Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, February 11, 1999

W A H I N E _ S O F T B A L L

have reason to be

The UH softball team thinks
it has what it takes
to go places

By Al Chase


Three experienced pitchers and a solid group of veterans playing behind them are reasons for the 17th-ranked Hawaii Wahine softball team to have high expectations this season.

"It pretty much all starts on the mound. They put the ball in play, occasionally you get a strikeout, you work hard at defense and you're going to go places. That's where we're at this year," said Bob Coolen, Hawaii head women's softball coach.

Sounds like an over simplification of what's ahead for the Wahine. Not so when the strengths of the 1999 team are tabulated.

On the mound are senior right-hander and co-captain Kelly Gentle (22-8, 1.43 ERA in 1998), sophomore left-hander Desiree Duran (14-2, 1.44) and sophomore right-hander Janelle Gonzales (10-5, 1.72).

Behind them is an infield anchored by junior Dana Degen (.362, 6 HR, 35 RBIs a year ago) behind the plate.

"We moved senior co-captain Regina Ka'aihili (.372, 5 HR, 26 RBIs) to short (from second) to solidify the infield after losing Kehau Cofran," Coolen said. "We moved junior Mel McGie (.342, 6 HR, 38 RBIs) to second, where she played last year when Regina was hurt. Junior Alison Rapanot (.214) has been doing a great job at third base and junior Joyce Lum (.401, 2 HR, 39 RBIs) is back at first base."

The outfield will have sophomore Tyree Woodruff (.331, 26 RBIs) in right, sophomore Kristin Anderson (.262) in center and senior Kanani Bona (.264) in left if her bat responds. Otherwise, two freshmen, Kalai Castro or Nikki Drevno, will get a shot.

The numbers also indicate the Wahine will have a solid lineup at the plate, yet, in women's softball, pitching may even be more important than in baseball.

"If the players are not comfortable with the pitcher on the mound, they lose confidence all around. It perpetuates errors you don't usually make and you get frustrated at the plate because you can't get enough runs," Coolen said.

The UH staff isn't blessed with high-powered strikeout pitchers. The Wahine hurlers have to pitch smart and rely on the defense. Coolen works on defense at least half of each practice.

Gentle leads the way and has set a lofty goal for herself.

"Bob wants me to win at least 20 games, whereas I'm trying for 25. That's something I haven't done yet," said Gentle, who holds the UH career win record.

"Her strength is her presence on the mound. She takes charge of a game. She's learned how to stay in control," said Coolen.

"I've matured a lot. I know what I have to do to get the team to be successful instead getting myself to be successful," Gentle said.

She says deciding on what she wanted to do in school last year, major in communications and minor in speech, has helped. Classes in those disciplines taught her how to communicate with people better. It has already come in handy in her role as co-captain in helping nine freshmen understand the expectations of playing for UH. She also learned about herself and how she looks at things.

"If I'm really having a bad day, I don't let too much outside get to me. It will be an inner frustration," Gentle said.

One thing Coolen does not want to do is wear Gentle out this season. That will be easier to accomplish because the Western Athletic Conference has switched to three-game series (vs. four in 1998).

Gentle won't be at 100 percent when the Wahine open their season against Loyola Marymount at 6 tonight in the first round of the Paradise Classic at the Rainbow Wahine Stadium. She strained the medial collateral ligament in her left knee in an intersquad scrimmage a week ago.

"I'm still receiving treatment, but it's playable," she said.

The Wahine are picked to finish second in the preseason coaches poll behind defending national champion Fresno State. But Coolen thinks Utah, Nevada-Las Vegas and Colorado State also will be strong and says, "the rest can beat you on any given day."

The top six teams advance to the double-elimination WAC tournament hosted by Fresno State.

NOTES: Other top 25 teams UH plays on the mainland include No. 2 Arizona, No. 3 UCLA, No. 6 South Florida, No. 13 Long Beach State, No. 15 Oklahoma State and No. 25 Oregon ... Freshman right-hander Kelly Ka'aihili will probably redshirt this year ... The WAC must add two teams next year to retain an automatic NCAA regional berth for its champion.


Stadium renovation a season away

Renovations to the Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium are scheduled to begin in May after the conclusion of the Wahine's home season.

"Right now, we're looking at the middle of May. They have to finish by October in time for fall practice," said Makai Campus Coordinator Kyle Tengan.

