Rainbow Wahine head into WAC on a winning note
The schedule allows the Hawaii softball team one day to savor its latest tournament title and a rousing nonconference season.
Tomorrow, it's back to business.
After knocking off No. 14 Baylor in yesterday's Hawaii Invitational Tournament championship game, the 23rd-ranked Rainbow Wahine open the Western Athletic Conference season with a three-game series with defending league champion Nevada starting tomorrow.
"We had a great preseason and it's definitely getting us ready for the WAC," said senior first baseman Tyleen Tausaga. "Especially beating Baylor, this is huge momentum for us going into Monday. Our confidence is way up right now."
Tomorrow's single game and Tuesday's doubleheader both start at 6 p.m. at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.
UH closes its homestand with a series against Louisiana Tech on Friday and Saturday. UH has just one more series at RWSS after that, a three-game set with Fresno State on April 20-21.
The Wahine enter the conference schedule at 27-7 after beating Nevada 8-3 yesterday morning to advance to the tournament final and capturing the title with a 2-1 win over Baylor.
With the win over the Lady Bears, the Wahine improved to 6-4 against teams ranked in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association poll. UH beat No. 25 California earlier in the tournament.
"We have a lot of big wins and we know what were capable of doing and hopefully we'll bring that into the WAC," said pitcher/designated hitter Kate Robinson, who is 7-0 in the circle and tied for the team lead with nine home runs.
"It gave us a lot of confidence -- now we know we can beat the big teams and take our game to everybody."
Hawaii's theme of "unfinished business" is a reference to its meeting with Nevada at last year's WAC tournament in Fresno.
Nevada ended Hawaii's season by taking the final two games of a one-day, best-of-three final series to deny the Wahine a berth in the NCAA Regionals.
The Wahine and Wolf Pack played two nonconference games in last week's tournament, with UH winning both games, 16-0 on Friday and again yesterday.
"They hit the ball and we were fortunate that we played very well against them," UH coach Bob Coolen said. "We're going to see (Nevada ace Jordan McPherson). She beat us last year to send us home. They went on, we didn't, and this year the kids want it. They don't want to be left at home."
Hawaii has already eclipsed the program's single-season home-run record, pushing its total to 47 with two more blasts against Nevada yesterday by Tausaga and Alana Power.
"Everybody takes the pressure off each other," said Tausaga, who is hitting .387 with nine homers.
"Everybody's just depending on each other and every game it's somebody different that's the hero.
"(The home-run record) just kind of happened. We're not going for the fence, but if it's going over, that's fine."
UH ace Justine Smethurst struck out nine in the win over Nevada yesterday to improve to 11-5. Robinson, the tournament MVP, earned the win against Baylor with a complete-game performance.
Hawaii jumped ahead with two runs in the bottom of the first inning against the Bears. Richie-Anne Titcomb led off with an infield single and scored on Clare Warwick's double to the right-center gap. Warwick later came around on a single by Tausaga.
Baylor scored an unearned run in the second inning, but Robinson limited the Lady Bears to three hits the rest of the way and retired the last six batters in order to give UH the title.