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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 1, 2007

UH considers bidding for softball regional

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer


WAC TOURNAMENT: WAC champion Hawai‘i (45-9, 16-2) will be the No. 1 seed for the conference tournament, scheduled for May 10 to 12 in Fresno, Calif.

NCAA TOURNAMENT: 64-team field to be announced May 13.

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To the 2007 Western Athletic Conference softball champions belong a commemorative sign, Hawaiian heirloom bracelets and, perhaps, a chance to serve as NCAA Regional hosts.

UH officials are exploring the possibility of putting in a bid for one of the 16 Regional sites. After clinching the regular-season title and earning the No. 1 seed in next week's WAC tournament, the Rainbow Wahine should receive a berth in the NCAA postseason.

UH officials yesterday tried to sort through their postseason plans. Next week's WAC tournament runs through Saturday, May 12, in Fresno, Calif.

The NCAA will announce its 64-team field the next day. The Rainbows are finalizing arrangements to stay in Fresno through Monday morning, May 13. They only will return to Hawai'i if a Regional is held at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.

"If we're not hosting, we'll stay on the Mainland," UH coach Bob Coolen said.

Coolen said the Rainbows must check out of their UH dormitory rooms next Tuesday, when they leave for the WAC tournament. Many of the Mainland players have started to move some of their belongings into storage.

The Rainbows also are working on plans to celebrate their first WAC regular-season title since 2003. They plan to paint a sign on a wall in right field honoring this year's team.

"We want that to go up by next Monday, if that's possible," Coolen said. "That will be a No. 1 priority."

In addition, the players will be given the option of receiving a championship ring or Hawaiian heirloom bracelet.

The bracelet is "not like getting the usual ring," Coolen said. "It's unique. It's something you will cherish."

In the meantime, the Rainbows are enjoying their first week as 2007 champions.

"It sunk in," said pitcher/first baseman Kate Robinson, who yesterday was named the WAC's Hitter of the Week. "Probably because my family says it over and over."

Justine Smethurst was named the WAC's Pitcher of the Week after Saturday's no-hitter, the fourth of her career. She is a sophomore.

Because the Rainbows won't play until the WAC tournament, Coolen is considering having an intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday.

"Most of us are ready to play again," Robinson said. "Everytime we have a break, we're a little slow to get back into the game."

Reach Stephen Tsai at stsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.