UH infield has all bases covered
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stephen Tsai
Selflessness can be overrated, such as when third baseman Clare Warwick apologized after cutting in front of shortstop Valana Manuma to field a grounder during a recent University of Hawai'i intrasquad softball scrimmage.
"I told her, 'Don't apologize. If you can get to the ball, take it,' " UH coach Bob Coolen said. "I was shocked when she apologized. But that's our team. They're very unselfish."
That incident also illustrated the agility and athleticism, particularly in the infield, of the Rainbow Wahine. The four starting infielders — Warwick, Manuma, second baseman Alana Power and first baseman Tyleen Tausaga — are experienced shortstops. Tausaga, a junior, was a left-handed shortstop at Kaimuki High School.
"That's unreal," Coolen said. "We have a lot of quickness and range over there (in the infield)."
Coolen said that Tausaga, as a left-hander and power hitter, is a natural fit at first.
Manuma's strong arm and range necessitated Warwick and Power to change positions. Because Warwick also doubles as a catcher, playing her at third enables Manuma to be a full-time shortstop and provides stability to the double-play combination.
Power, meanwhile, has developed into the logical successor to Noelle Izumi, who completed her NCAA eligibility last May.
The throws at second are less taxing for Power, a fourth-year junior who has fully recovered from a torn tendon in her right elbow suffered as a freshman.
Power also has emerged as a solid contact hitter. Coolen said Power's bat speed (70 mph) is the quickest on the team. Power has little difficulty pulling any pitch, even those clocking in the high 60s (the equivalent of a 100-mph fastball in baseball).
"Nobody will get a pitch past her," Coolen said. "Her pitch selection is important. She knows she can't be an anxious hitter. She can be patient because she can catch up to any pitch."
UH opens its season Thursday in the first round of the Oceanic Time Warner Cable Hawai'i Paradise Classic at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.
The Rainbow Wahine had planned to scrimmage Chaminade today, but the game was canceled because of a new NCAA rule limiting intercollegiate meetings before the second Thursday in February.
"We had a balk," Coolen said. "We're anxious to get started on Thursday."
The Rainbow Wahine's first opponent is Texas-Arlington.
Reach Stephen Tsai at firstname.lastname@example.org.