Hawaii seniors take a bow
With its Western Athletic Conference season in the books, the Hawaii baseball team will spend the weekend paying homage to nine seniors.
Hawaii vs. Utah Valley.; Les Murakami Stadium; tomorrow-Sunday, 6:35 p.m.; TV: KFVE; Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM.
The Rainbows welcome Utah Valley to Les Murakami Stadium for the final three-game series of the season beginning tomorrow night.
Barring a sweep of second place Nevada by San Jose State, Hawaii (26-27, 18-14 WAC) will be the third seed in next week's WAC tournament in Ruston, La. The Rainbows would jump into second if the Spartans beat the Wolf Pack four straight games.
The Wolverines (15-35-1) come to town having played five games in as many days.
Hawaii has a chance to finish at or above .500 with a series win this weekend, but will also focus on being ready for the tournament next week.
"(Our focus) is going to be slightly different," Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso said. "Obviously we want to play to win, but it's important for our guys to recharge their batteries and be rested going into the tournament."
The Rainbows had some new faces in the lineup against New Mexico State that they hadn't seen in awhile.
Senior Evan Zimny started games at designated hitter and right field, which was his first playing time since late March.
Juniors Ryan Morford and Shane Hoey, who have each appeared in 15 games or less this year, pinch-hit in multiple games against the Aggies.
Trapasso didn't comment on who might see added playing time, but no matter who it is, he expects whoever is on the field to play with the same energy and commitment as if it was a championship game.
"We expect our guys that may not be starters and go out and play well," Trapasso said. "When the game starts, our guys are going to be intense and intent on winning as if it was any other game."
Seniors Nick Rhodes and Josh Schneider will make their final home starts as Rainbows in the first two games of the series.
Rhodes has been a savior of sorts as Hawaii's number 2 guy in the rotation. He is 4-5 with a 5.13 ERA while Schneider (4-2, 5.35 ERA) will make his fifth start of the season.
Staff ace Jared Alexander, who hasn't pitched since suffering an elbow injury two weeks ago against Sacramento State, will throw on the side this weekend and could pitch "a couple innings on Saturday" if he feels good, according to Trapasso.
The status of senior Ryan Asato, who reinjured his hamstring at New Mexico State, and freshman Sean Montplaisir, out with a shoulder injury, is still up in the air for this weekend.
Montplaisir was cleared by doctors to start swinging a bat and Trapasso will determine his status after today's practice.
"We're keeping our fingers crossed and seeing how things go," Trapasso said of all three injuries.
Saturday night will be the final home games for nine seniors. Brandon Haislet and Jon Hee, who are 1-2 on the team in hitting, are the biggest contributing seniors, but they aren't the only ones who have made an impact.
"It's easy to look at what their contributions are," Trapasso said of Haislet and Hee. "To look at some of our other seniors leaving the program that may have not been every day players or pitched very many innings and the way they stuck to their roles and understood what they were I think shows true leadership in its own right."