The 1.2-million stadium opened in January of 1998 but the height of the grandstand had an unobstructed view of the much of the infield from most of the 1,200 seats. As a result, the UH athletic department's plan to charge admission and make softball the seventh revenue-producing sport was put on hold.

State officials decided to solve the problem by raising the playing field up to four feet at an estimated cost of $582,710.

By Al Chase, Star-Bulletin


1999 Wahine schedule

Paradise Classic with Oregon State, Ohio State, Baylor, Cal State Fullerton, Loyola Marymount and Hawaii.
Today Feb. 11: Oregon St. vs. Baylor, 2 p.m.; Cal St. Fullerton vs. Ohio St., 4 p.m.; Hawaii vs. Loyola Marymount, 6 p.m.
Feb. 12: Oregon St. vs. Ohio St., 8 a.m.; Oregon St. vs. Cal St. Fullerton, 10 a.m.; Loyola Marymount vs. Cal St. Fullerton, noon; Loyola Marymount vs. Baylor, 2 p.m.; Hawaii vs. Baylor, 4 p.m.; Hawaii vs. Ohio St., 6 p.m.
Feb. 13: Baylor vs. Cal St. Fullerton, 8 a.m.; Baylor vs. Ohio St., 10 a.m.; Loyola Marymount vs. Ohio St., noon; Loyola Marymount vs. Oregon St., 2 p.m.; Hawaii vs. Oregon St., 4 p.m.; Hawaii vs. Cal St. Fullerton, 6 p.m.
Feb. 14: No. 4 seed vs. No. 5 seed, 8 a.m.; No. 3 seed vs. No. 6 seed, 10 a.m.; No. 1 seed vs. winner game No. 1, noon; No. 2 seed vs. winner game 2, 2 p.m.; Championship, winner game No. 3 vs. winner game No. 4, 4 p.m.
Feb, 19-21: at UNLV Classic.
Feb. 22: at *Fresno St. 23: at *Fresno St. (2).
Feb. 26-28: at Arizona Tournament.
Mar. 5: vs. *Colorado St. 6: vs. *Colorado St. (2).
Mar. 12: vs. *Nevada-Las Vegas. 13: vs. *Nevada-Las Vegas (2).
Bank of Hawaii Invitational with Connecticut, California, Texas A&M, Wisconsin, Eastern Illinois and Hawaii.
Mar. 18: Connecticut vs. Texas A&M, 2 p.m.; California vs. Wisconsin, 4 p.m.; Hawaii vs. Eastern Illinois, 6 p.m.
Mar. 19: Wisconsin vs. Connecticut, 8 a.m.; Wisconsin vs. Texas A&M, 10 a.m.; E. Illinois vs. Texas A&M, noon; E. Illinois vs. California, 2 p.m.; Hawaii vs. California, 4 p.m.; Hawaii vs. Connecticut, 6 p.m.
Mar. 20: California vs. Texas A&M, 8 a.m.; California vs. Connecticut, 10 a.m.; E. Illinois vs. Connecticut, noon; E. Illinois vs. Wisconsin, 2 p.m.; Hawaii vs. Wisconsin, 4 p.m.; Hawaii vs. Texas A&M, 6 p.m.
Mar. 21: No. 4 seed vs. No. 5 seed, 8 a.m.; No. 3 seed vs. No. 6 seed, 10 a.m.; No. 1 seed vs. winner game No. 1, noon; No. 2 seed vs. winner game No. 2, 2 p.m.; Championship, winner game No. 3 vs. winner game No. 4, 4 p.m.
Mar. 23: at *New Mexico. 24: at *New Mexico (2).
Mar. 27: at Long Beach St. (2)
Mar. 28: at Cal St. Fullerton (2).
Apr. 9: vs. *San Diego St. 10: vs. *San Diego St. (2).
Apr. 16: at *Utah. 17: at *Utah (2).
Apr. 23: vs. *San Jose St. 24: vs. *San Jose St. (2).
Apr. 29: at Oklahoma St.
Apr. 30 at *Tulsa. May 1: at *Tulsa (2).
May 13-15: WAC Tournament at Fresno, Calif.
May 21-23: NCAA Regionals.
May 26-31: NCAA World Series at Oklahoma City.

* - Denotes Western Athletic Conference game.
Home games at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.

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