RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
UH's Kaulana Gould reacted as her boyfriend Chris Williams proposed on the field yesterday.
Gould gets her guy
The center fielder accepts marriage proposal as her team celebrates its seniors
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After a sparkling day on the diamond, Kaulana Gould left Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium with one on her finger.
vs. Louisiana Tech on Wednesday
The UH center fielder not only helped the Rainbow Wahine get a 5-0 win over Utah State to close the regular season, she also got "the shock of her life" when her boyfriend, Chris Williams, proposed to her on the field to cap the already emotional senior day ceremony at RWSS.
"A few weeks ago before they went on their last road trip I came up with the idea and I just asked Coach Bob (Coolen) if it would be appropriate and he said, 'go for it,' " said Williams, a former UH football player.
Gould had already had a pretty good day at the park, going 2-for-2 with a double and a run scored, as the Wahine completed a 36-17 regular season with a three-game sweep of Utah State.
Kate Robinson, Clare Warwick and Katie Grimes homered for UH and Robinson earned her second win of the series with 6 2/3 shutout innings.
But unlike other senior days, the Wahine have more home appearances to look forward to this week as they host the Western Athletic Conference tournament starting Wednesday.
"It was pretty overwhelming today," senior outfielder Brandi Peiler said, "but it's not over yet."
RICHARD WALKER RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Teammates presented senior Kate Robinson with leis yesterday after the Rainbow Wahine softball team's last regular-season game. Robinson hit her school-record 40th career home run in the game and pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings for the 5-0 win over Utah State.
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Like the rest of her fellow Hawaii seniors, Kaulana Gould savored her share of memorable moments on the field at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.
None, though, could top yesterday.
Gould already had ample reason to celebrate on senior day, going 2-for-2 with a double in Hawaii's 5-0 win over Utah State to close the regular season.
But the postgame festivities went to another level when Chris Williams, a former Warriors linebacker, was introduced to the crowd and after few words, took a knee along the first-base line and proposed to his girlfriend of three years.
"It was the shock of my life," said Gould, peeking out over a pile of leis and sporting the ring on her finger.
"Today is by far the best day of my life. We won, everyone in my family is here and I had the surprise of my life. It's been great."
The emotional scene - which had even the Utah State players who stuck around for the ceremony in tears - capped a three-game sweep of the Aggies, a 36-17 regular season for the Wahine and a senior day that went according to script even before the Hollywood ending.
Kate Robinson added to her UH career home run record with a two-run shot in the first inning. It was the 40th blast in her four years at Manoa and the first of three for the Wahine. Robinson also pitched 6 2/3 shutout innings in the win. Reliever Jessica Morton then came in for a three-pitch strikeout to end the game and really get senior day started for the group of five - Gould, Morton, Robinson, Valana Manuma and Brandi Peiler.
"It means a lot," Peiler said. "When they gave the (introductions) for all of us I just remembered us growing up together and meeting a lot of challenges. It was pretty overwhelming."
Prior to joining the program, RWSS had been a special site for the Hawaii-grown members of the class of 2008, all of whom won state high school championships on that field. Robinson, Gould and Peiler were members of Kamehameha's 2002 title team and Manuma helped Kapolei to the 2004 crown.
Morton, though, is the longest-tenured member of the group, closing out her fifth year in the program as the team's primary closer.
"Coach addressed everyone (Saturday night) and explained how important this game was and I think everybody just came and wanted to win it for the seniors," Morton said.
The Wahine jumped out to a 3-0 advantage in the first on back-to-back homers from Robinson and Clare Warwick, to nearly the same spot in left-center. Katie Grimes added a solo shot in the second and Gould scored the game's final run, coming in on a sacrifice fly by Warwick.
Robinson was in control in the circle, allowing three hits while striking out seven and picking up her second shutout of the series.
"We're just trying to make the most of everything right now and it felt good to pitch a strong game," Robinson said. "I had some extra adrenaline and excitement knowing it's the last regular-season game."
Williams, who met Gould in study hall at the Nagatani Academic Center three years ago, then provided the postgame highlight.
He said he came up with the idea for the proposal before the team's last road trip and asked UH coach Bob Coolen for permission to do it on senior day.
"It sort of gives you the human side of the game," Coolen said. "You're always working hard with the kids and barking at them, and this right here is a culmination of real life. And it's something real special that he chose the field to do it on because they'll remember it every time they come here. She'll remember this moment and this day and it's just real neat for them."
Coolen was among a select few who were aware of his plans, a group that included Gould's mother, Fawn, who admitted it was tough keeping the secret.
"When I got here today, it just hit me that she's grown up," she said. "She's a woman now. She's had a wonderful softball career at UH, she's a good girl, she works hard and she deserves happiness."
Said Kaulana: "They kept it from me and I don't know how they did because I'm always on top of things like that. So that was a good one."
Despite the sense of closure that comes with the annual sendoff, senior day was hardly the end for the Wahine. They'll return to RWSS on Wednesday night to open the WAC tournament against Louisiana Tech in their first year as hosts of the event.
"We're going to enjoy today," Manuma said, "but when the tournament starts we have to refocus."
Final WAC Softball Standings
|New Mexico State
|San Jose State
Hawaii 5, Utah State 0
END REGULAR SEASON