Wahine get bats going vs. Aggies


POSTED: Saturday, April 11, 2009

Hawaii softball coach Bob Coolen's pregame message to the Rainbow Wahine hitters apparently hit home.

“;Before we came up to bat he said, 'I want you to remember one thing: Hitting is contagious,' “; UH senior Tanisha Milca said. “;And tonight it was.”;

The Wahine hit three home runs in a 9-1 Western Athletic Conference win over Utah State last night at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium. The game was called in the bottom of the sixth inning due to the eight-run mercy rule.

Milca went 3-for-4, drove in three runs and hit Hawaii's first home run of the night, a two-run shot in the second inning. Audrey Andrade led off the fourth with an opposite-field homer and Clare Warwick added a two-run blast later in the inning.

“;Three seniors go up there and hit three home runs—we hadn't done that in a while,”; Coolen said. “;It was nice to see that class getting in on the act because we need for them to get hot.”;

Amanda Tauali'i contributed to UH's 10-hit attack with a double and a triple as the Wahine (18-20, 6-4 WAC) kept pace with league leaders Nevada (7-2) and Fresno State (7-3). Utah State fell to 8-26 and 1-6.

Hawaii's offense lightened the load Stephanie Ricketts' pitching arm had been carrying lately. Each of Ricketts' last four starts, all complete-game efforts, were decided by one run. She also had a 12 1/3 -inning high-tension relief appearance in a 16-inning win at Fresno State last week.

There was no such drama last night, as Hawaii built a 6-0 lead through four innings and ended the game an inning early.

“;Steph only threw a couple of times this week to keep her arm fresh and she had some good pop tonight,”; Coolen said after Ricketts threw her 11th straight complete game.

Coolen plans to start Courtney Baughman in the first game of today's doubleheader and come back with Ricketts (13-7) in the finale. The first game is set for 2 p.m.

Hawaii loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the first inning but couldn't score.

Milca made sure the Aggies wouldn't escape in the second inning. Traci Yoshikawa reached second when a fly ball popped out of Utah State right fielder Emily Reilly's glove. One out later, Milca hammered a pitch from Lindsey Benson (1-16) out to left for her seventh home run of the season.

“;We've been doing a lot of hitting this week trying to get the bats going, and today we just came out on fire,”; Milca said. “;I was just happy to hit the ball again. I've been in kind of a slump lately.”;

Andrade led off the fourth inning with her second homer of the year. With two out, Milca doubled to right center to drive in Yoshikawa, and Warwick followed with her home run to center to give the Wahine a 6-0 lead.

After Ricketts allowed an RBI single to Megan McDonald in the fifth, UH answered in the bottom of the inning when Melissa Gonzalez drew a bases-loaded walk.

The lead grew to 8-1 in the sixth on Tauali'i's RBI triple into the right-field corner. The game ended when Tauali'i scored on a wild pitch to Julie Franklin.


WAC standings

Nevada72.778 27-12
Fresno State73.700 1/225-16
Hawaii64.600 1 1/218-20
Louisiana Tech45.444 320-17
Boise State45.444 318-16
New Mexico State34.429 323-14
San Jose State47.364 417-24
Utah State16.143 58-26

Hawaii 9, Utah State 1
New Mexico State 14, San Jose State 4
New Mexico State 6, San Jose State 0
Nevada 5, Boise State 0
Fresno State 7, Louisiana Tech 0