Last at-bat blast lifts UH


POSTED: Friday, June 04, 2010

OKLAHOMA CITY » Before being ushered away to fulfill her postgame duties, Traci Yoshikawa caught a quick glimpse of her mother as she left the field at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.

“;I saw my mom crying and she was like 'good job,' “; Yoshikawa said. “;So it was exciting and emotional.”;

It was just a few moments earlier that Yoshikawa executed the most significant swing in her four years in the Hawaii softball program.

With the Rainbow Wahine trailing Missouri by a run in the top of the seventh inning, Yoshikawa stepped into the box with a runner on first and lofted the next pitch over the fence in right-center field to propel Hawaii to a dramatic 3-2 win in its Women's College World Series debut.

The victory over the ninth-seeded Tigers was Hawaii's second consecutive game decided by a seventh-inning homer. The Wahine earned a trip to Oklahoma City thanks to Jenna Rodriguez's walk-off homer against Alabama on Sunday, and advanced into the WCWS winner's bracket on Yoshikawa's shot.

“;We were hearing stuff about people saying, 'they're just happy to be here.' That's not it,”; said UH left fielder Alexandra Aguirre, who hit a solo homer in the second inning. “;We're definitely excited to be here, but that's not all we're here to do. We want to make a statement. This is the first time we've been here, and we're not going to go down without a fight. I think today showed that.”;

The Rainbow Wahine (50-14) moved within one win of the single-season school record set by the 1994 team in advancing to a matchup with UCLA (46-11) today at 1 p.m. Hawaii time. The game will be televised on ESPN.






        Double elimination


        » Hawaii 3, Missouri 2
        » UCLA 16, Florida 3, 6 inn.
        » Tennessee 9, Arizona 0, 5 inn.
        » Georgia 6, Washington 3


        » Hawaii (50-14) vs. UCLA (46-11), 1 p.m. (ESPN)
        » Tennessee (48-13) vs. Georgia (49-11), 3 p.m. (ESPN)
        » Hawaii vs. TBD, 7 a.m. Sunday (ESPN)


        » Hawaii vs. Missouri-Florida winner, 1 p.m. tomorrow, loser out (ESPN)


The Bruins joined UH in the winner's bracket with a 16-3 mercy-rule win over Florida in yesterday's second game.

“;(The Wahine are) making a lot of noise, you have to respect the fact that they're putting up some big numbers,”; UCLA coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said. “;With that, our goal is to figure out how to tackle them one at a time.”;

Having the game-winning homer delivered by the ninth-place hitter in the Wahine lineup yesterday epitomized the peril pitchers face in dealing with UH's power.

Missouri sophomore Kristin Nottlemann contained the nation's top scoring offense for most of the afternoon. But two mistakes left the park, resulting in all of UH's runs.

“;If somebody would have told me before the game that Hawaii was only going to score three runs I would have said, 'Sweet, we can win that game,' “; Missouri coach Ehren Earleywine said. “;We didn't, and our hitters need to do a better job in the next outing.

“;I've never faced a lineup that had that many home runs up and down the lineup,”; he later added.

When Katie Grimes singled to lead off the seventh and was lifted for pinch runner Dara Pagaduan, UH head coach Bob Coolen elected to let Yoshikawa swing away, keeping with his philosophy throughout a record-shattering season.

“;I know a lot of people in the stands thought we were going to bunt over, but that's not our MO this year,”; Coolen said. “;We are a hitting team and we had the right lineup coming up in the last inning.”;

; Both Yoshikawa and Aguirre said they noticed Nottlemann's affinity for the outside corner earlier in the game. So when Yoshikawa got a low rise-ball away, she “;threw my hands at the ball.”;

“;It felt real good off the bat,”; Yoshikawa said. “;I was seeing her pretty well and kept my shoulder down and kept thinking, 'go opposite field.' “;

UH sophomore Stephanie Ricketts (30-8) escaped a bases-loaded jam with two strikeouts in the bottom of the first inning. But Missouri's Rhea Taylor pushed the Tigers ahead by scoring on Nicole Hudson's third-inning double and hitting a homer to left in the fifth.

