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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Weather affecting UH goals

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Courtney Baughman

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HAWAIIAN AIRLINES SPRING FLING TOURNAMENT

WHEN: Today through Sunday

TODAY: Detroit Mercy vs. UC Santa Barbara, 10 a.m.; Penn State vs. UC Santa Barbara, noon; Penn State vs. Detroit Mercy, 2 p.m.; UNLV vs. Longwood, 4 p.m.; Longwood vs. Hawai'i, 6 p.m.

WHERE: Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium

ADMISSION: No charge

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The mother of all spoilers Mother Nature is helping to force the University of Hawai'i softball team to redesign its plans.

UH coach Bob Coolen said his team needed to win at least 40 games, with no more than 20 losses, to receive postseason consideration. But last week's island-wide storms limited the Rainbow Wahine to playing three games (out of a potential eight) in a tournament. Also, in the season-opening tournament, UH lost a chance to play an additional two games.

Entering today's opener of the Spring Fling Tournament, Coolen predicted, "we're not going to get to 40."

The NCAA allows each team 56 "contests" a figure with different variables. During round-robin tournaments, a doubleheader played on one day counts as one contest. While a team could play up to four games in the championship bracket, it would count only as one contest. In league play, however, a doubleheader counts as two contests. UH had hoped to play more than 60 games. Now, it projects a schedule in the low 50s.

"At 9-8, we're approaching our 20 losses much quicker than our 20 wins," Coolen said. "We need to somehow, as a team, understand what the season is all about. The preseason is about winning a lot of games for regional (playoff) consideration down the road. We just haven't done that."

Coolen said UH will focus on the Western Athletic Conference season and league tournament. The WAC tournament winner earns an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.

For now, Coolen is seeking more aggressive at-bats from the leadoff spot. Outfielders Kaulana Gould and Tenisha Milca and infielders Valana Manuma and Clare Warwick have taken turns hitting first. Warwick is inconsistent. Gould (.204) has hit the ball hard but without success. Milca, a freshman, is batting .323, but "she needs to be more aggressive early in the count," Coolen said. "If she waits to go deep into the count, she has to hit a pitcher's pitch. I think she thinks she has to get on by virtue of a walk. She's not really the aggressive leadoff hitter that you need up there."

Coolen also is searching for a starting pitcher to complement ace Justine Smethurst (5-3, 3.02 earned-run average). Jessica Morton (2-2, 3.90) has followed each good outing with a short one. "Having a .500 pitcher is not going to help us," Coolen said.

Freshman Courtney Baughman, who had lost her spot in the rotation, will start against Longwood tonight. "We're searching for someone who can be consistent in that role," Coolen said.

Baughman said: "I'm excited to play."

Reach Stephen Tsai at stsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.