COURTESY OF UH ATHLETICS
One of the greatest hitters in the history of the UH softball program, Tyleen Tausaga is playing with a torn meniscus.
Tausaga, Power lead UH’s way
The seniors are set to play their home finale this weekend against WAC rival Fresno State
Life on the Hawaii softball team hasn't always been easy for Tyleen Tausaga and Alana Power.
Both Rainbow Wahine seniors endured some rough times over the years. But they've managed to survive the down times to help lead the Rainbow Wahine to one of the high points in the program's history.
"I had a couple of dark spots I think every female athlete goes through," Power said. "Just those times when you're injured or you're not playing and you're just questioning, 'What am I doing with my life?' I'm very proud of the fact that I didn't give up."
Their perseverance has led the UH seniors to this weekend's home finale, as the 16th-ranked Rainbow Wahine (40-8, 11-1 Western Athletic Conference) host rival and 25th-ranked Fresno State (35-14, 8-1) with first place in the conference at stake.
The three-game series opens with a single meeting tonight at 6 at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium and continues tomorrow with a doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. The seniors will be recognized after tomorrow's finale.
The senior duo bears the leadership roles for the Wahine while making up the right side of the UH infield. They've helped the Wahine post their highest ranking since 1998 and come within reach of their first NCAA regional appearance since 2003.
Tausaga has alternated between first base and designated player this season, while Power has started all 48 games at second base.
When Tausaga's UH career finally ends, she'll go into the books as one of the greatest hitters in school history. The Kaimuki graduate enters this week's series with a career batting average of .353 and is eight home runs short of the UH record with 30. She's also closing in on the school records for doubles with 40 (44, held by Julie Luft) and RBIs with 146 (148, Dana Degen).
"Just an incredible, gifted hitter -- eye-hand coordination, power, the whole deal," UH coach Bob Coolen said. "She will go down as one of the most proficient hitters in the program."
This season, the lefty is putting up the best numbers of her career at .401 with 12 homers and 42 RBIs.
"I think I grew as a batter," she said. "I'm not swinging at pitches I would have three years ago. I think I just got a little more disciplined. I'm not just going up there to swing, I'm going up there with a purpose, trying to figure out what she's going to throw."
There was some question whether Tausaga would even be playing at this point of the season. She had offseason surgery to repair a torn ACL in her left knee, then tore the meniscus in the same knee just before the season. The plan was to have her play the first few games then decide whether to redshirt. A 12-2 start sealed the call.
"That was it, I said, 'I'm playing, I don't care.' It was an easy decision," she said. "I would be all sick if I was a redshirt right now."
Said Coolen: "She sensed this season was going to be special and there was no way she was going to pull herself out of what was happening."
Power also had to work through an injury to make it to tomorrow's senior sendoff. She tore tendons in her throwing arm as a freshman, prompting a move from shortstop to second base. Following a redshirt year, her playing time increased each of the past three seasons, but she entered her senior year determined to earn a regular place in the starting lineup.
"She was mature enough to come in and say, 'I want to play full time. Give me a chance and I'll make it happen.' And she did," Coolen said.
A career .147 hitter entering the season, Power is currently batting .278. She has eclipsed her career totals prior to this season with 35 hits, four home runs and 20 RBIs.
"This year has been really fun in putting everything I've learned in the program together for my last year," said Power, the first product of Kealakehe to play for the Wahine. "It's a really nice gift."
Power is also the only member of the UH roster to experience an NCAA regional. The Wahine won the WAC title and played in the Austin regional in 2003, her redshirt year, and she's hoping to bookend her career with another postseason appearance.
"It was the most amazing feeling just winning the WAC (in 2003)," Power said. "That was a great team and I think this team is even better. ... It would be phenomenal."