Rainbow Wahine keep the power on


POSTED: Saturday, April 25, 2009

Facing the Western Athletic Conference's top home-run-hitting team, the Hawaii softball team used the long ball to power past New Mexico State 3-1 last night at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.

The Rainbow Wahine (25-21, 11-5 WAC) hit three solo home runs off NMSU starter Kim Watson, and pitcher Stephanie Ricketts limited the Aggies (29-16, 9-6) to four singles as Hawaii picked up its fifth straight win.

Tanisha Milca led off the bottom of the third inning with a homer to left-center. One out later, Makani Duhaylonsod-Kaleimamahu's opposite-field liner cleared the right-field fence to give UH a 2-0 lead. Kanani Pu'u-Warren hit Watson's first pitch of the fourth inning—and her last of the game—out to center for the last of UH's runs.

After hitting 13 home runs in a five-game road trip to San Jose State and Santa Clara, the Wahine raised their season total to 53 last night, closing the gap on NMSU's league-high 62.

“;It started from last weekend and we're starting to feel that rhythm and we're trying to carry that into these games,”; Milca said.

Ricketts improved to 18-8 as Hawaii won for the 10th time in its last 11 games and remained tied with Fresno State for second place in the WAC. The Wahine and Bulldogs are a full game behind first-place Nevada, which swept a doubleheader against Utah State yesterday.

After Milca hit her 11th homer of the season, Duhaylonsod-Kaleimamahu continued her hot streak after hitting three home runs last weekend.

“;I think it was supposed to be a throw-away pitch, not even in the zone,”; Duhaylonsod-Kaleimamahu said. “;But it didn't get out of there, so I just made contact with it. I was surprised because I didn't swing that hard.”;

After Pu'u-Warren put UH up 3-0 with her fourth homer, Kamehameha graduate Hoku Nohara cut into the lead in the top of the fifth. With runners on second and third and two out, UH shortstop Traci Yoshikawa couldn't handle Nohara's bad-hop grounder and Kristi Randall scored NMSU's lone run.

Ricketts retired the last seven Aggies in order to close out the win, and didn't give NMSU's power-laden middle of the order—Tiare Jennings, Nohara and Angie Ortega—another chance to swing.

“;They're potent. You can tell by the way the ball jumps off of their bats,”; UH coach Bob Coolen said.

“;Stephanie did a good job of keeping the ball down, she mixed well. That was something we talked about all week. It's time to step back a little bit and let your arm freshen up. You don't have to throw every day. We want you have some pop on the ball. She had some pop tonight.”;

The series concludes with a doubleheader today starting at 2 p.m. at RWSS.

WAC Standings

Nevada104.714 30-14
Fresno State115.686 29-18
Hawaii115.686 25-21
New Mexico State95.643 129-15
Louisiana Tech87.533 2 1/227-19
San Jose State511.313 618-31
Boise State411.267 6 1/221-23
Utah State314.176 8 1/210-34

Hawaii 3, New Mexico State 1
Nevada 3, Utah State 1
Nevada 8, Utah State 0
Fresno State 6, Boise State 3
Louisiana Tech 10, San Jose State 1

New Mexico State at Hawaii (2), 2 p.m.
San Jose State at Louisiana Tech (2)
Fresno State at Boise State (2)
Utah State at Nevada