Star-Bulletin Sports

Sunday, January 27, 2002


Wahine loaded heading
into season

By Dave Reardon

There are two ways to take it when your second-string beats the starters in a practice game.

Either you're in a lot of trouble and you need to make some wholesale changes, or you're good, because you've got lots of people who can play well.


Hawaii softball coach Bob Coolen chose the second point of view after the backups (for now, anyway) got the best of the starters 4-3 in an intra-team scrimmage Friday night.

"I think it means we're deep. Deep everywhere," said Coolen, as he prepares the Wahine for their Feb. 5 season-opening doubleheader at Long Beach State.

With veteran player Michelle Mumaw battling for more playing time, Coolen might be right.

Mumaw, who will probably platoon with Jennifer Tandarich at catcher, belted two doubles playing for the second team. She did it against freshman Melissa Coogan and junior Sheri Oronoz, the two pitchers Coolen said he will likely rely on most when the season begins.

"Coogan's our hardest thrower but has to learn to use her change-up," he said. "Sheri has the experience."

Coming up

Feb. 5
At Long Beach State

Feb. 6
At UC Riverside

He hopes freshmen Paula Blanning from Australia and Shannon Tabion from Baldwin High School on Maui will develop during the year.

"Blanning has a little edge now, but Shannon's getting better every day," he said.

The main reason the Western Athletic Conference coaches voted for the Wahine to win the league title is UH's offense.

If he had a game today, Coolen said he would go with this lineup:

Natalie Gonzales, second base; Tracie Uchima, right field; April Crowell, designated player or third base; Stacey Porter, first base; Kate Judd, shortstop; Trisha Ramos, designated player or third base; Stacie Hirano, left field; Oronoz, center field or pitcher; Tandarich or Mumaw, catcher.

Gonzales, Porter, Judd and Hirano were all voted to the WAC's preseason first-team. Judd got the preliminary nod for player of the year.

"The players look at it as respect for what they did last year (when UH went 46-18 and 16-4 in the WAC, for second place, narrowly behind Fresno State)," Coolen said. "It's a different feeling. We've finally gained some respect, but also heightened expectations."

Coolen said he didn't know if the coaches who voted accounted for Hawaii losing 22-win pitcher Felicity Witt to the Australian national team.

"I think they knew we had some other arms coming up anyway," he said. "They probably looked at our offense, how much we had coming back. It's the overall team."

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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