Rainbow Wahine roll, 10-4
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stephen Tsai
In a season opener that hinted of a happy new year, the University of Hawai'i softball team pounded 13 hits to cruise past Texas-Arlington, 10-4, in the first round of the Hawai'i Paradise Classic at Rainbow Wahine Stadium.
"Everybody came through," said first baseman Tyleen Tausaga, who slammed a towering homer to dead center in a decisive three-run fourth inning. "We all came out aggressive. That's what we needed. Nobody was scared."
The Rainbow Wahine entered with self-imposed concerns. Tausaga, a junior, is the only UH starter returning to the same position. This year's roster has 13 freshmen and a transfer. The Rainbows also were without center fielder Kaulana Gould, who was required to sit out after missing a practice.
But the butterflies had a shelf life of three batters. With two out, the Rainbows scored four runs — three earned — in the first against right-hander Nicki Wilson. Gould's replacement, freshman Tanisha Milca, drove in two of the runs with a double to left-center. She later scored on Alana Power's single.
UH's Justine Smethurst, a freshman right-hander from Australia, struggled with her control, yielding four runs in the fourth. She walked four, and had three-ball counts to 10 of the first 15 batters she faced.
UH coach Bob Coolen said Smethurst's problems were attributed to "overthrowing and aiming the ball. She tensed up and lost her pop. When a pitcher starts doing that, she's not going to find her zone."
But Smethurst ended up with the victory, thanks to fellow Australian Clare Warwick's two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth, breaking a 4-all tie.
"We're good at staying up, keeping everybody together, no matter if we're up 10 or down four," Tausaga said. "We're going to be the same. We're going to come and get you."
After Smethurst relinquished a leadoff double in the fifth, Kate Robinson was summoned. Robinson allowed one hit and two baserunners in the final three innings to earn the save.
"I was a little nervous, but I knew we were going to score more runs, so I wasn't really worried," Robinson said. "It was the first-game jitters. I'm glad we got them out."
Reach Stephen Tsai at email@example.com.