Rainbow Wahine playing for WAC title and more


POSTED: Friday, April 30, 2010

A regular-season title offers no guarantees when the NCAA selection committee meets.

But it sure doesn't hurt.

One more win this weekend would give Hawaii the Western Athletic Conference's regular-season softball championship and push the Rainbow Wahine to the 40-win mark, considered a benchmark when the NCAA regionals are assembled.

“;Those two things would really help us,”; UH head coach Bob Coolen said. “;Going into the (WAC) tournament, that's where the automatic (bid) is, but we would have set ourselves up for some postseason consideration.”;

Those stakes figure to augment the inherent intensity whenever Hawaii (39-11, 17-0 WAC) and Fresno State (34-14, 12-3) get together.

The series between the WAC's top two teams opens today with a single game at 6 p.m. UH concludes the regular season with a doubleheader tomorrow starting at 4 p.m.






        » Fresno State (33-14, 12-3) vs. No. 20 Hawaii (39-11, 17-0)


» Today, 6 p.m.; Tomorrow (doubleheader), 4 p.m.


» Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium


» TV: none


» Radio: none




“;It's always going to be tense and intense,”; right fielder Kanani Pu'u-Warren, one of five UH seniors playing their final series at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium, said of the rivalry with Fresno State.

Picked third in the WAC's preseason poll, Hawaii ripped through six WAC series in a 17-game run that that nudged the Wahine north in both national polls (20th in the Softball poll and 23rd in the NFCA/USA Today rankings). UH's RPI ranks 16th in the country, according to

For Hawaii to claim its third regular-season crown, the Wahine will have to wrest it from a Fresno State program which has 10 titles and leads the all-time series with UH 59-15.

Over the last three years, UH is 5-6 against Fresno State, and six of the last seven regular-season games have been decided by one run. The exception was UH's 7-4, 16-inning win last year when the Wahine won a series in Fresno, Calif., for the first time in school history.

“;It's fun to play a big game against a traditional rival,”; said UH pitcher Stephanie Ricketts, who threw 12 of those 16 innings. “;Everyone's emotions are in it and everyone brings their A-game, those are the best games to play.”;

Ricketts (20-6, 2.20) tossed her first career perfect game in her last appearance, UH's 20-0 win at Nevada on Saturday. Fighting through a draining illness, she needed only 53 pitches in retiring all 15 Wolf Pack hitters to earn WAC pitcher of the week honors. Freshman Kaia Parnaby (18-5, 2.60) picked up two complete-game wins in the sweep.


Fresno State is hitting .300 as a team and features the WAC's deepest pitching staff. Sophomores Michelle Moses (8-0, 1.11) and Mackenzie Oakes (11-6, 1.96) and junior Morgan Melloh (14-7, 2.71)—the preseason WAC pitcher of the year—have combined to post a league-best 2.06 earned-run average.

Moses is also among Fresno State's top producers at the plate, hitting .343 with a team-high 16 home runs and 49 RBIs. Haley Gilleland leads the Bulldogs in hitting at .389 and is the school's career leader with 55 stolen bases.

Hawaii counters with the WAC's top offense, entering the series hitting .318 with 123 home runs, 11 short of the NCAA single-season record. Freshmen Kelly Majam (.403, 25 homers) and Jessica Iwata (.404) set the tone at the top of the order.

While pitching and offense have carried the Wahine to a school-record winning streak and the top of the WAC standings, focus could be their most valuable attribute this weekend.

“;(Senior Amanda Taualii) always tells us, 'Worry about yourself, worry about the jersey you wear and everything will work out fine,' “; Pu'u-Warren said.