RAINBOW WAHINE SOFTBALL
Hawaii ready for Super Regional
Hawaii will take on top-ranked Tennessee tomorrow afternoon
The Hawaii softball team is hoping for some "beginners luck" as it gets ready to make its first appearance in a NCAA softball Super Regional in school history.
It won't be easy, however, as the Rainbow Wahine will face top-ranked and fifth-seeded Tennessee, which boasts a 55-3 record and did not give up a run in its three victories in last week's regionals.
All times Hawaii time
At Tyson Park, Knoxville, Tenn.
» Tomorrow: Hawaii (49-11) at Tennessee (57-5), 2 p.m.
» Saturday: Hawaii at Tennessee, 10 a.m.
» Saturday: Hawaii at Tennessee, 12:30 p.m., if necessary
» TV: OC 16, 2 p.m., live, tomorrow
» Radio: KKEA (1420-AM), live, tomorrow
Justine Smethurst was flawless in her two wins last weekend for Hawaii.
The sophomore didn't give up a run in either game, including a 10-inning shutout of UC-Santa Barbara in which she struck out 12 batters.
But the Wahine will face arguably the toughest pitcher they have squared off against all season in senior Monica Abbott, who is one of three finalists for the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year award.
The Volunteers have two local players on their team in sophomore Liane Horiuchi (Kamehameha) and freshman Anita Manuma (Campbell). Manuma is the younger sister of Rainbow Wahine starting shortstop Valana Manuma.
The first game of the three-game series is tomorrow at 2 p.m. Hawaii time.
Road-weary Wahine make it to Tennessee
To prepare for its first-ever appearance in an NCAA Super Regional, the Hawaii softball team is going to do today what it hasn't been able to do in awhile.
The Rainbow Wahine survived two plane rides and a 3-hour bus ride to make it to Knoxville, Tenn., where Hawaii (49-11) will face top-ranked and fifth-seeded Tennessee (57-5) in a three-game series beginning tomorrow for a berth in the College World Series.
The opener is set for 2 p.m. Hawaii time. Game 2 will be Saturday at 10 a.m and a third game, if needed, would immediately follow. All games will be televised on OC 16.
Coach Bob Coolen has seen just about everything in his 16 seasons at the helm, but even this is uncharted territory for the long-time coach.
"It's been one of those situations where we finally got over the hump," Coolen said. "This is a new experience for us and right now I think we're a little tired, but they will get to sleep in (today) and hopefully that'll get everyone recharged and ready to go."
The team arrived in Knoxville at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday night, but instead of letting them sleep in, Coolen had them wake up early to get accustomed to the 6-hour time difference. Today's practice, however, won't be until 4 in the afternoon, allowing some of the Rainbow Wahine to catch up on some much-needed sleep.
"Yesterday was a long travel day, and everyone is beat," sophomore pitcher Justine Smethurst said. "In terms of the time change, though, our games are going to mostly be played at night, so it shouldn't affect our sleeping patterns."
Smethurst was instrumental in helping the Rainbow Wahine advance through the regionals for the first time in seven tries. The hard-throwing right-hander went 2-0 without giving up a run in 17 innings and struck out 19 batters while walking just four.
"She was flirting with 70 (miles per hour) and just bringing it," Coolen said. "That's why our goal now is to get over the jet lag and get her rested up to hopefully do it again."
It will not be an easy task, as the Rainbow Wahine take on one of the premier teams in the country. The Volunteers have advanced to the College World Series in each of the last two seasons, and feature one of the best pitchers in the country in senior Monica Abbott.
Abbott is the NCAA career leader in wins, shutouts and strikeouts, and is a four-time all-SEC selection and three-time SEC pitcher of the year. Yesterday she was announced as one of the three finalists for the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year award. She has a 44-3 record this season and has won more than 40 games and struck out more than 500 batters all four years she has played.
"I saw them play in Las Vegas and was impressed with how easily they were able to score runs, Coolen said. "And with a pitcher like Monica on the mound, all they need is a couple runs to win."
The Volunteers also feature a pair of local girls in Liane Horiuchi, a 2005 graduate of Kamehameha, and Anita Manuma, a 2006 Campbell grad who is also the younger sister of Hawaii starting shortstop Valana Manuma. The Tennessee duo combined to go 5-for-8 with a double and three runs scored in the Volunteers' 8-0 regional-clinching victory over Furman. Tennessee swept all three of its regional games without giving up a run.
"We just need to bring all elements of our game to the table," Coolen said. "Tennessee is very successful at pitching and hitting and we need to do the same thing as well."