RAINBOW WAHINE SOFTBALL
Wahine get into NCAAs
Hawaii quickly shakes off the disappointment of falling short in the WAC
The Hawaii softball team hopes its seventh appearance in the NCAA Tournament is the one that gets it to Oklahoma City, Okla., for the World Series.
But the first stop is Los Angeles, where the Rainbow Wahine head tomorrow from Fresno, Calif., to prepare for the regional hosted by No. 12-seeded UCLA. Unseeded but 12th-ranked UH (46-11) opens against UC Santa Barbara (30-21) on Friday at 11:30 a.m. Hawaii time in the double-elimination tournament.
HAWAII'S NCAA REGIONAL RECORDS
Year, wins-losses, site
1994: 2-2, Lawrence, Kan.
1995: 2-2, Columbus, SC.
1998: 1-2, Tucson, Ariz.
1999: 3-2, Seattle
2001: 0-2, Tucson, Ariz.
2003: 3-2, Austin, Texas
The Wahine -- who have lost their first game in their last four NCAA appearances -- will be the favorites against the Gauchos, who finished sixth in the Big West.
The other teams in the regional are Loyola Marymount (45-16) and UCLA (36-16).
Loyola Marymount is the only team in the regional Hawaii has played this season. The visiting Wahine won both games, 1-0 and 14-1.
Coach Bob Coolen and first baseman Tyleen Tausaga said the Wahine have shaken off losing two of three games in last week's Western Athletic Conference tournament in Fresno.
Rainbow Wahine make regional
It didn't take long for the Hawaii softball team to shake off the disappointment of falling short in the Western Athletic Conference tournament.
Yesterday the Rainbow Wahine (46-11) received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, their first since 2003. UH plays UC Santa Barbara (30-21) at 11:30 a.m. Hawaii time on Friday at the UCLA-hosted double-elimination regional. The Bruins (36-16) are the No. 12 seed in the 64-team tournament, and play Loyola Marymount (45-16) on Friday.
No. 12 Hawaii is unseeded despite having the highest ranking and best record in the regional. But the Wahine lost two of three games in the WAC tournament after dominating the conference during the regular season.
"We've put that behind us and everyone's very excited," UH coach Bob Coolen said. "The next day (after losses to Fresno State and Nevada on Friday) we had a practice. Everybody was still down, but this lifted our spirits.
"We sort of expected (to be sent to Los Angeles) -- our California girls are excited," Coolen said. "We thought they'd send us either to Washington, L.A. or Arizona."
This is UH's seventh appearance in the NCAAs.
UH won 1-0 and 14-1 at Loyola Marymount in February. The Wahine did not play the other two regional teams this year.
"We don't know anything about UC Santa Barbara or UCLA yet," Coolen said.
UCSB was just sixth in the Big West at 7-11, but has won seven of its last 11 games.
"I'm surprised five Big West teams got in," Coolen said. The only other team to get in from the WAC is league tournament champion Fresno State (46-16). The Bulldogs play in the regional hosted by Stanford.
If the Wahine beat the Gauchos, they play the winner of UCLA and Loyola Marymount at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. If they lose their first game, they play the loser of the other opener on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
The winner of the Los Angeles regional advances to a 2-out-of-3 super regional against the winner of the Knoxville, Tenn., regional. That regional is hosted by No. 5 seed Tennessee. Vols sophomore shortstop Liane Horiuchi is a 2005 Kamehameha graduate, and freshman utility player Anita Manuma is a 2006 Campbell graduate and the sister of UH infielder Valana Manuma.
Coolen said the Rainbow Wahine will remain in Fresno until tomorrow.
"We'll practice (today) and get the kinks out and get the pitchers ready," he said. "We'll stay loose and leave for the Los Angeles area on Tuesday. The first day we can get on the field is Thursday, so we have to find somewhere to practice Wednesday."
Coolen said yesterday he did not know yet who would pitch the first game.
Wahine first baseman Tyleen Tausaga said losing two of three games (and back-to-back losses for the first time) at the WAC Tournament won't affect UH's confidence heading into the NCAAs.
"We're capable of beating any team we play, but we know we can't take anyone lightly," said Tausaga, who leads UH with a .407 batting average. "We're disappointed we didn't win the WAC tournament, but it's done and we got our bid to the tournament, so we're going to do our best to win our regional and keep advancing, hopefully all the way."
The Los Angeles regional will be televised by ESPNU, which is available in Hawaii only via satellite.