Sleep-deprived UH nabs No. 3 seed
|||Hawai'i players honored|
Forget that bumper-sticker logic. For the University of Hawai'i softball team, the destination — a 6-2 victory over Nevada yesterday in Fresno, Calif. — was better than the taxing journey.
Yesterday's outcome gave the No. 3 seed to the Rainbow Wahine in the Western Athletic Conference tournament at Fresno State's Bulldog Diamond.
The winner of the double-elimination tournament receives the WAC's automatic berth in the NCAA Regionals.
The Rainbow Wahine will face No. 6 Louisiana Tech in today's opening round and, if they win, play No. 2 San Jose State in the late-afternoon game.
By defeating Nevada yesterday, the Rainbows avoided a showdown against No. 1 Fresno State in the first two rounds.
The UH-Nevada game originally was played April 29 in Reno, Nev. The Rainbows appeared to win that game, 4-2, in nine innings, but the outcome was nullified after the NCAA ruled that a Wolf Pack player should have been allowed to re-enter the lineup. The game reverted to the bottom of the fourth inning, with Nevada ahead 2-1, and was moved to Fresno as a preliminary to the WAC tournament.
Nevada was well rested, having arrived in Fresno Tuesday night. The Rainbows departed Honolulu on Tuesday night and arrived in San Francisco yesterday morning. Their departure gate was changed three times in San Francisco. They did not arrive at the Fresno hotel until 10:30 a.m. Pacific time.
"Most of our luggage was on another plane," third baseman Clare Warwick said.
The missing luggage, which included equipment and uniforms, wasn't delivered to the hotel until after 2. The Rainbows left the hotel at 2:30 for the 4 p.m. game.
"It was hard to get any rest," pitcher Justine Smethurst said. "I tried to sleep on the plane."
Warwick said: "Basically, we were all playing on a few hours of sleep. And it was hot and muggy, 90-plus degrees."
Despite the adverse conditions, the Rainbows had few troubles on the field. Warwick hit a two-run double in the Rainbows' five-run fifth.
Smethurst faced 10 batters yesterday, allowing one hit and striking out four.
Most important, Smethurst said, "It was good to play on the Fresno field again. It's going to help us get ready for the tournament."
The alleys are deeper at Bulldog Diamond (220 feet to center, 200 to each corner) than at Rainbow Wahine Stadium (each segment of the outfield wall is 200 feet from home plate).
"We might have to do a little more running," UH center fielder Kaulana Gould said. "But if our pitchers are on it, we should be fine."
Smethurst will start against Louisiana Tech. UH coach Bob Coolen said he has not decided on a second-game pitcher.