FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Katie Grimes had a pair of singles in yesterday's doubleheader but did not drive in any runs.
Wahine split a pair to earn series win
Her home run on Friday was nice.
But for Alana Power, a simple force play up the middle yesterday was even sweeter.
Next Up At Utah State. on Friday
With the bases loaded and two out in the seventh -- and first-place in the conference at stake -- the senior second baseman's lunging backhanded stab of a sharp grounder headed for center field sealed the Hawaii softball team's 2-1 victory over rival Fresno State, securing the program's first series win over the Bulldogs.
It was a fitting end to senior day, as the Wahine bounced back from a 6-2 loss in the first game of yesterday's doubleheader to assume command of the Western Athletic Conference regular-season title chase.
"It was a well-hit ball, and luckily the ball just fell in my glove," a lei-covered Power said moments after stomping on second base to end the tense contest. "I threw the ball in the air and I looked at my teammates and they were all screaming. Knowing it was my last home game it was just a very sweet feeling."
Hawaii (42-9, 13-2 WAC) closes the regular season this weekend at Utah State with a chance to wrap up the top seed in next month's WAC tournament in Fresno, Calif.
Fresno State (36-14, 9-3) has series with Louisiana Tech and San Jose State left and will need the Wahine to stumble to have a shot at a fifth straight regular-season crown.
Yesterday's drama was in stark contrast to Friday's series opener, when the Wahine battered Fresno State 18-2.
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii reliever Jessica Morton threw to first for the out yesterday after fielding a high-hopper.
The Wahine struggled against Bulldog ace Robin Mackin in yesterday's first game and got just enough offense to back pitcher Kate Robinson (14-0) in the second game to claim the series.
"We knew coming into today that Fresno was a team that was just too proud to let what happened (Friday) night happen to them again," UH coach Bob Coolen said.
"I told them (between games) the whole No. 1 seed thing was on the line. We hold our destiny. I told them they have to come out and want this game."
Kaulana Gould gave UH the lead with a line-drive home run that just cleared the center-field fence in the first inning of the finale. After Fresno State's Nichole Willis tied the game with a solo homer --her second of the day -- UH third baseman Clare Warwick answered with a solo shot in the third that proved to be the game-winner.
Robinson finished with eight strikeouts and battled out of a jam in the sixth to preserve the lead. And after Fresno State loaded the bases with two out in the seventh, Lisamarie Coronado's grounder up the middle appeared destined to get through the infield for a single. But Power was able to spear it to end the game.
"I thought if Alana didn't stop it that would probably be the game because they would have gotten two runs off of that," Robinson said. "I'm really happy she made the play because it's her senior year and I don't think she could have ended it a better way."
Despite losing the series, Fresno State coach Margie Wright was pleased with her team's effort in bouncing back from Friday's blowout. After being chased in the first inning Friday, Mackin handcuffed the UH batters in the opener yesterday and struck out nine on her way to a complete-game victory.
"I just think she learned a big lesson last night -- we all did -- and she got very focused early on and did a great job," Wright said. "I'm proud of my team, I think they did a great job coming back."
After the doubleheader, the Bulldogs stuck around for the senior ceremony, lining up along the first-base line as Power and Tyleen Tausaga were recognized.
"I have a lot of respect for them now because they didn't have to stay and they did," Tausaga said. "I made a point to go over there and shake their hand. I'm appreciative that they did. They showed class and they stayed."