Southern shuts down UH

With her team in a rush to get to the airport, Fresno State pitcher Jaime Southern made sure yesterday's game against Hawaii didn't go any longer than necessary.

The All-American right-hander tossed a six-hit shutout as the 18th-ranked Bulldogs edged the Rainbow Wahine 1-0 to complete a sweep of their three-game Western Athletic Conference series at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.

The loss dropped UH to 20-20 overall and 1-5 in the Western Athletic Conference as the Bulldogs (24-8, 3-0) won for the 50th time in 59 meetings between the schools.

"They just have our number," UH coach Bob Coolen lamented. "No matter what we do, no matter how hard we try, we just end up coming up short."

The game was scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m., but was delayed 20 minutes due to wet grounds. When the contest finally ended at 10:35 a.m., Fresno State hustled out of the stadium to catch a midday flight back to the mainland.

Hawaii threatened to cramp the Bulldogs' schedule even more by extending the game to extra innings. The Wahine put runners at first and second with no outs in the bottom of the seventh. But Southern capped a frustrating day for the Wahine offense by retiring the next three batters in order.

"She's an All-American -- you can't take anything away from her," said UH senior Tracie Uchima, who went 2-for-4 yesterday. "She's an All-American for a reason."

Southern (13-2) stranded nine UH runners on base and struck out seven to earn her second complete-game win of the series. In 14 innings this weekend, she gave up seven hits and just one unearned run and posted 17 strikeouts.

UH senior Melissa Coogan (10-9) spaced nine hits in a complete-game performance, but took the hard-luck loss.

Hawaii put the leadoff batter on base in five innings, but couldn't break through with a clutch hit against Southern.

"We had opportunities, we just couldn't capitalize on them," Uchima said. "We just needed that extra-base hit. With six hits we should have scored a run."

Fresno State gave Southern the cushion she needed by scratching out a run in the fourth inning. Leticia Pacheco was hit by a Coogan pitch to lead off the inning and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Rachael Donaldson and a single by Kristin Sylvester. Shauna Johnson followed with another single to left field to score Pacheco with the decisive run.

"(Coogan) goes out and gives up one run and that's all they needed," Coolen said. "You could tell they were just living on one run. They just buckled down where we couldn't push runners past third."

UH tried to rally in the seventh when Tyleen Tausaga was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and Kate Robinson's blooper dropped safely in front of Bulldogs center fielder Kristy Villasenor. Southern then struck out Dena DePompa on four pitches, got Uchima to fly out to left, and struck out Noelle Izumi swinging to end the game.

UH has a week off before continuing the WAC season with road series at Tulsa (April 11-12) and UTEP (April 15-16). The Wahine close the season with home series against Louisiana Tech (April 22-23) and San Jose State (May 6-7).

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