Red-hot Wahine slam Bulldogs
After not playing an official game for close to two weeks, Hawaii softball coach Bob Coolen admitted to feeling a little antsy entering last night's series opener with Fresno State.
"I was concerned we weren't going to be game-ready," Coolen said.
Next Up vs. Fresno State, 2, today
"It's been two weeks and naturally you get concerned about, 'Do they have their hitting eye? Do they have their step on the field?' "
Those fears evaporated early as the 16th-ranked Rainbow Wahine struck for 15 runs in the first two innings and hit six home runs on their way to a stunning 18-2 rout of the No. 25 Bulldogs before the biggest home crowd in the program's history.
Left fielder Brandi Peiler got the Wahine rolling with a three-run homer in the first, and senior first baseman Tyleen Tausaga added two more shots in UH's explosion at the plate.
With a crowd in excess of 1,000 at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium, the Wahine took just 80 minutes to improve to 41-8 overall and 12-1 in the WAC with their eighth straight victory. The game was called after five innings due to the eight-run mercy rule. Fresno State dropped to 35-14 and 8-2.
The margin was the widest in the 64 meetings between the teams.
"It's such an amazing feeling right now," said second baseman Alana Power, who hit a two-run homer in the first inning. "We've been training for this type of pitching the whole week and the girls have just given me goose bumps. It's a great way to start the series."
Hawaii wraps up the home schedule with a doubleheader today starting at 2 p.m.
The Wahine have split series with Fresno State in the past, but have never taken a WAC series against the Bulldogs.
"We've beaten them before on the first day and the next day they've annihilated us, and we can't let that happen," Coolen said. "We have to take the series."
"We know tomorrow is a new day and they're going to come out a different team," Tausaga said.
Fresno State coach Margie Wright saw her team surrender a season high in runs as ace Robin Mackin (26-8), the WAC's pitcher of the year last season, lasted just two-thirds of an inning.
"What can I say, they just smacked the ball," Wright said.
UH stretched its WAC record home run total to 70, with Kate Robinson and Katie Grimes adding to the homers by Peiler, Tausaga and Power.
UH's second six-homer outing of the season contributed to a quick night for Robinson in the pitcher's circle. The junior improved to 13-0, scattered four hits, struck out four and drove in four runs at the plate.
Despite the anticipation surrounding the showdown for first place in the WAC, Tausaga said the UH dugout was relatively calm prior to the game.
"We weren't even hyped up, we were just cool," she said following her second career two-homer game. "We just stuck to what we've been doing this whole season, just staying focused and playing great ball."
After Mackin got a strikeout to start the game, UH loaded the bases and Robinson opened the scoring by bouncing a two-run single into left field. Peiler then hammered a three-run homer to center field to give the Wahine a 5-0 lead.
"I just told myself to look for something I could hit hard," Peiler said. "I've been struggling for a while, so I was just trying to be relaxed in the box and hit something in my zone."
Valana Manuma followed with a single and Power began her final homestand by hitting her fifth homer of the season.