FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Wahine third baseman Clare Warwick fielded an infield grounder and made the throw to first for the out in the seventh inning of the first game of yesterday's doubleheader.
Wahine split twin bill with NMSU to open WACSTORY SUMMARY »
Hawaii tripped out of the gate to begin the Western Athletic Conference softball schedule, but recovered to salvage a split of last night's doubleheader with New Mexico State.
After the Rainbow Wahine (25-11) dropped the opener 4-1, UH took the second game 4-0 behind a two-hit pitching performance by senior Kate Robinson.
In the first game, NMSU's Kim Watson kept the Wahine off the scoreboard until the bottom of the seventh. By then the Aggies had a comfortable cushion, thanks to freshman Ashley Maroda, who went 2-for-3 with a homer and scored three runs. Brittany Clifton and Kylie Randall added RBI singles for the Aggies (17-21).
UH scored three runs in the bottom of the second inning of the second game and Robinson (10-3) struck out seven while allowing only four Aggies to reach base.
The series concludes with a single game today starting at 5 p.m. at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.
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FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii third baseman Clare Warwick fielded a grounder and fired to first base for an out in the seventh inning of the first game of a doubleheader against New Mexico State last night.
A year after Hawaii rolled through the Western Athletic Conference schedule, coach Bob Coolen figured things would be harder this time around.
The 17th-ranked Rainbow Wahine opened defense of their regular-season conference crown by splitting a doubleheader with New Mexico State last night at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium and enters today's 5 p.m. finale needing a victory to claim the series before heading on the road later this week.
"This year we knew it was going to be tough," said Coolen, whose team went 16-2 in WAC play last season. "The preseason was up and down ... now we just have to see how the WAC unfolds."
UH (25-11) stumbled in its WAC opener by dropping yesterday's first game 4-1. The Wahine, behind the pitching of senior ace Kate Robinson, bounced back in the nightcap to salvage a split with a 4-0 win.
"That first game our energy was low and I think we just came out there expecting to win and they took it to us," Robinson said after her two-hit shutout.
"Tomorrow's important. We kind of dug a little hole for ourselves in the first game. Hopefully it's a little wake-up call for us."
UH's pregame preparation was thrown off some when expected starting pitcher Courtney Baughman was late arriving to the field due to a misunderstanding.
Jessica Morton was informed of her starting assignment 45 minutes before game time.
"It was kind of frightening because nobody knew where she was and I'm not going to use it as an excuse, but it really distracted everyone," Coolen said. "You don't really realize how responsible you are for all these young ladies until something like that."
New Mexico State's Kandis Jones struck out to lead off the series opener, yet still managed to set the tone for the game.
Jones forced Morton to throw 12 pitches before going down swinging. The Aggies remained the aggressor from that point on in ending a five-game losing streak to UH.
Jones was among five freshman starters for NMSU and the newcomers did most of the damage for the Aggies. Freshman third baseman Ashley Maroda went 2-for-3, including a solo homer in the fourth, and scored three runs in the 4-1 NMSU win.
Catcher Brittany Clifton and shortstop Kylie Randall also drove in runs for the Aggies who benefited from three UH errors, two leading to runs.
Junior Kim Watson mixed speeds and location to keep UH off balance, striking out four and shutting the Rainbow Wahine out until the bottom of the seventh when pinch hitter Julie Franklin drove in Clare Warwick.
Robinson answered for UH in the second game.
The Aggies managed singles by Jones and Kamehameha graduate Hoku Nohara, but put just five runners on base against Robinson, who struck out seven and improved to 10-3.
"They have a lot of lefties so I was throwing mostly screwballs and trying to keep it outside on them and then if I was ahead I'd come in," Robinson said.
UH gave Robinson a cushion with a three-run second inning. Robinson singled to center, advanced on Warwick's bunt single and scored on a throwing error on a bunt by Brandi Peiler. Valana Manuma and Kaulana Gould added RBI singles for the Wahine.
UH padded the lead in the sixth on Tanisha Milca's single to left to score Manuma, who doubled to lead off the inning.