abbreviated last year.”

Ramos was given her nickname as a pudgy baby and has gone by “Cheeks” ever since, particularly in her softball circles. She enters her final series with the Wahine hitting .311 with three home runs and 12 RBIs this season.

She started last season and this season at third base but moved to second for last week’s series at Cal State Fullerton, which provided a full-circle moment with her family able to watch her play in person one last time.

“I think it was about a year and a half since they last got to see me play,” she said. “The pandemic happened and just being able to see the faces that my parents are making, see them in the stands just cheering and rooting for me, it just means the world to me.

“This season, I’m doing it for them and it’s just an awesome feeling.”

Big West Softball

At Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium

>> Who: UC Davis (17-23, 11-10 BWC) vs. Hawaii (11-17, 10-11)

>> When: Today, 6 p.m. Friday (doubleheader), 5 p.m.

>> TV: Spectrum Sports

>> Radio: 1420-AM (today only)

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