Rainbows will battle jet lag and Wolf Pack
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stephen Tsai
What happens in Nevada doesn't always stay there.
The University of Hawai'i softball team is learning that the hard way. In a preliminary to the Western Athletic Conference tournament in Fresno, Calif., UH and Nevada today will complete a protested game that was originally played in Reno on April 29.
The game, to be finished on the Fresno State campus, will pick up in the bottom of the fourth inning with Nevada ahead, 2-1.
UH appeared to have won the game on Kate Robinson's ninth-inning homer. But the game was played under protest after umpires decided the Wolf Pack violated the re-entry rule. The NCAA ruled in favor of Nevada, and reverted the game back to the middle of the fourth inning, when the Wolf Pack player was told she could not re-enter the lineup.
The outcome will determine the seeding for the WAC tournament, which begins tomorrow. The winner earns the No. 3 seed, and faces No. 6 Louisiana Tech tomorrow. Most important, the No. 3 seed avoids top-ranked Fresno State in the second round of the double-elimination tournament. The tournament winner earns the WAC's automatic berth in the NCAA Regionals.
The Rainbows enter with a disadvantage in rest. The Wolf Pack arrived in Fresno last night. The Rainbows, who departed from Honolulu last night, are not scheduled to arrive in Fresno until 8:30 this morning Pacific time. They must report to Bulldog Diamond by 2:30 p.m. for the game's 4 p.m. start.
"It'll be check in to the hotel, sleep, get them some sandwiches and chips, and try to be awake for the game," UH coach Bob Coolen said. "I know we're going to be like zombies. I talked to all of the other coaches, and asked them, 'Have you ever flown in on a red-eye and played the same day?' I have yet to come up with a coach who has."
This year, the UH men's volleyball team arrived at the hotel at 1 a.m. on the day of a road match. The Warriors lost to UC Santa Barbara.
In 1996, the UH football team arrived in Laramie, Wyo., in the early morning of game day. UH lost to Wyoming, 66-0.
"It's not a good scenario," Coolen said.
Justine Smethurst, who pitched nine innings in the original game, will be on the mound for UH. Because she is scheduled to pitch in tomorrow's opening-round game, Coolen said, "we might make an immediate move and take her out. We'll see how it goes."
Either way, Smethurst said: "I'm ready. I'm just disappointed we have to play again, considering we went nine innings. And we haven't come back in many games."
Of the 13 games in which the Rainbows trailed after four innings this year, they have rallied to win only once.
First baseman Tyleen Tausaga, the defacto team captain, said she will call a players-only meeting this morning. "I want to remind them it's Nevada first," she said. "I don't want them thinking about the other teams."
Reach Stephen Tsai at email@example.com.