Wahine awarded softball title
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Hawaii softball coach Bob Coolen's most important managerial decision came before the first pitch yesterday.
Coolen persuaded Long Beach State coach Kim Sowder to throw out the bracket for the Oceanic Time Warner Cable Paradise Classic and give the title to the team with the best record in the tournament.
So Hawaii took the crown before being silenced 1-0 by Long Beach State pitcher Brooke Turner. Kate Robinson took the loss for Hawaii.
The Rainbow Wahine were scheduled to play a second game against The Beach yesterday, but both coaches agreed to play just one game because it would have been Long Beach State's third game of the day.
Hawaii went 5-1 in the tournament, followed by Long Beach State at 4-3, Central Florida at 3-4 and Kentucky at 1-5.
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There was seemingly something for everyone on the final day of the Oceanic Time Warner Cable Paradise Classic.
Long Beach State got a confidence boost with a 1-0 win over nationally ranked Hawaii after losing to the Rainbow Wahine twice earlier in the tournament. UH, meanwhile, still claimed the tournament crown by going 5-1 over its opening weekend of the season.
LBSU freshman Brooke Turner handcuffed No. 16 Hawaii, striking out nine while allowing just two singles to a Rainbow Wahine team that entered the final hitting .331 with 19 extra-base hits.
"They're a great hitting team and the bottom line is our pitcher had a heck of a ballgame," LBSU coach Kim Sowder said. "She's got a great variety of pitches, so she does a good job of keeping the hitters off balance. She's constantly mixing."
UH senior Kate Robinson (2-1), who went undefeated in the regular season a year ago, gave up an RBI single to Ashley Weber in the second that scored Danielle Linke with the game's lone run.
Hawaii had handled the 49ers on Friday and Saturday, but couldn't muster a third win over a former Big West Conference nemesis.
"It was great to get the first two games against them. We were going in hoping to go 3-0, but they're too good a program to let that happen. But it would have been nice," UH coach Bob Coolen said.
"We didn't make adjustments on (Turner) and we were swinging at a ball that wasn't a strike once we got behind."
The tournament's original format called for an "if necessary" game if Hawaii, unbeaten in bracket play, lost to LBSU. But that would have meant the 49ers -- who began the day by beating Central Florida 5-0 -- playing three games in a day and seeing Hawaii for a fourth time since Friday. So the coaches agreed prior to the game to just play one regardless of the outcome and the title would be decided by overall record.
But the win still carried quite a bit of significance for the 49ers (6-5, 4-3 Paradise Classic), who play UH again on Feb. 29 in the Eller Media Stadium Classic in Las Vegas.
"This was a real big game for us," Sowder said. "It's been a while since we've beaten a top-20 team, we knew we were capable, but to play that strong and finish the tournament strong after losing to them twice, it was a big step for this team."
UH plays in tournaments at Palm Springs, Calif., and Las Vegas during an 11-day road trip. The Wahine also play a doubleheader at UC Riverside on Feb. 27.
Pitcher: Allison Kime, UCF
Infielders: Beanne Javier, UCF; Jennifer Griffin, LBSU; Clare Warwick, UH; Jessica Beaver, LBSU; Richie-Anne Titcomb, UH
Outfielders: Lacy Taylor, LBSU; Ashley Van Ryn, UCF; Brandi Peiler, UH
At-large: Kate Robinson, UH
Most Valuable Pitcher: Courtney Baughman, UH
Most Valuable Player: Tanisha Milca, UH