Rainbow Wahine rally for split


POSTED: Sunday, March 29, 2009

Although Nevada had won the series, the Hawaii softball team found reason to be upbeat following a doubleheader split yesterday at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.

The Rainbow Wahine dropped the opener 3-1, then held off the Wolf Pack 3-2 in the series finale to end a seven-game losing streak against the Wolf Pack and take some momentum on the road.

After seeing a three-run lead in the seventh inning dissolve into a 6-5 loss Friday night, Hawaii freshman Stephanie Ricketts came back with a complete-game win yesterday as the Wahine (15-19, 3-3 Western Athletic Conference) salvaged a game against the Wolf Pack (24-10, 4-1).

Ricketts struck out six and walked none and was able to protect the slender lead in the late innings.

“;After last night I couldn't really sleep thinking about what happened,”; Ricketts said. “;I knew I needed to forget about it today and show them I was better than how I played last night.”;

Offensively, the Wahine took what the Pack gave them to end Nevada's spell.

After Kanani Pu'u-Warren was hit by a pitch and Clare Warwick doubled down the left-field line to lead off the second inning, a pitch from Mallary Darby went to the backstop to score Pu'u-Warren. When the return throw was mishandled, Warwick bolted to the plate as well to give UH a 2-0 lead.

“;That's instinctual, that's rehearse and react, and it was the deciding factor,”; UH coach Bob Coolen said. “;That was all on their own.”;

Warwick had hit second or third in the lineup the entire season before being moved to sixth for yesterday's finale and her double ended a personal streak of 18 games without an extra-base hit.

“;I think when you get in a rut any change can be a good thing,”; said Warwick, who drew a bases-loaded walk in the third to give UH a 3-0 lead. “;To do the same thing over and over again really got me nowhere the last two weeks, so definitely it helped.”;

Nevada, which has a history of comebacks against the Wahine in recent years, took advantage of a misplayed fly ball and a throwing error on a grounder to short in the fifth inning to close to within a run.

But after Brittany Puzey's RBI single cut the UH lead to 3-2, Ricketts retired the last seven Nevada batters in order, needing only three pitches in the seventh.

Both Ricketts and Courtney Baughman, UH's starter in the first game, relied heavily on offspeed pitches to keep an aggressive Wolf Pack lineup off balance.

“;(Catcher) Katie (Grimes) called a really good game,”; Ricketts said. “;Actually sometimes I thought it was too much (offspeed), but they kept swinging at them, so she really knew what she was doing.”;

Baughman turned in a solid outing in the first game, but Nevada jumped ahead with two runs in the first inning and padded the lead on Puzey's solo homer in the third.

With the crowd spilling over from Les Murakami Stadium after the UH baseball team's win filling the stands, the Wahine put the tying runs on base with one out in the bottom of the seventh. But Nevada's Katie Holverson got Tanisha Milca to line out to center, and Warwick's groundout ended the threat.

The Wahine next travel to California to face rival Fresno State (21-13, 5-1) on Friday and Saturday.