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Star-Bulletin Sports


Saturday, May 11, 2002


[WAHINE SOFTBALL]


art
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii baserunner Denise Dahlberg took a lead off first base in a split with Tulsa yesterday afternoon.



Rally gives
Wahine hope

UH scores 4 runs in the seventh
inning to stay in a
second-place tie with Tulsa


By Cindy Luis
cluis@starbulletin.com

The rain never materialized yesterday, but a kind of heat lightning did occur at the Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.

Down to its final three outs and trailing 4-1, Hawaii used a four-run seventh to cap an improbable comeback and salvage a split of its Western Athletic Conference doubleheader with Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane won the first game 7-0, before losing the nightcap 5-4. The Wahine (34-24, 14-8 WAC) and Golden Hurricane (47-15, 14-8) remain tied for second place in the WAC heading into today's final regular-season doubleheader (2 p.m. start).

The Wahine likely need to win both of today's contests to keep their NCAA tournament selection hopes alive. Had they dropped both games last night, "it was basically over," said Hawaii coach Bob Coolen. "We were done."

But the Wahine players didn't want to see the year end like that and "it's never over until the last out," said Stacey Porter, whose sacrifice fly to right scored Kate Judd from third with the winning run. "We never gave up."

What Hawaii got was an unexpected spark from freshman Tracie Uchima, who came into the game in the fifth. She led off the bottom of the seventh with a single and "I thought we could pull it off," said Uchima.

Jennifer Tandarich followed with a walk and Natalie Gonzales, extending her hitting streak to 12, singled to load the bases with no outs. Stacie Hirano drove in Uchima to close it to 4-2. Then a costly fielding error by Tulsa on a throw to get Judd at first allowed Tandarich and Gonzales to score to tie it.

Porter then drilled an outside offering from Ami Day to deep right, allowing Judd to score the winning run.

Coolen had told his team it needed to win at least three games from Tulsa to claim sole possession of second place in the WAC. The Wahine didn't handle the must-win pressure well, falling behind the Golden Hurricane early and by a big margin in both games.

In the opener, Hawaii trailed 2-0 in the first. In the nightcap, it was a 4-0 deficit after one.

Hawaii, a team which had had trouble holding on to large leads in recent games, had to play catch-up all night. It was an unfamiliar position for the Wahine ... but, then, so was losing to the Golden Hurricane.

Hawaii came into the day with an 18-2 series lead against Tulsa, including four consecutive shutouts last season in Oklahoma.

Instead, it was the Golden Hurricane who blanked the Wahine in the opener, the worst shutout of the year. Tulsa then came up with another first of the season against Hawaii in the second game, a three-run inside-the-park home run by Jessie Smith in the top of the first that nearly allowed the visitors to pull off the sweep.

Until Hawaii's late rally, all the scoring in the second game had come in the first inning. After the Golden Hurricane took a 1-0 lead on Crissy Striple's run-scoring double, Smith came up with one out and two on.

She lined a shot to shallow center that got past a diving Sheri Oronoz and rolled to the wall, 200 feet away from home. The throw to the plate was wide, giving Smith her fifth homer of the year.

Hawaii got its first run of the day on an RBI single by Porter. Day held off the Wahine hitters for the next five innings, until things fell apart in the bottom of the seventh.

Tulsa 7, Hawaii 0: The Golden Hurricane hadn't scored a run on the Wahine since April 28, 2000, having been shut out in 28 innings in last season's four games. Tulsa ended that drought early and didn't let up.

The Golden Hurricane pounded out eight hits against Wahine pitchers and took advantage of five Hawaii errors to hand the Wahine only their second shutout in WAC play this season.

It was the second consecutive five-error game for Hawaii, which lost at Oregon last week 5-4.

Tulsa pitcher Jenny Magill (19-7) struck out five to improve her school-record strikeout total to 405. She also scattered six hits, with only Judd and Denise Dahlberg having any success with two hits each.

Tulsa didn't waste any time in taking control of the game. After Heather Hiar led off with a single, Danielle Olsen drilled a 1-1 offering from Shannon Tabion to left to give Tulsa a 2-0 lead.

The Golden Hurricane added a single run in the second on Brandi McGuire's fourth homer of the season, also to left. In the third, Tulsa used a double by Stephanie Sliepen, a wild pitch, a passed ball and two errors to up the lead to 5-0.

Wahine reliever Oronoz quieted Tulsa for the next three innings before giving up two in the seventh. Olsen capped a three-RBI game with a run-scoring single to highlight the inning.

Note: Hawaii will bid aloha to its three seniors after today's second game. Second baseman Natalie Gonzales, left fielder Stacie Hirano and catcher Jennifer Tandarich will take the traditional run around the bases.



UH Athletics



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