Inspired Rainbow Wahine win, 14-0
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stephen Tsai
The University of Hawai'i softball team talked the talk, and then went out and walked all over Longwood (Macon, Ga.), 14-0, in the opener of the Spring Fling Tournament last night at Rainbow Wahine Stadium.
"They came out and just put it all together," said UH coach Bob Coolen, whose team rolled up 20 hits in a game abbreviated to five innings because of the tournament's eight-run mercy rule.
Before Tuesday's practice, the Rainbow Wahine called a players-only meeting that doubled as a motivational workshop.
"Everybody gave input on what we had to do and what we needed to work on," center fielder Kaulana Gould said.
They addressed their tentative at-bats, particularly at the top of the order, and inconsistent pitching. "Basically," pitcher Courtney Baughman recalled, "we said: 'Let's just do it.' "
The result was a game that answered, at least for one night, the Rainbows' recent concerns.
Baughman, who is contending for the No. 2 spot in the pitching rotation, baffled the Lancers with screwballs, change-ups and rise-curves. She relinquished two hits and a walk while striking out five of the 17 batters she faced.
"Every pitch she threw was working," UH catcher Kristi Yoshizawa said. "I knew in warm-ups she felt good. She threw good, and she wasn't nervous."
Baughman said: "I felt relaxed, I guess. And Kristi called a great game. She was very smart behind the plate. She made it easy for a pitcher to respond. And it was easy to pitch when the team can go out and get 20 hits in less than five innings. That's awesome. Pitchers love that."
The Rainbows benefitted from a revised lineup in which third baseman Clare Warwick batted second, Gould hit fifth and Gail Matsushima served as the designated hitter.
Warwick went 4 for 4 with two runs and two RBIs. Matsushima was 2 for 2, including her first collegiate hit, a double that ricocheted off the wall in left field.
It all started with Tanisha Milca's new offensive approach. Coolen had said he wanted his leadoff hitters to be aggressive rather than focus on drawing walks.
During Tuesday's batting practice, Milca said, "coach Dana Degen told me to swing at every pitch, no matter where it's at. She wanted me to get back my focus on hitting pitches instead of letting them go by. Tonight, I came in with that mentality that the first pitch I thought was a strike, I would go after it, and it worked."
Milca went 3 for 4, and she scored the Rainbows' first run on the delayed double steal.
"We wanted her to set the tone, and she did," Coolen said. "Our players weren't passive-aggressive. They were aggressive. They tried to make things happen."
That was apparent in the third inning, when Tyleen Tausaga raced non-stop from first to third on Gould's sacrifice.
"Tyleen showed her speed," Coolen said. "She has that softball savvy, going from first to third. She took the extra base, and it really ignited us."
In the bottom of the fourth, the Rainbows sent up 13 batters, producing nine hits. They opened the inning with seven consecutive hits. The big hit was Yoshizawa's two-run double to center. Yoshizawa, who had been struggling offensively while adjusting from her move from third base to calling all of the pitches as the catcher, did not try to pull the breaking pitch.
"That was a very disciplined at-bat," Coolen said. He said he no longer plans to replace her with a designated hitter.
Yoshizawa also threw out two base-runners.
"The seeds have been planted," Coolen said. "Hopefully, we can grow. They realize mediocrity isn't going to get us anywhere. If we can come out and be respected and feared at the same time, we'll do well. ... We can't go out and get 14 runs and 20 hits and then fall apart. We need to keep going."
DIVISION II SOFTBALL
Dayna Berry pitched a four-hitter and Krystal Plunkett batted 4 for 4 as Hawai'i Pacific beat Martin Methodist College (Pulaski, Tenn.), 8-0, in the first game of a non-conference doubleheader yesterday at Kailua High.
Courtney Kessell pitched three innings of scoreless relief while striking out seven as HPU (10-4) beat Martin Methodist (14-8) in the second game, 4-1.
Senior Echo Allred pitched four shutout innings as Brigham Young-Hawai'i defeated visiting Concordia (Irvine, Calif.), 3-1, in the first game of a non-conference doubleheader yesterday in Hau'ula.
Tracey Clark had three hits as Concordia (21-2) beat BYUH (6-10) in the second game, 5-2.
Reach Stephen Tsai at email@example.com.