UH channels weights to plate success


POSTED: Friday, March 26, 2010

Tracing the source of Hawaii's power surge this season simply requires a little stroll from Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.

Follow Lower Campus Road down to the athletic complex, hang a right to the lower level of the Stan Sheriff Center and keep going until you reach the Alec Waterhouse Training Facility.

The work the Rainbow Wahine exerted within those walls in the fall now has them clearing the fences at record pace this spring.

“;Not much has changed other than our weight training,”; junior Melissa Gonzalez said. “;We hit a lot, we've always done that, but we're lifting a little heavier and we're all a little stronger and the balls are going farther.”;

The Wahine (22-11) open the Western Athletic Conference season today against San Jose State (22-8), leading the league and ranking fourth in the country in home runs with 1.91 per game.

Freshman Kelly Majam ranks second in the country with 15 homers, Gonzalez is second on the team with nine and 11 others have at least one. A total of 63 pitches have left the park, surpassing last year's 54-game total and putting the Wahine on track to break the school record of 84 set in 2007.






        Who: San Jose State (22-8) vs. Hawaii (22-11)

        When: Today, 6 p.m.; tomorrow, 4 p.m. (doubleheader)

        Where: Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium

        TV: KFVE, Ch. 5

        Radio: 1420-AM, tomorrow's second game only

Home runs account for more than half of UH's 204 total runs, as this year's club has built upon the state's reputation for power.

“;This is what we've become known as,”; UH head coach Bob Coolen said. “;All Hawaii teams, all the way through club, the mantra out there is Hawaii teams can hit the ball.”;

Coolen said he doesn't necessarily recruit for power, nor does he try to fit hitters into a mold. But the program has shown a tendency to produce long balls over the years.

“;We don't clone; we just talk about the elements of hitting,”; Coolen said, “;where the power will emanate from, how we get that power.”;

UH assistant coach Kaulana (Gould) Williams helped ignite the Wahine in their last two regional appearances and sees some of those traits in this year's club. The current lineup is quite a bit younger, with the batting order featuring just two full-time starters from last season.

“;I think our offense is the same. We have power from one through nine; any one of them can hit home runs just as well as we did in '07 and '08,”; Williams said. “;They just have to get their chemistry going and I think it's getting better.”;

Coolen also credits the training program, and the Wahine continue to lift regularly, shifting the emphasis from building to maintaining strength during the season.

Sustaining their nonconference output could be more of a challenge with the start of the WAC season.

“;It's going to be more difficult going into conference getting the production we've gotten so far,”; Coolen said. “;The teams know us better, we play three-game series and we have scouting reports from previous years.”;

This weekend's series between the teams with the WAC's top nonconference records will match contrasting offensive styles.

Where UH tends to circle the bases in a trot, San Jose State prefers a sprint. UH pitchers Kaia Parnaby (12-5, 1.98) and Stephanie Ricketts (9-6, 2.68) will face a Spartan lineup hitting .321 as a team, led by Kelli Fangonilo's .396. SJSU leads the WAC in stolen bases, swiping 50 in 51 attempts. Alyssa Sulay is 14-for-14 on stolen-base attempts. UH is 11-for-14 as a team.

While the series opens WAC play, it closes UH's 21-game homestand stretching over a month. The Wahine then play their next nine league games on the mainland.

“;I just remind everyone that the WAC is a new start for our season,”; senior catcher Katie Grimes said. “;You win the WAC, you go to the regionals and that's every team's goal. The WAC is getting more competitive every year I've been here. No one's going to lay down for anybody, so you have to keep your head on right.”;