Ricketts frustrated the Tigers the rest of the way and retired Missouri in order in the bottom of the seventh to cap her 29th complete game.

“;With the offense we have, I know we're going to get runs,”; Ricketts said. “;In the beginning of the game you could tell we were not playing the way we normally play, and then we started having fun and watching the ball go over the fence and playing Hawaii ball.”;

Ricketts battled through an illness during last week's super regional in Alabama and was still feeling the effects early this week. But she recovered in time to contain Missouri's offense long enough to give the Rainbow Wahine offense an opportunity.

“;Today I felt like I hadn't pitched in weeks,”; Ricketts said.

Ricketts got off to a rocky start by loading the bases on a single and two walks with one out in the first. But she battled back with two strikeouts.

“;Stephanie is sort of opposite, she's nervous when she's not on the mound; when she gets on the mound she's very calm,”; said Jeff Ricketts, Stephanie's father. “;When she gets in those situations it doesn't bother her at all.”;

Along with her parents, Ricketts had the support of sisters Samantha and Keilani in the stands.

Keilani, who pitches for Oklahoma, was named a second-team All-American on Wednesday and Stephanie's complete-game win gave the family 62 victories this season.

;[Preview]    Wahine fans cheer in Oklahoma City

The Wahine are getting some much-needed rest — and so are their fans, who have been working hard to inspire this winning team.


Watch ]





Getting in gear

Coolen called it “;the fastest home run trot I've ever seen in my life.”;

When Aguirre homered to give UH a 1-0 lead in the second inning, she circled the bases on a full sprint — a habit boosted by the adrenaline of the moment.

“;When I hit home runs everybody always complains because they don't have time to get out of the dugout,”; Aguirre said.

Aguirre came through defensively in the seventh with UH nursing the one-run lead. She hesitated initially on Jenna Marston's sinking fly ball to left, but scrambled in time to make a diving catch.

“;I made it harder on myself than I needed to,”; Aguirre said. “;It started spinning backward because I think it was a screwball. I slowed and then I went for it. I caught it, so that's what matters.”;

Fenced in

During Wednesday's press conference, Earleywine mentioned the deeper dimensions at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium as a possible advantage against UH's home run potential. Things didn't quite work out that way.

“;I was hoping it would hurt Hawaii, but it actually didn't,”; Earleywine said, “;and it cost us because I felt like (Lindsey) Muller's ball to the warning track with runners on first and second (in the sixth) might have jumped out of the park last year. That's what I get for being happy about the fences.”;






























































































































































































Majam cf 4 0 2 0 Taylor cf 4 2 2 1
Iwata ss 4 0 1 0 Marston ss 4 0 1 0
Gonzalez 3b 3 0 0 0 Hudson 3b 3 0 1 1
Buchanan pr 0 0 0 0 Fleming rf 2 0 0 0
Rodriguez dp 3 0 1 0 Lee 1b 2 0 0 0
Pagdilao pr 0 0 0 0 Ortega ph 1 0 0 0
Agruirre lf 3 1 1 1 Poet dp 3 0 0 0
Pu'u-Warren 3 0 2 0 Simmons lf 3 0 1 0
Taualii 1b 3 0 0 0 Christopher c 1 0 0 0
Grimes c 3 0 1 0 Schweisberger ph 1 0 1 0
Pagaduan pr 0 1 0 0 Krebs pr 0 0 0 0
Yoshikawa 2b 3 1 1 2 Vock 2b 2 0 0 0
          Muller ph 1 0 0 0  
Totals 29 3 9 3 Totals 27 2 6 2

HAWAII0100002 391
MISSOURI0010100 260

E—Taualii. DP—Missouri 1. LOB—Hawaii 6. Missouri 7. 2B—Pu'u-Warren. Hudson. HR—Aguirre, Yoshikawa. Taylor.

Ricketts W (30-8)762136 
Nottelmann L (24-8)793315

Umpires—John Kurnat (Plate); Mike Bartling (First); Jana Tidwell (Third).

T—2:07. A—n/a.