Sunday, May 12, 2002
Just as they had for all four years -- a combined 535 games -- the three seniors on the Hawaii softball team found a way to contribute during yesterday's final regular-season doubleheader.
Hawaiis 3 seniors pitch
in 1 more time
By Cindy Luis
Second baseman Natalie Gonzales (Stockton, Calif.) ran her team-best hitting streak to 16. She accounted for two of the Wahine's four hits in a 4-2 loss to Tulsa in yesterday's first game -- her 12th multi-hit game of the season -- and hit her 10th double of the year, 15th of her career, in the 3-0 victory in the second game.
Catcher Jennifer Tandarich (San Diego) was behind the plate for both ends of the twinbill. She scored a run in the opener and drove in a run with her second double of the year, career No. 11, in the nightcap.
Stacie Hirano (Hilo) camped out in left field, driving in a run in the opener. She didn't get much action in left in the second, not with Sheri Oronoz pitching so well, but the three-time WAC All-Academic and District VII academic All-American was there if she was needed.
Their teammates had tears in their eyes as they watched the three, one by one, take the traditional final trot around the bases. The three seniors will be missed.
"What we'll miss with J.T. (Tandarich) gone is her leadership, on and off the field," said sophomore first baseman Stacey Porter. "She tells you what you need to be doing, and when and why."
"Nat ... we'll miss her character," added junior shortstop Kate Judd. "And Stacie is such an awesome player. She'll really be missed in the outfield.
"They're three very different people and they've all added different things to the team. To lose them all at once is going to be hard. To see how our other players step up to fill their spots will be interesting to see."
Gonzales and Hirano, both preseason all-WAC picks, are waiting to see if they've made the regular-season ballot as well.
All three will find out this afternoon if their collegiate careers are over.
"I hope not," said Tandarich. "But, if it's over, I have no regrets about coming here. It's been an awesome experience."
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