Revamped Wahine tame Wildcats 6-1
Bob Coolen penciled in a new lineup and the Hawaii softball team may have found a new attitude heading into conference play.
After Coolen shook up the batting order, the 17th-ranked Rainbow Wahine responded with a 6-1 win over No. 12 Northwestern in the finale of the Bank of Hawaii Invitational yesterday at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.
Smarting over a 4-2 loss in extra innings against Saint Mary's on Friday, the Wahine (24-10) came back from an early deficit to finish 3-2 in the tournament by knocking off a Wildcat team that reached the Women's College World Series last year.
"It's probably our biggest win of the season so far," senior first baseman Kate Robinson said.
"Today we said we were going to be in control. We were going to set the pace, we were going to make them press for runs, and that's what we did."
The Wahine improved to 4-5 against teams ranked in last week's NFCA Top 25 poll and open defense of their Western Athletic Conference regular-season title tomorrow against New Mexico State (16-20) at RWSS. The doubleheader starts at 5 p.m. They close the series with a single game Tuesday at 5 p.m.
Getting off to a fast start will be critical in a WAC race that includes three teams already past the 20-win mark -- UH, No. 19 Fresno State (30-5) and Nevada (23-11, 3-0 WAC).
Among the moves Coolen made yesterday was shifting freshman second baseman Melissa Gonzalez into the third hole while bouncing three other players into new spots. Gonzalez delivered with a triple to lead off the fourth and scored the go-ahead run, just beating the throw to the plate after Robinson's blooper dropped in behind the pitcher's circle.
Shortstop Valana Manuma, who tied the game by knocking the ball loose while scoring on a wild pitch in the third inning, padded the lead with a two-run double off the left-field fence later in the fourth.
Robinson -- who continues to power the Wahine at .390 with a team-high 12 homers and 31 RBIs -- also drove in two runs for UH.
"Even though we had some .300 hitters, they weren't complementing each other," Coolen said. "Tonight's lineup complemented each other. I liked what I saw because we got the job done. The short game worked, the long ball came into effect. That might have some chemistry there. ... I saw a different attitude out there amongst all of them."
Courtney Baughman improved to 11-6 with the complete-game win, striking out three while scattering eight hits. Lauren Delaney took the loss for Northwestern (13-8), which played its four games in two days.
"We challenged Courtney tonight and we gave her specific locations to go after," Coolen said. "It was a game we talked about before the game and she executed really well."
California went 4-1 this week and clinched the tournament title with a 1-0 win over the Wildcats yesterday. Baldwin graduate Sanoe Kekahuna went 0-for-2 for the Bears, but still ended the week hitting .391.