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Another power-hitting first baseman emerges at UH


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POSTED: Friday, April 24, 2009

Along with the cuts she took in the cage, the swings Amanda Tauali'i took in her mind helped prepare her for a breakout season.

“;I would just picture myself at bat and just see the ball and seeing myself hitting it solid,”; the Hawaii first baseman said. “;I didn't ever visualize where it went or anything, just connecting with the ball.”;

The results those visualization exercises produced were tough even for Tauali'i to foresee.

Tauali'i, who began the season with two career home runs, enters this weekend's series with New Mexico State tied for the Western Athletic Conference lead with 15. With six regular-season games and at least two more in the WAC tournament remaining, Tauali'i is six shy of the UH single-season record set by Kate Robinson last year.

The Rainbow Wahine (24-21, 10-5) open a three-game series with the Aggies (29-15, 9-5) tonight at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium. The opener is set for 6 p.m., with a doubleheader tomorrow starting at 2 p.m.

UH enters the series tied with Fresno State for second place in the WAC, a half-game behind Nevada. New Mexico State is another half-game behind UH and FSU.

Tauali'i's production helped the Wahine keep pace in a tight WAC race. She had a three-homer night against Nevada earlier this season and belted three more in UH's swing through northern California as the Rainbow Wahine won a series at San Jose State and swept a doubleheader against Santa Clara on Monday.

“;I've been struggling a little bit. I've been getting hits, but not connecting,”; Tauali'i said. “;(Last) weekend I feel like I finally starting hitting the ball solid on the button.”;

A shoulder injury hampered Tauali'i her first two years as she opened her junior year battling for the job at first base. She took control of the spot during the nonconference schedule and now leads the team in batting average (.362), triples (three), home runs, RBIs (36) and slugging percentage (.815).

Tauali'i continues a line of power-hitting first basemen at UH, following Robinson, Tyleen Tausaga and Stacey Porter.

“;With playing time comes confidence, with confidence comes relaxation, and with relaxation you start seeing the ball better,”; UH head coach Bob Coolen said.

“;When she hits the ball and uses her whole body, she's the same type of hitter Tyleen is in the sense that their legs are so strong and they have such upper-body strength, the ball just flies off the bat.”;

This weekend's series features four of the WAC's top five home run hitters. Tauali'i is tied with NMSU's Tiare Jennings for the lead. Kamehameha graduate Hoku Nohara and Angie Ortega have 13 each for the Aggies, who lead the league in team batting average (.350) and home runs (62).