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StarBulletin.com

Senior sayonara


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POSTED: Friday, May 01, 2009

Not particularly fond of pink, Tanisha Milca insisted early this season that the bat she'd been swinging was in fact “;salmon.”;

But after banging out 12 homers with that Easton and with precious few swings left at home, she's since softened her stance.

“;It's the end of the season, I've accepted it,”; Milca said. “;It's no longer salmon. It's the pink bat.”;

Whatever the hue, Milca's bat has been highly productive over the last four years and fits the theme for tomorrow's farewell appearance for Hawaii's senior class.

The Hawaii seniors play their final games at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium today and tomorrow when UH (26-22, 12-6 Western Athletic Conference) closes the regular season with a three-game series against Boise State (21-25, 4-13).

Today's opener is set for 6 p.m. The Wahine close with a 2 p.m. doubleheader tomorrow, when the team will wear pink uniforms as part of Under Armour's “;Power in Pink”; day to promote breast cancer awareness.

Seven seniors and fourth-year junior Malamaisaua Manuma—who will also call it a career after this season—will be honored after the finale.

“;I can't believe it's already here,”; pitcher Courtney Baughman said. “;(Their freshman year) doesn't seem that long ago. It's going to be a fun weekend, probably a little emotional.”;

This year's sizable senior class enters its final regular-season series with a four-year record of 148-78, and a WAC championship and two regional appearances to their credit.

The Wahine struggled against a tough early-season schedule this year, but have won 11 of their last 13 games to begin the weekend third in the WAC standings.

“;Our group of seniors are very close,”; said Clare Warwick, a four-year fixture at third base. “;We've been through a lot. A lot of success and a lot of hard times, and this season is sort of a combination of that.”;

Over those four years, the seniors savored quiet mornings at Lanikai Beach and two raucous afternoons in Knoxville, Tenn. back in 2007 on their way to this weekend's farewell.

The last three years the team planned an early-morning trip to watch the sunrise in Kailua, and went on a camping trip at a beach house in Nanakuli as this year's bonding exercise.

Those experiences strengthened an eclectic group representing Hawaii, California and Australia.

“;Just those moments when we get to be off the field and get to know each other ... those are the most fun,”; left fielder Audrey Andrade said.

“;We jell well together because we're all so different,”; Richie-Anne Titcomb said. “;It's like a puzzle.”;

Reflecting on their four years in the program, UH's postseason run in 2007 came up repeatedly as a highlight moment. The Wahine won the UCLA regional to advance to a Super Regional at Tennessee, where they came within a game of reaching the Women's College World Series.

“;It just seemed like we floated through that season,”; said shortstop Julie Franklin, who homered against the Lady Vols. “;Everything just meshed well, everybody knew their role and it just clicked. This year, we're still trying to find our voice and trying to make it happen again.”;

While Milca and Warwick have been starters since their freshman year—and are the only UH players to start every game this season—catcher Stacey Yamada waited three years to become a regular contributor, starting eight of the last 13 games.

“;It taught me hard work and persistence pays off because I've made it to the end,”; the Castle graduate said.

Milca's tenure at RWSS actually goes back to 2002, when she made her debut as a Kailua freshman in the state tournament. She enters the series against the Broncos with 33 career home runs, tied with Tyleen Tausaga for third in UH history.

“;In high school it was always a big deal to play on this field at the end of the year,”; Milca said.

“;It's going to mean a little more to say goodbye.”;

 

Seniors say goodbye

Members of the Hawaii softball team playing their final home series today and tomorrow:

Audrey Andrade (1B / OF, Glendale, Calif.)
Looking back—twice named All-WAC second team as a designated player. ... hit her first career grand slam at San Jose State on April 18.
Looking ahead—graduates in December with a degree in sports marketing.

Courtney Baughman (P, Valencia, Calif.)
Looking back—owns a career record of 34-23. ... recorded the final out in UH's Super Regional win at Tennessee in 2007.
Looking ahead—pursuing a degree in art and will graduate next spring.

Julie Franklin (ss, Temple City, Calif.)
Looking back—started 24 games this season. ... first career home run came in the Super Regional win over Tennessee in 2007.
Looking ahead—graduates this month with a degree in psychology ... has been accepted to the California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena.

Malamaisaua Manuma (OF, Ewa Beach)
Looking back—hit .308 as a freshman in 2006. ... started 11 games in the outfield this season.
Looking ahead—graduates in December with a degree in sociology. ... will have shoulder surgery this summer, ending her career with a year of eligibility remaining.

Tanisha Milca (of, Kailua)
Looking back—named to the All-WAC second team three times. ... ranks third in UH history with 33 career home runs.
Looking ahead—graduates in December with a degree in sociology. ... plans to join the Navy after graduation.

Richie-Anne Titcomb (2b / OF, Honolulu)
Looking back—started games at second base, shortstop, right field and center field in her career. ... homered in a regional win over Mississippi State last year.
Looking ahead—pursuing a degree in interdisciplinary studies with an emphasis in fashion and art.

Clare Warwick (3b, Canberra, Australia)
Looking back—has started 215 consecutive games at third base dating back to her freshman year. ... named first-team Easton All-America in 2007.
Looking ahead—graduates in December with a degree in kinesiology and leisure science. ... hopes to continue playing softball in Australia.

Stacey Yamada (C, Kaneohe)
Looking back—started eight of the last 13 games after playing just 17 games her first three seasons.
Looking ahead—pursuing a degree in civil and environmental engineering, graduates next spring.