FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Rainbow Wahine's Richie-Ann Titcomb tagged out Utah State's Nicole Rupp at second base in yesterday's first game.
Hawaii takes 2 from Utah State
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The Hawaii softball team ended its run of late-inning frustration in a doubleheader sweep of Utah State yesterday at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.
The Wahine scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning in a 5-2 win in the first game. UH senior Kate Robinson then took a no-hitter into the seventh inning of the second game before giving up two singles in the final frame of a 3-0 win, her ninth shutout of the season.
The wins snapped UH's six-game Western Athletic Conference losing streak, the last two coming in extra innings, and the Wahine clinched the third seed in this week's league tournament at RWSS.
The Wahine close the regular season with today's senior day game at 2 p.m. UH's five seniors -- Robinson, Kaulana Gould, Valana Manuma, Jessica Morton and Brandi Peiler -- will be recognized after the game.
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With an assist from a sophomore, the Hawaii softball team opened "senior weekend" with a doubleheader sweep of Utah State yesterday at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.
The Wahine ended a six-game Western Athletic Conference skid by beating the Aggies 5-2 in the first game, with sophomore Amanda Tauali'i delivering a tie-breaking single in the bottom of the sixth. Senior Kate Robinson then took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before giving up two singles and closing out UH's 3-0 victory in the second game.
The wins locked UH (35-17, 9-7 WAC) into the third seed in the WAC tournament, which opens Wednesday at RWSS. It also gave the Wahine a taste of victory in their return home following a 2-6 road trip in which they dropped four one-run decisions and fell out of contention for the regular-season title.
"We needed these two wins to feel good about ourselves and fix the things we didn't do on the road," said Robinson, who drove in two runs in the opener and recorded her ninth shutout of the season while striking out 10 Aggies in the second game.
The Wahine close out the regular season today with a single game against the Aggies (14-31, 2-14) at 2 p.m. The team's five seniors -- Robinson, Kaulana Gould, Valana Manuma, Jessica Morton and Brandi Peiler -- will be honored after the game.
"Like I told them, those two wins are in the book -- let's start concentrating on tomorrow since it's a special day," UH coach Bob Coolen said. "It's a sad day and a joyful day all in one."
The senior class came through yesterday, with Morton and Robinson earning wins in the circle and Gould providing two runs and a key word of advice to an underclassman.
After Utah State erased a 2-0 UH lead with single runs in the third and fifth innings, the Wahine loaded the bases with one out in the sixth. Coolen then summoned Tauali'i, who entered the game with just one at-bat in WAC play, as a pinch hitter.
Tauali'i said Gould, the only other left-handed hitter on the team, provided a tip before she went to the plate.
"She had told me she had seen a lot of outside pitches, so I was just looking for something outside that I could hit and go to the opposite field," Tauali'i said.
Tauali'i worked the count full before flaring a single, just her third hit of the season, into left field to score Robinson with the go-ahead run. The Wahine padded the lead on a bases-loaded walk to Katie Grimes and Tanisha Milca's RBI single.
Morton picked up the win in relief of Courtney Baughman, giving up four hits and an unearned run while striking out two in 3 2/3 innings.
"Coach told us at practice if you come to the field trying not to lose, you're going to lose," Morton said.
"Come to the field knowing you're going to win."
UH jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second game, both runs scoring on a bunt by Gould. After Milca led off with a single, Gould dropped a bunt just in front of the plate. The throw to first was wild and Milca and Gould circled the bases as the ball rolled into the right-field corner.
Most of the drama from that point revolved around Robinson's bid for a no-hitter, which ended with Amy Schaible's sharp single to center to lead off the seventh.
The Aggies then threatened to steal the game as well, loading the bases with one out. But Robinson struck out Kelly Yates and Megan McDonald to end the game.
"I was trying to throw lots of drops, keep the ball low so they can't hit anything out, just let the defense work," Robinson said.
The Wahine have today's game and the annual senior festivities before turning their focus to hosting the WAC tournament for the first time.
Nevada clinched the regular-season title and the top seed with a sweep of San Jose State yesterday. Defending tournament champion Fresno State will be the second seed. UH faces fourth-seeded Louisiana Tech at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
|New Mexico State
|San Jose State
Hawaii 5, Utah State 2 (1st)
Hawaii 3, Utah State 0 (2nd)
Nevada 3, San Jose State 2 (1st)
Nevada 5, San Jose State 4 (2nd, 8 innings)
Fresno State 4, New Mexico State 0 (1st)
Fresno State 4, New Mexico State 1 (2nd)
Utah State at Hawaii, 2 p.m., Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium