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Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, March 2, 2000

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

Wahine softball team
opens tough road trip

By Dave Reardon


The University of Hawaii softball team took the midnight plane to Georgia for its first road trip of the season.

Upon arrival yesterday, the Wahine were immediately greeted with some of that famous Southern hospitality.

"We got a great reception from our hosts, Trinity Temple," UH coach Bob Coolen said from Columbus, Ga. "They gave all the girls little bags with sunflower seeds and other tidbits."

Friendly gestures and some down-time were greatly appreciated by the Wahine after half-a-day on airplanes -- but then it was practice and study hall as UH prepared for tomorrow's start of the NFCA Leadoff Classic.


Bullet What: National Fastpitch College Association Leadoff Classic
Bullet Where: Columbus, Ga.
Bullet Who: No. 19 Hawaii and 23 other teams, 15 of them ranked in the Top 25
Bullet When: Tomorrow through Sunday
Bullet Format: Three pool games, then bracket play

This is a tough tournament; two-thirds of the 24-team field is or has been in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 this year.

The Wahine dropped two spots to No. 19 in the poll released yesterday, but Coolen said UH (6-2 with a four-game winning streak) remains one of the hunted.

"I told the girls in our meeting that it's time to build on (their momentum). Teams are going to be gunning for us, we're one of the ranked," he said. "This will be a great indicator of where we're at and where we need to go. We're still in the infancy of schedule."

If UH is a baby, its first pool-play opponent, Boston College, is an embryo.

The Eagles have yet to play a game this season.

Unranked BC, which has never played UH, went 27-20 last year and finished third in the Big East.

Chris Vicari (.356, 8 HR, 38 RBIs), Summer Jarrat (.373, 19 RBIs) and Mary Dietz (12-8, 2.12 ERA) are the Eagles' top returnees.

Coolen said he will start Sheri Oronoz (2-1, 2.27), who hasn't pitched in two weeks, against BC at noon.

The Wahine then play No. 9 Michigan at 7:30 p.m., with Janelle Gonzales (2-0, 2.26) pitching. Hawaii, starting Desiree Duran (2-0, 1.75), plays No. 4 LSU on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.

After the three pool games, teams are assigned to brackets for the rest of the tournament, which ends Sunday.

Coolen said he plans to use all 18 of his players, and the pitchers will all get a chance to hit.

"Look at Desi, she won her own game," Coolen said.

Actually, Duran's two-run double was just one of 12 hits as the Wahine whipped Chaminade, 8-0, last Friday.

"We're going to let Sheri hit, she's itching to get out there and hit. Janelle will see some at bats," Coolen said. "Those kids struggling at plate will be playing only defense.

"When we go on the road we push more buttons with the players, change people more often," he added. "It's a matter of seeing who can travel; some of them were sucking wind at practice because the humidity is only 20 percent. They're not getting the moist air they're used to."

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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